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I don’t know how to define success: AR Rahman- Cinema express

I don’t know how to define success: AR Rahman

With his concert in Chennai scheduled for Friday -- organised to commemorate his completing 25 years in the industry -- AR Rahman expresses gratitude for everything that has been given to him

Published: 10th January 2018

It’s impossible not to be nervous when the person sitting in front of you is AR Rahman. The man himself is a tad reticent, but as is all too well-known of the composer, when he gets on stage, he transforms into a explosive performer. “Music makes everything possible. It opened me up as a person,” he says. To mark his completing 25 years in the industry, AR Rahman will be performing a concert this Friday called Netru Indru Naalai. Excerpts from an interview with the composer:

You haven’t often partnered with a brand to promote your show.
All things change. And it’s good. Change is the only constant. (Laughs) It feels great to be back -- where it all started. We’ll hopefully recreate beautiful moments and timeless songs, which have had a magical effect on people. We got overwhelming response for the concert from US, Canada, Andhra Pradesh and North India. Now, it’s Chennai’s turn. The city gives a beautiful vibe that inspires me.

What’s on your mind before you get on to a stage?
I feel blessed for everything that I have today, and I keep telling my family that there should be no complaints whatsoever. God has been extremely kind to me. I simply live in the moment. I just remember all that.

‘What I like about concerts is that it symbolises spontaneity -- a sense of living in the present. I constantly look at the reactions of the audience. That’s what keeps me going.’

How has AR Rahman, the performer, changed over the years?
I think my initial concerts were a little boring. The music was there, of course, but I realised what was missing after observing concerts abroad. Now, I think I’ve become better. I move around the stage, and interact with the audience. When I am in the studio, I am just a composer. But when I am on the stage, I am a performer, and I have to be on par with youngsters.

I’ve learned about lenses, camera angles and so on. That’s one of the reasons why I have stepped into filmmaking. I wasn’t image-conscious before, but now, I know I can’t represent India with unbuttoned shirts. (Smiles) I have realised I need to carry myself with a certain kind of class. My wife has started dressing me up, of late. I guess, she got inspired by SuperHeavy band! It’s a refinement, anyway.

What does this year have in store for you?
I’m doing the Vijay-AR Murugadoss film and there’s also Mani Ratnam’s new project in the pipeline. The bond with Mani Ratnam has remained intact from when I made my debut in Roja. His energy is infectious.

As for Shankar, it’s so easy to work with him. I am almost done with 2.0. And then, there are also my projects, 99 Songs and Le Musk. I need to promote them too. But no, it’s not about me and what I want. I am trying to connect with people, and make them understand that my music is for everybody.

‘I may rope in Vijay for a song in Thalapathy 62. But I assure you that the music will be different from Mersal.’

Twenty five years in the industry. Does it make you feel old?
(Laughs) Don’t you think I am? The industry is going through challenges, and how people consume music has become different. Every day when I wake up, I think, “Oh, I am alive; I need to do something nice.” That’s the only way to live life.

How have you remained on top of your game?
Oh, am I? I don’t know. I’ve been trying to do new things for 30-40 years now. I’ve always got mixed responses from the audience.

I think it’s great that you continue to be level-headed, despite all the success.
I am quite touched to hear that. I get confused sometimes. I don’t know how to define success. Should I make fans happy, or is it about making soulful music? Or perhaps I should worry about YouTube views? I don’t know. I just keep doing what feels right.

What do you suppose is lacking in the film industry?
To answer that, I should have listened to the music extensively. That’s how I could gauge that. But honestly, I don’t have the time for that.


7UP's Netru Indru Naalai will be held at YMCA grounds, Nandanam, Friday, from 6 pm

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Indru Netru Naalai