Sunday August 12, 2007

15 years of A.R.Rahman’s music – 1992 to 2007 and continuing!

Posted by Karthik

I still remember August 15, 1992. I was at school, pretty annoyed at the Independence Day routine while the rest of the world was glued to the telly, watching the then-favorite, Oliyum Oliyum (OO), the default program for new Tamil film songs – the Tamil equivalent of Chitrahaar. An August 15th OO means brand new songs, films of which may have been released that day. As I finished the school’s flag hoisting ceremony and entered home, OO was long over. I checked with my Mom if there was anything striking among the songs played that morning. She vaguely recalled some interesting song starring unknown faces and a strangely alien but alluring sound.

That was ‘Chinna chinna aasai’ from Roja. My first brush with Rahman’s music on screen was ‘Kaadhal rojave’ that was aired in the subsequent week’s OO! And, I was captivated by the sheer difference in everything from vocals, the choice of instruments…the overall sound. It was excitingly fresh, unlike anything I’ve ever heard before.

Pudhiya mugam, Gentleman, May Madham…one by one Rahman delivered some mind bogglingly varied tracks that only increased my interest in his music. I finally had someone who’s music I can rush and buy on the day its released. I still remember bunking college to get my hands on the first tape of Kaadhalan. Or the days we used to annoy our lecturer by humming the prominent hmmm portion in Kaadhalan’s ‘Kaadhalikkum pennin’. Or even the first time I heard ‘Hello hello premalekha’ on Zee TV’s limited Telugu feeds on weekday evenings and instinctively guessed that it has to be Rahman. Since I could not find Gang Master in the shops in my city, I had to ask one of my pen-friends (found via Target!) in Chennai to send me the tape. She sent me a double-film tape that had Gang Master and Super Police, the two of the only four direct Telugu films by Rahman (the other two being Naani and Nee manasu naaku telusu – Naani was made in Tamil as New, while the latter was dubbed as Enakku 20 Unakku 18)!

I joined my first job in Delhi and besides the minimal internet access in my PG, got my first exposure to full fledged internet at office! And the first thing that struck me was that there was no single, online source for Rahman’s songs. Thus started arrmp3, hosted at Geocities. It was, at that point, perhaps one of the most comprehensive audio destinations for Rahman’s songs and included rare tracks, latest interviews et all…updated at amazing speed! Geocities used to frown at mp3s back then and I had to break each mp3 into 4-5 pieces, rename them as jpg/ gif and upload them. Geocities usually yanked these too and I had, at one point, as many as 80+ Geocities accounts, since each account gave me just 20MB!

My interest in his music gradually came down to more earthly levels, from the initial, literal worship as time progressed and I gave up on arrmp3 too, shortly, as a result. I moved on to creating the plagiarism-tracking website, I2FS (or ItwoFS!), back in 2000 and decided that I need to distance myself from the online image of being a devoted fan of one composer, so that people assume that I2FS is being managed without any bias. But people continue to ask me why Indian’s ‘Telephone manipol’ and its so-called original by Ace of Base (All that she wants) is not listed yet. I’ve responded to perhaps 500 odd mails on this topic and continue to refuse spending anymore time on this non-issue.

There have been so many new composers who have been influenced, either directly or indirectly by Rahman, but Rahman himself has evolved significantly over the years. He perhaps reserves his most creative work for Maniratnam and Shankar, but has gone on to deliver gems in other directors’ films too. His current music is perhaps far removed from his initial repertoire, from an instantly appealing sound to a more mature, evolved sound that people tend to listen multiple times before they can grasp the nuances and start appreciating it.

But, the music landscape is a lot more competitive now and Rahman, though a pioneer at one point, is, for me, just one more better peddler of the mod, new, filmi sound. The truth however, is that no other composer, post Rahman, has excited me to that extent. It was also probably because of the limited choice we had at that time and that I was personally witnessing a gradual decline in my all time favorite composer’s (Ilayaraja) body of work.

