Popular for his distinct style of music around the globe, A.R. Rahman is a prominent Indian composer, singer-songwriter, music producer, and philanthropist. He rose to prominence after composing music for Mani Ratnam
`s Tamil film Roja
, for which he also won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction, Filmfare Award for Best Music Director - Tamil and the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Music Director. For his extensive body of work, Rahman has won many other awards like Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, National Film Awards, and several Filmfare Awards.
Fondly known as the Mozart of Madras, Rahman`s in his long career has redefined music in Indian cinema, taking it to an international level. Time magazine rated the soundtrack of `Roja` in the Top 10 of their all-time best movie soundtracks of the world; The Guardian, UK, listed the soundtrack of Bombay in `1000 albums to listen before you die`. In 2009, Time also included Rahman on its list of the world`s most influential people.
Apart from giving groundbreaking music, Rahman is actively involved with numerous charitable causes and is a notable philanthropist.Early Life
Born on 6th January 1967, as A. S. Dileep Kumar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, Rahman was born to R.K. Shekhar, a film score composer and Kareema, a housewife. Rahman began playing the piano at the age of four and often accompanied his father to the studio. When he was just nine years old, his father passed away and Rahman was then raised by his mother. He dropped out of school to support his family financially but his passion for music led him to a scholarship to study at Trinity College, Oxford, where he received a degree in Western Classical music. There came a turning point in his life when he rechristened himself as A.R. Rahman. This incident happened when Rahman`s sister, Fathima was very ill and a Muslim friend suggested him to pray in a particular mosque for her recovery. Thereafter, she recovered from a fatal illness in no time and this caused the entire family to convert to Islam.Personal Life
Rahman is married to Saira Banu and is blessed with three children- Khatija, Rahima, and Ameen, all of whom are aspiring to make it big in the Indian music industry.Movie Career
Rahman started his career in the industry by composing jingles for Allwyn watches and Titan watches. He got his big break when he composed the background score and soundtrack for Mani Ratnam`s Tamil film Roja, in 1992. The music of the movie turned out to be groundbreaking and Rahman bagged the Rajat Kamal Award for Best Music Director at the National Film Awards. This was a historic moment as for the first time ever in the Indian film industry, this award was being handed to a first-time music composer. The soundtrack by A. R. Rahman was included in the "10 Best Soundtracks" of all time listed by Time magazine, in 2005. Rahman has been awarded the Rajat Kamal Award for three more films, namely, Minsara Kanavu (Tamil) in 1997, (Hindi) in 2002, Kannathil Muthamittal (Tamil) in 2003, the most ever by any composer.
In 1994, came another Mani Ratnam giant hit, Bombay. By now, the combination of Mani Ratnam`s direction and A.R. Rahman`s music had become a perfect recipe for soulful cinema. The film was centred on events that occurred during and after the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya and its impact on the city of Bombay that led to the Bombay riots. The soundtrack for Bombay sold 12 million copies worldwide and the soundtrack, titled Bombay Theme, later appeared in his soundtrack for Deepa Mehta`s Fire. For Bombay, Rahman went on to win a Filmfare Best Music Director Award (Tamil).
After composing music for many hit Tamil films, Rahman ventured into Hindi cinema. His Bollywood debut came with Ram Gopal Varma`s Rangeela, in 1995. Starring Aamir Khan, Jackie Shroff, and Urmila Matondkar, the soundtracks of this runaway hit fetched Rahman two Filmfare awards, Filmfare Best Music Director Award, and Filmfare RD Burman Award for New Music Talent. Thereafter, he went on to compose music for hit films like Muthu, Kadhal Desam, Fire, and Jeans.
Next, A.R. Rahman teamed with Mani Ratnam for the former`s first venture in Bollywood, the blockbuster film Dil Se. A romantic thriller with the backdrop of the insurgency in Northeast India, the movie`s music was largely responsible for making it the success that it was. The album`s song "Chaiyya Chaiyya" was 9th in BBC World Service`s top 10 songs of all time. Some more films which earned him an appreciation for his works were Subhash Ghai`s Taal, Shaad Ali`s Saathiya, Rajkumar Santoshi`s The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra`s and Mani Ratnam`s Yuva and Guru.
In 2008, Rahman composed the background score for his first Hollywood picture, Slumdog Millionaire. Directed by Danny Boyle, the movie received unprecedented worldwide accolades and Rahman won a Golden Globe and two Academy Awards for his music in the film, becoming the first Asian to do so. The songs "Jai Ho" and "O...Saya" from the soundtrack of this film met with commercial success internationally. His next Hollywood movie Couples Retreat won him more global fame.
In 2010, Rahman composed music for the blockbuster sci-fi Tamil film Enthiran, and Danny Boyle`s 127 Hours. Rahman started off the year 2011 by directing music for Imtiaz Ali`s film Rockstar
. The soundtracks of the film were said to be its highest point with The Indian Express, a leading daily terming the film`s soundtrack `A Milestone for Bollywood`. He then gave music for movies like Raanjhanaa, Highway, Million Dollar Arm, Kochadaiiyaan, Kaaviya Thalaivan, and Tamasha. The year 2016 turned to be quite successful for Rahman; he won the IIFA Ustsavam Award for Best Music Director for his work in the Gautham Menon directed Tamil Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada. The same year, he also composed music for the American biographical film, Pele: Birth of a Legend, which was based on the life of the legendary Brazilian footballer Pele and Mohenjo-Daro, an epic romantic adventure film directed by Ashutosh Gowariker. His 2017 releases include OK Jaanu
, a romantic drama directed by Shaad Ali, Kaatru Veliyadi, a Tamil-language romantic thriller starring Karthik Sivakumar and Aditi Rao Hydari and Sachin: A Billion Dreams, a biographical drama about former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. His other releases are Bigil
(2019) and Shikara (2020), a historical drama film directed by Vidhu Vinod Chopra. In 2021, he acted as a producer, writer and musician for the musical-romantic movie 99 Songs
Aside from films, the music maestro has been involved with many other projects. Rahman is credited with composing a one of its kind rendition of India`s national song Vande Mataram on the country`s 50th Independence Day. Sung and composed by A.R. Rahman, the album remains the largest selling non-film album in India. In the summer of 2012, Rahman composed a Punjabi song for the London Olympics` opening ceremony, directed by Danny Boyle, for a part of a medley that was showcasing the Indian influence in the UK. Some of Rahman`s notable compositions were performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra in April 2010. In February 2011, Rahman also collaborated with Michael Bolton on Bolton`s album, Gems - The Duets Collection.