Had suicidal thoughts till I was 25: AR Rahman
The composer dwells on hard times in his life in Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of AR Rahman, written by author Krishna Trilok,
Celebrated composer AR Rahman says there was a phase in his life when he felt like a failure and thought about ending his life almost every day.
The composer dwells on hard times in his life in Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of AR Rahman. Written by author Krishna Trilok, the biography, in association with Landmark and Penguin Random House, was launched in Mumbai on Saturday.
Rahman was nine when his father, RK Shekhar, who was a film composer, passed away and the family had to rent out his musical equipment to get by. ARR, thus, took to music at a very young age. "I finished everything between the age of 12 to 22. It was boring for me to do all the normal stuff. I didn't want to do it," he says.
The Oscar-winning composer says the initial lows of his career eventually helped him emerge braver. "Up until 25, I used to think about suicide. When I lost my father, there was this void. But that, in a way, made me more fearless. Death is a permanent thing for everyone. Since everything created has an expiry date, why be afraid of anything? Most of us feel we are not good enough," says Rahman.
The turnaround for the 51-year-old composer came when he built his recording studio, Panchathan Record Inn, in his backyard in Chennai. "Before that, things were dormant; so maybe it (the feeling) manifested. Due to my father's death and the way he was working, I didn't do many films. I got 35 offers and I picked two. Everyone wondered how I would survive. 'You have everything, grab it,' they told me. I was 25 then. But I couldn't do that. It's like eating everything; you become numb. So even if you eat small meals, you want to make it fulfilling," he adds.
In his 20s, before he made his debut as a composer with Mani Ratnam's Roja (1992), Rahman, along with his family, embraced Sufi Islam. He reinvented himself by letting go of not only the baggage from the past, but also his birth name - Dileep Kumar, which he says, he despised. "I never liked my original name. I don't even know why I hated it. I felt it didn't match my personality. I wanted to become another person. I felt like that would define and change my whole being."
With Roja, Rahman shot to instant fame. Creating music, he says, is an "internal" process. "You manifest who you are and let it out. So when you are ideating in your mental drawing book, you need a lot of self-analysis and you have to dive deep within you. You need to listen to yourself. It's hard to listen to your inner side. But once you do, you have to let lose and forget yourself," he adds.
It is for this reason, the composer says, that he works only during late nights or early mornings. "If I am going deep inside something, and suddenly there's a knock on the door, I'll come to reality from a very different world and I won't be able to go back to the same spot again. This is one of the reasons I prefer working very early like 5 or 6 am or at night."
Rahman says the most important thing for him is not to feel bored, and to constantly try to do something new; be it professionally or personally. "You feel jaded if you do the same thing. You need to find different things to do. For me travelling, parenting and spending time with my family though I can't do that much is beautiful. It helps a lot."