These days its fashionable to name Rahman as your influence. And rightly so. He was indeed the one significant point of deflection in Indian film music that captured the attention of a large number of gen-next. Rahman has withstood the onslaught of many other conventional composers both in Hindi and Tamil since 1992. At the same time, conventional filmi music has continued to flourish in Hindi with astounding success stories like Nadeem Shravan and Jatin Lalit – alongside Rahman.

To be honest, I’m not the same dreamy-eyed fan of Rahman that I was in 1992. And, my friend Gopal Srinivasan, who I met online back in the late 90s, through the Yahoo Groups on Rahman that he manages with alarming devotion, knows this all too well. He’s perhaps the only person who may have seen the entire arc in my excitement vis-à-vis Rahman’s music. I have graduated to a state where I can confidently say that his music sucks sometimes (The Taj anthem?) and I’m quite content with that dispassionate mindset.

I do continue enjoying his music and would want to listen to it as soon as its released. But, the fact that I look forward to the music of even a Salim Sulaiman or Mithoon perhaps shows that Rahman’s task is far tougher these days. However, 15 years of this man’s music, in my opinion, has changed our idea of film music like very few composers’ work, before him. Taking names here is unfair to both Rahman’s creativity and the combined talent of the other composers in question, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

My Top 5 Rahman soundtrack picks, in order of my personal preference!
1. Thiruda Thiruda (Tamil)
2. Yuva (Hindi)
3. Roja (Tamil)
4. Dil Se (Hindi)
5. Kaadhal Desam (Tamil)



  • pman

    Great post. Kind of mirrors my thoughts on Rahman. Pancham was the other composer I was really exited about. I have almost all his compositions. As noted correctly, today all the composers are giving the modern, multi layered soundtracks which Rahman pioneered. Today I am looking forward more to Om Shanti Om/Tashan than Jodha Akbar.

  • Pingback: 15 years of A.R.Rahman’s music - 1992 to 2007 and continuing!()

  • Pingback: 15 years of A.R.Rahman’s music - 1992 to 2007 and continuing! - RS Bollywood Online()

  • Arun

    Superbly written, Karthik! 🙂

  • Karthik

    Pman, Arun: Thanks!

  • Thanks for reminding us that ARR has completed 15 eventful years. ARR (like anybody) also has gone thro his peaks & a few troughs (where he gave very mediocre music). He is now in the peaks mode again looking at his tracks in the last 2 yrs…RDB,JOK(he has got the filmfare award for it),Guru & Shivaji (which was not great but considering the pressures it was good). Am waiting for Sakarakatti,ATM,Jodha Akbar & Ghajini (Hindi).

  • Karthik,
    Im bit afraid that people are going to pour out their relation with ARR more than commenting on your post- Probably ur post had made them to dig it out !

    ARR and IR both faced heavy backlash from the ‘I – wont accept – this -guy’ attitude* of the fans of their predecessors and have stood strong ! While people are going to debate on the longevity of ARR’s songs , even the staunchest of staunchest fans of IR are going to accept the view point that no composer has ensured that the 40 rupes you spend is worthy, atleast for 2-3 months .

    With ARR, the Tamizh film music has come to a full circle producing masters in Melody(MSV), orchestration (IR) and sound quality and freshness (ARR) . ANything new now has to come out within this circles but with their own patterns ! Violin is not violin in ARR’s music !!!

    Personally in my initial years i found it unacceptable that a composer has come who can dethrow IR ,commercially , but with his sweet, often jazzied melodies Rehman did break that barrier , only after 2002 im in still in search of that simple soulful melodies he once used to produce!!!

    PS : *- I came to know ..painfully that in one of the IR group meetings , they had observed 2 minute silence when ARR got award for Kannathil ..Hope this is not true !!

  • Karthik, excellent write-up. Without doubt Thiruda Thiruda has definitely excellent and innovative songs but its BGM/RR in the movie is one of the worst given by ARR.

