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AR Rahman

A R Rahman (born on January 6, 1966 as A. S. Dileep Kumar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) is an award-winning composer, record producer and musician. In a career spanning over a decade, Rahman, by 2003, had sold more than one hundred million records of his film scores and soundtracks world-wide, and sold over 200 million cassettes making him one of the world's top 25 all-time top selling recording artists.


Early life and influences: A. R. Rahman was born to R. K. Shekhar, a composer, arranger and conductor for Malayalam-language films. His father died when Rahman was nine years old, and his family rented out musical equipment as a source of income.

During these early years, Rahman served as a keyboardist and an arranger in bands such as "Roots" with friends, embracing numerous music genres. He played the keyboard and piano, in addition to, among others, the synthesizer, the harmonium and the guitar. His curiosity in the synthesizer in particular increased because, he says, it was the “ideal combination of music and technology.”[3] He began early training in music under Master Dhanraj. At the age of 11, he joined, as a keyboardist, the troupe of composer Ilaiyaraaja,[3] one of many composers to whom musical instruments belonging to Rahman's father were rented to. Rahman later played in the orchestra of M. S. Viswanathan and Ramesh Naidu, accompanied Zakir Hussain and Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan on world tours and obtained a scholarship to Trinity College of Music, where he graduated with a degree in Western classical music.

Summary of career

Film scoring and soundtracks: In 1991, Rahman began his own studio, attached to his house, called the Panchathan Record Inn. He initially composed music for advertisements, the title music of Indian Television channels and music in documentaries, among other projects. In 1992, he was approached by film director Mani Ratnam to compose the score and soundtrack for Ratnam's Tamil language film Roja. The debut led Rahman to receive the Rajat Kamal award for Best Music Director at the National Film Awards, the first time ever by a first-time film composer. Rahman has since then gone on to win the award three more times (for his scores for Minsaara Kanavu (Electric Dreams, Tamil) in 1997, Lagaan (Tax, Hindi) in 2002 and Kannathil Muthamittal (A Kiss on the Cheek, Tamil) in 2003), the most ever by any composer.

Roja's score met with high sales and acclaim, in its original and dubbed versions, bringing about an effective transformation in film music at the time, and Rahman followed this with scores for films including, among others, Bombay, Kadhalan, Indira, Minsaara Kanavu, Muthu and Love Birds, which gained him notice. His soundtracks gained him recognition in the Tamil film industry and across the country for his versatality in classical, folk, jazz, reggae, soft rock and other styles in his pieces. Rangeela, directed by Ram Gopal Varma, marked Rahman's debut in Hindi films. Many popular scores for films including Dil Se and Taal followed. The sales of these albums prompted several film producers to take film music more seriously.

Rahman's work is also unique in the fact that his collaborations with some film directors have always resulted in successful soundtracks. In particular, he has worked with Mani Ratnam on ten films until 2006, all of which have been musical hits. Also notable is his collaboration with the director S. Shankar in the films Gentleman, Kadhalan, Bharathiyudu,Indian, Jeans, Mudhalvan, Nayak, Boys and Sivaji. His first movie album Roja was listed in TIME's "Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of All Time". Rahman also composed the score for the Chinese film Warriors of Heaven and Earth in 2003.

Music style

Rahman's interest in the works of Classical and Romantic period composers, Carnatic composers, early film composers and predecessors K. V. Mahadevan and Vishwanathan-Ramamoorthy of the film industry of Tamil Nadu and others continued through his late teens. He further explored and trained in Carnatic music, Western classical, Hindustani music and the Qawwali style of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, in addition to numerous other styles. His interest and outlook in music is said to stem from his love of experimentation. As a result, his scores have alternated from songs and themes composed covering a variety of genres, with unconventionally-grouped instruments, and different vocal styles being used and combined together in some of his film soundtracks, to more traditional orchestral themes with leitmotif techniques composed in others. Rahman's works often feature a mix of minimalist songs and evocative, thematic pieces, building on his differing chord progressions and rhythms. He has written scores and songs with new and varied melodic and percussive sounds from instruments of different music systems.
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