Music virtuoso AR Rahman may be a global icon, but he holds his origins close to his heart. What’s music to his fans’ ears is that during the holy month of Ramazan, he likes to be home no matter what part of the world he is in. And this year, too, he is in Chennai to observe the annual fast.
“Home is the best place to be during the holy fasting. It makes sense to come back home for the holy month of Ramazan for many reasons,” said Rahman. “Firstly, it’s a time when one needs to be close to one’s roots, home and family. Secondly, from a practical point of view, the days are far too long in the United States. By the time it’s sunset, it’s a good nine to 10 hours of fasting and that’s tough.”
Rahman is making the best of his month-long stay in India, his longest visit home in a year. Besides spending time with his wife, children and mother, he is also there to take a quick look at his music school in Chennai, KM Music Conservatory.
Speaking of his school’s growth, Rahman said, “It all started because I felt talented kids with a musical aptitude didn’t know where to go.” Through this initiative, he hopes to harmonise the often polarised musical preferences of the older and younger generations of musicians.
While he feels older musicians are more inclined towards traditional musical instruments and ragas, youngsters seem to be drawn towards electronic music and gadgets. “I wanted [to create] a meeting point where young students could learn about music in its various forms and interpretations,” he shared.
Today, the maverick musician is proud of the progress made by his school. “By God’s grace, the school is now a college. It’s like my extended family. Every student is important to me. I share a parent-child relationship with each one of them,” commented Rahman. Adding that, “I want them all to go out in the world as well-versed musicians. That’s the aim with which this institution was started.” Rahman’s younger sister Fathima takes care of the institution for Rahman. “She is running my dream institution beautifully,” he stated.
As for his booming career in the entertainment industry, Rahman is all set to tread the path of film production later this year. He said he always took keen interest in the filmmaking process. Without divulging much, he confirmed, “Our first production, which is in Hindi, is almost ready to roll. I’d be there to oversee it. We’ve got together a wonderful team to take care of the film production,” he said.
“I know it sounds like a big responsibility and it is. I think Vishal Bhardwaj made a successful transition from music to filmmaking before me. But I’ve no plans of directing films like Vishal. That would require my full attention, which I am in no position to give right now,” he clarified.
A curious student of cinema, Rahman sees film production as a natural progression in his life. “Music is, most of the time, a part of the visual medium, he said.” He shared that he has been taking keen interest in the videos for his songs. “Whether it was Mani Ratnam or Danny Boyle, who I worked with in the music capacity, I was always asking them questions about filmmaking. It was just a matter of time before I got seriously involved in the process of making films,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 10th, 2014.
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