    P.S: I thought to write about ARR’s early days from my memory but neenga munthiteenga 🙂

  • Karthik

    MumbaiRamki: Whatever I gush about Rahman, I don’t think I can dethrone IR even within myself, since I’ve grown up with IR’s music. So, from that perspective, I may be biased towards IR, much more than ARR.

    ARR did innovate incredibly well from the rut Tamil music going through and what you see today is almost a complete offshoot of his work early on. Even in Hindi film music.

    But, the point I’m trying to make on the post is about objectivity. There was a period in Rahman’s initial days when I can’t even accept the fact that one of his songs/ albums is not good. This is expected from a person who spent a lot of time managing arrmp3…but I thankfully got out of that loop and trained myself to become less devotional, and more objective.

    Have gone through this loop early on for IR considering he has been around from the mid 70s. But, if someone asks me to choose between IR and ARR, and my life depended on the honesty of the answer, I’d choose IR 🙂

  • Karthik

    Sanjeevi: No question of mundhifying at all. Its never too late to share your experiences…every bit is welcome.

  • Vishamas_Maximas

    That was a nice round-up. True, the name Rehman does not bring in the same feeling that one experienced few years back. I am still missing the “thiruda Thiruda” ” Duet” days. But he still has some surprise cards for each one of his movies and he has a lot to offer. Are our directors ready? He got himself into the “period” web for a while – 1947,Bhagat singh,Bose etc. IMHO, RDB is the only genuine musical challenge that Rehman has faced during the last 3 years.

    Do you really believe that the lot like Salim-Sulaiman or Mithoon have the class to offer competition to ARR? I don t think so. In terms of quality currently there are only three who can scale closer ( position No 5, I suppose!) to Rehman- SEL,Kreem and Vidyasagar. SEL offer simple,catchy tunes with some inspired singing but fall way short when it comes to innovation -the sort of brand name that Rehman is associated with.Kreem and VS are not absolutely original and handicapped by their own template music.Still these 3 composers are doing their bit.

    The entire “Dubai key-board” lot of Vishal-Sekar,Salim-Suliman,Mithoon,D.Imaan,G.V.Prakash are not in the race at all. Bollywood is also loaded with mill-stone composers like Anu Malik,Himesh,Pritam whose music innovations are driven by a Amr Diab or a Tarkan. I feel sorry for Bollywood – just when it eradicated Bappida it was plagued by NS and just when it got over they got this pritam-guniya. With quality singers like Sonu,Udit,Shann,Shreya,Sunidhi available, the music directors are at discovering newer abyss.

    Kollywood has a Harris “Gibberish” Jayaraj who is innovative, only when compared to your cuckoo-clock and the succesful Yuvan who has taken a vow not to experiement beyond synth sounds. The situation is bleak indeed and that leaves Rehman as the only hope.

  • pman

    Maximas, you sound like one of the Rahman fanboys. I do not think any reasoning will work with you.

  • Karthik

    Vishamas: Interesting opinion there. My addition of Salim Sulaiman and Mithoon was intentional – I had avoided other newbies like Vishal Shekhar et all, mainly because of what SS did in Dor and Mithoon in Anwar. That proves to me personally that these 2 are capable of much better things.

    Agree on SEL, VS and Kreem. But the others, I think, are largely hampered by a good Director. Rahman has been unusually lucky to work with some fantastic directors (barring a few projects) and the quality output in those proves that. But, the truth is, I look forward to almost all the mod, new composers. These guys can pull the proverbial rabbit any day and I don’t want to be the last one to notice that 🙂

    pman: Fanboy or otherwise, its his perspective and he’s right in his own way.

  • pman

    Karthik, yup it is his opinion and he is entitled to it. But making wholesale statements like ‘Do you really believe that the lot like Salim-Sulaiman or Mithoon have the class to offer competition to ARR?’ or ‘The entire “Dubai key-board” lot of Vishal-Sekar,Salim-Suliman,Mithoon’ is doing a lot of discredit to these talented composers. Imagine the Bollywood music scene without Pritam and or HR in 2006.

