AR Rahman: A story at the forefront of Indian music.

The word “Dilip Kumar” is synonymous with Indian cinema. We associate it with the First Khan of Bollywood, but how many of us think of Mozart of Madras.


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Popularly known as AR Rahman, AS Dileep Kumar was born in Chennai on January 6, 1967. His father RK Shekhar was a music composer who conducted for many Tamil and Malayalam films. He was a workaholic who travelled often. His mother Kasthuri was a stay-at-home mum who cared for the family dearly and Rahman was very close to her than his father. Mysterious illness consumed Shekhar and his untimely demise hit the family very hard. Rahman was forced to work from a very young age to provide for his mother and three sisters.

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When he was just 11, he joined the troupe of famous South Indian composer Ilaiyaraaja. Later though scholarship he graduated from the Trinity College at Oxford University, with a degree in Western classical music. His lucky break came when he was asked by now famous director Mani Ratnam to compose the music for his movie Roja in 1991. The director spotted him at an award show where Rahman was receiving an award for one of his jingles. Roja’s music went on to create waves and there was no looking back ever since. The songs are a craze even today and it was listed in TIME magazine’s ’10 Best Soundtracks of All Time’ in 2005.

He made his debut in Bollywood with the film Rangeela, directed by Ram Gopal Varma. He has worked with all the leading directors both in Bollywood as well as in the South Indian film industry.

Over the years he had the distinction of working with some of the best personalities in the Indian entertainment industry like Javed Akhtar, Mehboob, Gulzar, Vairamuthu, Anand Bakshi, Vaali and P.K.Mishra. To the rest of the world, he’s identified as a revolutionary musician whose has captured the hearts and love of people from India and beyond. In recognition of his contributions in bringing Indian music to the international stage, he was bestowed the Padma Bhushan in 2010 and Padma Shri in 2000, by the Government of India. To date he has won 135 awards in total (2 Grammy awards, 2 Academy awards, 1 BAFTA awards, 1 Golden Globe awards, 6 National Film awards,32 Film fare awards).

But even after all this he feels like normal everyday common man. In his words “I will always remain a common man. No amount of stardom will change that. Money comes, money goes. Fame comes, fame goes. I believe every human being is a celebrity in their own right.”

He is undoubtedly & undisputedly the Mozart of India, a music genius who bought Indian music into international arena. His songs and music were used in various internationally acclaimed films and has been a role model for many upcoming musicians.

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