Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Golden Globe for Rahman

Music maestro AR Rahman has made history by becoming the first Indian to win the prestigious Golden Globe Award for the Best Original Music Score for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ which also bagged the Best Film and two other awards. Directed by the British filmmaker Danny Boyle, the rags-to-riches story of a Mumbai slumdweller swept awards in all the four categories it was nominated for, brightening its prospects at the Oscar Awards 2009.
The film is about India , shot in Mumbai, based on a novel ‘Q and A’ by author diplomat Vikas Swarup and has Loveleen Tadan, an Indian, as its coordinator. While Dev Patel, a British actor of Indian origin, has played the lead, the cast includes Bollywood bigwig Anil Kapoor and talented actors like Saurabh Shukla and Irfan Khan, thus vindicating Bollywood as a cinematic force to reckon with. More so since Boyle is reported to have sought inspiration for ‘Slumdog’ from several Hindi flicks. But the most heartening triumph belongs to Rahman, who has not only brought India its first Golden Globe Award but also put Bollywood music right on the world map.
Rahman’s Impact
The music prodigy, Rahman, has truly justified the ‘Time’ magazine’s comment about him: ‘Mozart of Madras’. The 43-year-old Rahman has also been named the Best Composer at the Critics’ Choice Awards in Los Angeles. Known for his music versatility—from romantic compositions to foot-tapping numbers, Rahman has innovated with different instruments and sounds to create some of India’s best-known musical hits for nearly two decades.
Rahman’s impact on Indian popular music has been tremendous. He composes across genres, from swing to pop to rousing anthems and semi-classical tunes and is known for high technology. He rose from scoring for Tamil movies to composing for big-budget stage productions abroad like ‘Bombay Dreams’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’. In his debut with ‘Roja’ in 1991, Rahman lifted Indian movie music out of the doldrums it had fallen into in the eighties. He represented a break from the past in more ways than one, trained as he is in Indian and western classical forms. Building on the work of other south Indian veterans such as Ilayaraja, Rahman brought innovation and improvisation to the music industry.
Tryst with Music
The life story of Rahman and his struggle to reach the dizzy height of fame at a young age may not be exactly of the young man in ‘Slumdog’ but it does read like a thriller. Rahman’s original name is AS Dileep Kumar. He is the only son of RK Shekhar, composer, arranger and conductor for Malayalam films.
Rahman’s tryst with music began as he got an opportunity to roam the world with various orchestras, including that of renowned Zakir Hussain. Rahman’s exposure helped him earn a scholarship and obtain a degree in Western Classical Music from Trinity College of Music, Oxford University.
It was in the year 1987 that the music wizard, Rahman began composing jingles for television commercials. He composed over 300 jingles in a span of five years, in addition to his first album of Muslim devotional songs titled ‘Deen Isai Malai’ and the English album, ‘Set Me Free’. The turning point of his career came in 1991 and it came by a sheer stroke of luck.
Rahman can be credited with liberating the Indian popular singer’s voice profile. He is truly a man of sound. A new voice, a new sound challenges him, helps him layer what he calls a, “fat chunky soundtrack”. The latest recognition for Rahman might presage an Oscar, which would be a worthy tribute to this master musician from India.

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