  • Karthik

    pman: 🙂
    I strongly believe that one comment by Vishamas isn’t going to discredit anyone – it just ends up as his pov.

    Its just that we take the online freedom of speech to newer levels of personalized opinions that the ‘discredit’ act itself has undergone a complete change. So, unless you shout outside Himesh’s house with CNN IBN and NDTV capturing every moment of your outburst, I don’t think anyone is actually getting discredited!

  • Abr7862

    Personal choice wud b to have Dil Se above Yuva as i believe this has to be arr best work in bollywood. A very close second has to b TAAL.

  • pman

    For me, Rangeela is above Taal and Dil Se. I remember keeping the music channel on all the time just for the Rangeela previews( before the official audio release).

  • siddi

    i first heard rahman in my hostel wing when a tamil friend of mine played “chik-buk-raile” on his deck. i was completely stunned by this totally new sound and followed all his tamil movie releases, which was much easier at the time since i worked in chennai after i graduated.

    my fav work of rahman is the bhagat singh soundtrack. i feel he’s let all the singers just soar in each song there.

  • PraXtreme66

    Very rightly said Karthik!!Hatz off

    I used to envy the my elders on how they would have celebrated those “Kaadhalan and Kaadhal Desam” Days.He was an Icon those days,and I used to love him…
    But these days many of his Albums dont have that yesteryear Magical touch.Rahman lack luster these Dayz.But I am sure that one of these days, he will surely come up with a Kaadhal Desham which will remind us that therez still youth in him. 😉

  • jey

    Still living in Kadhal Desham days?

    Boys which released a few years back is his best youthful peppy album by a long mile.

  • Rishi

    Just as it used to be fashionable to credit AR Rahman as an influence, it’s become more fashionable to distance away from Rahman and talk about what he used to do.

    I for one still appreciate Rahman and look forward to every album he puts out. And I’m not disappointed with his work. RDB was a brilliant soundtrack, Guru was equally as amazing.

    I also was not raised on his Tamil music, so my impression of AR Rahman was grown on Bombay and Roja, but also on Rangeela and later Taal (huge omission from the list, btw) and Dil Se. It seems a lot of his South Indian fans tend to look back to his earlier Tamil soundtracks as his best days (your top five list, only one of which is an original Hindi soundtrack – Yuva came in Tamil first – points to this). Perhaps it’s due to my upbringing, but I disagree, which is perhaps why I still like albums like Guru more than anything else that comes out these days. And I’m someone that was addicted to Life in a Metro and The Train.

    All these newer composers are great, but, as you pointed out in this post Karthik, I don’t know if they can pull it off for fifteen years the way Rahman has. I don’t know if I’ll be listening to Pritam ten years from now or even Vishal-Shekhar or SEL (I omitted Mithoon from this list because his body of work is amazing enough in its limited period that maybe he can make it).

    The only way to describe how amazing AR Rahman is is by looking at his style. No other modern composer will have a style named after him that is so recognisable and so groundbreaking.

  • arun_verma

    Well said, Rishi!

    Mithoon does have a fixed style already (perhaps not as ground breaking and not entirely his own – Pritam, Atif Aslam etc did come with numbers with *this sound* earlier than him) and hopefully he style will become richer and eventually groundbreaking.

    Himesh has a style named after him but its more ear-breaking than groundbreaking 🙂 sorry couldn’t resist that

    SEL still hold the torch after Rahman as far as my money goes. They are truly versatile — dare say even more than Rahman and remind me of dear RD Burman as far getting most apt tune for any odd song choice goes..

    Kreem and Vishal Bhardwaj are amazing but they are like modern day Jaidev and Khaiyyam – amazing compositions but low on popularity and versatility scale.

    I look forward to SEL , Mithoon, Vishal Shekhar, sandesh shandilya and Pritam in that order.

  • Karthik

    Rishi: To be entirely honest, I personally do not enjoy Taal, as much as his other Hindi soundtracks.

