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Sunday, December 21, 2008

I was completely devastated after Mumbai attacks: AR Rahman

AR Rahman and music are synonymous. The mellifluous magic that the maestro composes enchants the very being of listeners across the world. His soulful music is a balm in these chaotic times, when India wreathes in pain after repeated terror attacks on its integrity and bloodbath in the name of region and religion.

And now he has won the prestigious Golden Globe nomination for his compositions for the internationally acclaimed ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’

In an exclusive interview to’s Swati Chaturvedi in ‘Kahiye Janaab’, AR Rahman shares his views on these turbulent times, his music and much more.

Swati: Being an artist, you are all the more sensitive to the problems that are plaguing the nation. What is your reaction to the terror attacks in Mumbai?

Rahman: I was completely devastated. The whole week was very bad. I had to finish a film. I finished the film and left for America. I was going through stress and extreme sadness. It took me almost a week to return back to my normal self.

Swati: Are you sad or angry after the attacks?

Rahman: Both. I am angry because it is inhuman to take lives. People who are responsible for our protection (read politicians) should not only inform and alert everyone, but also provide proper security. Rich or poor, every human being is entitled to proper security against such attacks. The good thing is that people are mature, they understand the problem and are not getting involved in the blame game. People are trying to tackle the problem intellectually. It’s important for educated masses to understand and work towards preventing such terror acts in the future.

Swati: You feel that the country is developing but do you think, somewhere the politicians are holding back the nation?

Rahman: No. India is a young country. Indians are strong and are progressing. Nobody can hold us back. I firmly believe that Indians are sensible and spiritual. Of late, the understanding has become better. We know what is true and what is false.

Swati: Your good friend Aamir Khan refrained from celebrating Eid. Did you celebrate Eid?

Rahman: No Eid this time. Even my wife called up and said that she doesn’t feel like celebrating Eid. There was so much sadness everywhere.

Swati: Of late, Islam is being labeled. What is the message of Islam for you?

Rahman: I became spiritual because of Sufism and it is a universal phenomenon. Sufism has followers from all religion. Because of Sufism, I have got success. India is a blessed place; even the Prophet has said this. Religion should not be labeled. Education is the message of Islam. Everyone should get proper education so that they gain wisdom.

Swati: How much does the political situation in the country affect your music?

Rahman: It actually kind of exhausted my energy. I had to take a break. I was in shock last week, but music is my medicine. Music transports and heals you. I feel that I am blessed and I want to share the same feeling with others. That’s why I don’t take hiatus from work because it is work that rejuvenates me. It is great to give something as beautiful as music to others.

Swati: Your song ‘Rubaru’ was very well received. Please tell us about it.

Rahman: ‘Rubaru’ means light and it is relevant in these dark days. Right now, there is so much confusion, negative feelings and anger. As an artist, what you can give is love and free hugs.

Swati: You have got stupendous success as a music composer. Which is personally your favourite album?

Rahman: My latest Nokia Connections album gave me a lot of creative freedom. I did what I wanted to do. The song collection in the album is diverse. There are songs, which have never been done before. I have used a different style. The internal feedback that I have received is very good. Let’s see what people have to say about it. The compositions include a song from old Tamil literature, a love song - Jiah se Jiah, Punjabi song – Dil and other tracks.

Swati: Your music is becoming more meditative with age. Your take on this…

Rahman: I became old when I was 12 due to the circumstances in my family. May be I am getting younger now.

Swati: What is your inspiration while composing a romantic song?

Rahman: Love is definitely a phenomenon that transports you into a different world. Love is such a feeling that is beautiful. Even if a person is coming to murder you, love can change that person.

The interview ended on such a ‘lovely’ note, the maestro even crooned ‘Jiah se Jiah’ love song.

Adaptation: Shivangi Singh

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