    And, the intent of this outpour was not to take sides – it was to internally delineate between Good and ok/bad Rahman tracks which a hardcore fan may not even consider.

    Yes, the ‘Rahman-style’ adage is perhaps his biggest contribution to music, in these 15 years. Himesh can claim that fame too with a ‘Himesh-style’, but I’m sure that’s uttered more in a feeling not necessarily associated with appreciation! The funny thing also is that Rahman’s style itself has changed every so often, so its almost like he’s constantly on the lookout to update his music.

  • Arun

    Karthik, Get your hands on the ‘Jana Gana Mana’ compilation that has been just released. Its just awesome!

  • arun_verma

    I did forget to mention salim-sulaiman, though they did disappoint in Chak de – they were unbelievable in Dor!

  • Karthik, you mention that Rehman was on significant deflection in the annals of tamil music and I agree with that wholeheartedly. He brought about a new sound and also superior technology.

    Similarly, Ilaiyaraja was also a very significant deflection in tamil music history moving away from solely classical based music to a new folk based sound. of course, Raaja could do it all, at least for that generation. Though Raaja’s greatest strength was orchestration, his music was also very fresh with strong consistent melodies. I think MSV, Raaja and Rehman can be called the 3 pillars of tamil music history, with due respect to all other composers.

    I also feel it’s unfair to compare Raaja and Rehman. It’s akin to comparing Gavaskar and Tendulkar, players from different eras. Raaja grew up a musician in a different environment and Rehman in quite another. I’ve heard commom complaints that there were no new singers and artistes introduced in the earlier eras. People fail to realise that creating music back then was a whole different ball game. Every aspect of it was a live take and you needed perfectionists who could deliver. Composers like Raaja who were working on several movies were hard pressed to deliver and obviously they opted for the same tried and tested voices who could deliver flawlessly. Nowadays, you can record the vocals seperately, add the music, play around with it, even hide flaws if necessary by overlaying. The general direction of music composing has also changed where fresh voices and collaboration of artistes is a huge thing now.

    I think the best thing to do is to not compare and enjoy each musician for what they are!! Everybody is good in their own way…:-)

    Apologies for this rambling long first post…

  • Karthik

    Shankar: Couldn’t agree with you more.

  • shankar,
    Splendid !

  • There’s one other point I would like to mention. Ilaiyaraja is my favorite composer. However I’m a music lover and enjoy good music, it doesn’t matter who composes it. If somebody displays talent, I will appreciate it.

    That said, what I’m about to say has probably been discussed a million times over but I want to add my take. Inspite of being one of India’s greatest composers, I feel we haven’t accorded Raaja the recognition he deserves. I do understand he works in a regional medium but when it comes to national honor, it should not matter if a person works in Hindi or in Assamese.

    Here’s an excerpt from what I wrote on my blog:

    “On one hand, it is heartening to see deserving people being rewarded for their efforts by recognition and appreciation. On the other, it is shocking to see certain legends being repeatedly shunned by the powers-that-be for greater honors. The other day I was casually browsing the list of people who have been honored by the Indian government. I have nothing against any of the winners and I’m sure most of them deserved some sort of recognition. It’s interesting to see that the list of people who were awarded the Padma Shri (the last in the hierarchy of civilian awards) includes Mohan Babu, Balachandra Menon, Sania Mirza, Kavita Krishnamurthi, Shahrukh Khan, Bharathiraja, Shekhar Kapur etc. One name conspicuously absent from this and any other government honors list is Ilaiyaraja. One of the greatest original composers from India continues to be eschewed from these lists and treated with utter disdain. Raaja’s achievements and contributions need no recounting to anyone even slightly knowledgeable about Indian music. This is surely a blight on India and its honor system.”

    BTW, I’m also in the music business (part-time), being a partner in a music production company in the US and have produced two music albums. You can see the details on my blog as well as on our website.

  • sam

    I can relate to you word by word..

    Rahman introduced a new sound 15 years ago, when my ears which were tired of “tabla beats” lapped it up and made its own..(note: I am not discounting IR here – tabla was the trend then)

    There were times where I refused to listen to any other music..

    But recently, I feel Rahman is into too much experimentation which in someway affects the output.

    I can even repeatedly listen to a Kadhalan, Thiruda Thiruda or Kadhalar Dhinam, but not the albums that were released a couple of years ago..(SOK, GF, Ah Aah). Though I get myself to like them (after repeated hearing).. but don’t have the urge to hear them anymore..

    May be my ears are still not tired of that old Rahman sound (BTW, which HJ is able to re-create perfectly)


  • Karthik

    Shankar, btw, if I ever wanted to write something along these lines about IR, I need to rely on others’ experiences more than mine, since I was a kid during Raja’s initial days and had limited access while at school, to the tape/ tape recorder when Raja was in his peak.

    Most of what I’ve listened to at that point was through the radio! But, this write-up on Rahman came about naturally since I’ve lived through that period (1992 onwards) when I was in the end of my schooling and had complete access to my own tapes/ players!

    But yes, I do agree that due to the highly regional nature of Raja’s repertoire and his relative lack of success in the Hindi filmdom, his success has been neglected in mainstream circles. The best write-ups I’ve read about Raja’s music is by Lakshminarayan Srirangam Ramakrishnan. In my opinion, no Raja fan should ever miss these 15 write-ups!

  • Karthik, I wasn’t commenting that you had to write something about Raaja. I was referring to the Indian government turning a blind eye to his contributions. I mean, Chiranjeevi has a Padma Vibhushan, Bharathiraja has a Padma Shri…these are all players in a regional level too. I’m sure Raaja is equally qualified to receive one of the 4 civilian awards. I guess some of these awards work on lobbying and you do need the right supporters to be considered for them. BTW, that is a shame!!

  • Karthik

    Yes Shankar, I understand your point of view. Was just trying pro-actively to think if I can ever pull something along these lines on Raja! Raja may not be interested at all on the lobbying front, so I’m not sure when/ what he can get as a national recognition. A bigger recognition could be the success of his Hindi scores (like Cheeni Kum) that could pave way for more folks from the north exploring his music.

  • Vishamas_Maximas


    Personally I feel that Bollywood has missed the IR bus.Its never going to happen. But that leaves the fans like you, who have a web-audience, with more responsibility. You open up a separate Anand-Milind -Ilayaraja thread.I think that should be a good beginning.

    I nephew of mine who grew up in north was arguing that KA’s “Neeli Neeli Ambar” inspired IR’s “Ilaya Nila”! It took lot of efforts to prove him the fact.A well educated Tamil living in north suffers from such ignorance and you expect babus to recognize IR.

    IR has constantly failed on the packaging front.Rehman despite his mind-blowing music (Ah!fanboy!) could claim his rightful place only after right packaging.

  • Vishamas_Maximas, you are absolutely right. Bollywood is never going to learn to appreciate Raaja. A few scores here and there (mostly appreciated by us) is not going to pave the way for recognition in the north. Like I said earlier, the industry has changed a lot in the recent years. As VM says, packaging matters a whole lot. You need a composer who constantly wears a trademark cap mouthing songs or someone who has a flowing mane and sings in the desert wind etc. Who is interested in a 65 year old man, in starch white dhoti/kurta with vibhuti pattai and kumkumam on his head?

    It’s completely Bollywood’s misfortune to not have learnt to appreciate this genius.

    Rahman is of the younger breed of composers who are in sync with current industry trends and sounds and can easily leverage that to be successful in both markets. I’m glad he is able to do that.

    Karthik, you are right, I’m sure Raaja is not interested in any form of lobbying for awards. He rarely even attends such ceremonies. I also think Raaja is not really yearning for national recognition. At this point, he is beyond all that. He just scores music according to his whims and fancies. It’s only true music fans like us who feel that we (as a country) haven’t done enough towards recognising his contributions. It is still a matter of great individual honor to receive a civilian award from the President of India.

  • pman

    Do not blame Bollywood. It is the people who reject movies and songs. The same people who rejected IR and Kamal Hasan accepted Rahman. The producers are not going to hire IR if his albums do not sell well. Heck, Pancham was without work for a long long time in his later days. As Karthik said, the sucess of Cheeni Kum might result in some producers opting for IR.

  • Well, even though I said that, I didn’t mean to veer the topic towards Bollywood being able to appreciate Raaja. pman, you are right. Bollywood doesn’t need to learn to appreciate Raaja though they surely missed some awesome music. That’s all. Why do we need Bollywood to recognise Raaja? Is that preventing us from recognising his greatness? It’s almost like many current industry folks saying that Indian cinema has to be recognised in Hollywood. Why? Sure, you can make global cinema but you don’t need a stamp or recognition from another industry for you to realise your worth!!

    Besides, when was the criteria established that a nation’s award could only be given to someone with national credibility? Like I said, there are so many performers in the regional arena who have been honored. That was the point I was trying to make. Sorry for the digression.

  • veejay

    Shankar, first of all a lot of national awards are pretty dubious in their credibility(if you see some of the recent recipients like Bhavatharini for singing). A lot of lobbying and politics goes on.Second, there have been great artists before Ilayaraja like MSV, Sivaji and so on, who didnt receive a single national award.Atleast Raja has 3. So atleast relatively he received more national recognition and still enjoys a lot of popularity in the South naturally, as thats where his music, which has a strong regional flavour has been appreciated the most. On the one hand you realize that Bollywood doesnt need to apprciate Raja, yet there are some people who keep complaining that Raja didnt receive enough recognition, which I dont agree. He has received titles like “Maestro” (incidentally,for a symphony album which is yet to be released). I believe he has gotten the recognition that he deserves from the people for whom he delivered consistently in his hey days. Likewise with Rahman-all the national awards, fans from either side of the Vindhyas and so on and on. If his fan base is spread nationwide it is because he managed to develop a sound/feel to his music that was pan-indian, made subtle adjustments when he composed for Hindi songs that would’nt have a strong regional flavour. Composers before him from the South had;nt managed to do that or were just contented to accept films in their native language and be regional trend-setters.

  • Karthik

    Another collection of thoughts on Rahman completing 15 years, by Suresh Kumar.

  • veejay, I agree with most of what you say. BTW, I wasn’t referring to national awards which do have dubious credibility. If Saif Ali Khan can receive one for Hum Tum, that is really the death knell of credibility for that. I was referring to our nation’s civilian awards (Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Bharat Ratna) which are given for one’s contributions in different fields. Looking at the list of people who have received such awards, I was shocked that Raaja’s contributions didn’t merit a place even in the lowest category!! That’s all. I hope I clarified my point.

  • Karthik

    Shankar: Thats an interesting point. Rahman got Padmashree in 2000, after 8 years of filmi music. This of course included Hindi films too. SPB got it, so did Kamal. I personally find it baffling that a composer of Raja’s caliber is yet to get one. Or for that matter, how many composers before Rahman have got a Padmashree?

    Now, of course, it may be too late and the only fitting award left for Raja looks like the Dada Saheb Phalke, which anyway gets into a messy tizzy every year. Many people assume that they’re most likely to get it for a particular year, while the person the media gets to know as the ‘chosen one’ says he’s yet to get any official communication on the same!

  • yaju

    Raja hasn’t got any such recognition so far? That’s really strange. He is the only Indian composer to have maintained quality over the years and knows how to be in sync with the times(e.g. Cheeni Kum).

    Raja doesn’t believe in award ceremonies, maybe that’s why they haven’t honed him yet.

  • veejay

    Quite a few great composers before Raja did’nt get it either I believe. Maybe they were’nt promoting themselves aggressively or did’nt care about it much. I read somewhere that Raja was’nt even interested in nominating himself for any awards after a while and even rejected a few. Or maybe there is some politics and lobbying needed for such awards too. After all, any govt-conferred award has to be eyed with suspicion. What makes the Padmashrees or Padma bhushans completely bias-proof or lobby-proof?

    Even with Hollywood and Oscars some great directors have been ignored in their prime- like Hitchcock, Scorcese(until recently), Kubrick and so on..And then later on, after their time, they are being hailed for their contributions. Many of the great Jazz artists were ignored too in their prime. Such is the nature of this business. But utimately those artists do get their due share of credit in the course of time. Look at youtube and old recordings of these artists still get the highest hits. So we need not be depressed thay they didnt get a piece of paper and a medal. Their legacy will speak for itself.

  • veejay

    Karthik, since you review bith Tamil and Hindi albums, I wonder as to what makes you think that Mithoon couldbe the next best thing? I listened to a few of his songs and most of them have the same feel to them, almost like Harris jaYaraj songs, and even that feel is not something all that fresh. Post-Himesh a lot of songs have these singers sounding as if their voices are coming out of a well, they are a touch nasal and a lot of word stretching/humming. Is this is what called the Sufi influence? I dont know, but it sounds a tad monotonous to me. I am not a fan of Yuvan shankar raja, but even he has shown more versatility lately than some of these new kids up North. Let them do some folk, Jazz, western classical, Hip-hop/reggae, technotrance and other genres with strong regional flavor(Rajasthani folk or Bhojpuri for example) before we brand them as the next best thing. I think sometimes you are mistaking same-genre songs(say for example, urban-pop or synth pop churned out by Harris Jyaraj)for some kind of uniqueness or composer identity. Rahman has done songs like these before.Just because these guys do it again and again, it doesnt mean that is unique to them or that is their signature style. It only shows a lack of versatility on their part. I feel we might not get another big trend after Rahman. Maybe mini-trends here and there which might fizzle out soon. I am waiting to be proven wrong in this regard and will be glad if that happens, but am skeptical as of now.
    Maybe the future of film music is less or no film music at all-maybe we will see band music and indie albums with Rahman pioneering that sort of stuff himself thru his music label(which he is starting soon) and SUN TV ooh la la programs. That would be interesting if that happens. We have aped Hollywood all along and its not a stretch to think that 10 years from now we will be having 100-120 min long films with just some background sound tracks, not completely picturized and albums separately released. RGV has already done that, maybe others will try that more. We will see if that happens. I am not holding my breath yet.

  • You can see the lists of people at or you can get it from wikipedia too. Karthik, it is baffling, isn’t it?

    veejay, you are right…his legacy will speak for him.

  • BTW, I love Ooh la la la. It’s a great opportunity for bands to show their talent. There is a lot of talent out there with no avenues to display it. Besides, getting a record company interested to give you an audition is so arduous. You also need contacts for that to happen. I believe Saregama came up with the concept and Rahman endorsed it wholeheartedly. The winner will get to record the album in Rahman’s state-of-art studio. It’s yet to be decided if the winner’s album will release on KM music (Rahman’s label) or Saregama. Rahman has to be commended for this initiative and support. Kudos to him.

    I can understand how important this is, since I’m part of a fledling music production company myself with couple of albums and a few short films to our credit.

  • rakesh

    Amazing article by rangan saar!!

  • Karthik
  • I just remembered Ilaiyaraja has completed 30 years (Annakili, his first OST was in 1977, if I am right). It would be nice if you can write about that, though listing the favourites would a very tough job !!!

  • nakhrekartekarte

    Ah my top five ARR albums are as so:

    1) Taal
    2) Dil Se
    3) Kabhi Na Kabhi
    4) Vishwavidaata
    5) Bombay

    such amazing songs, Yuva/Roja/Thakshak/Jeans also had some outstanding stuff.

Sponsored links

August 2007
« Jul   Sep »

Like Milliblog? Help spread the word!

Get reviews by email