I get embarrassed talking about myself: AR Rahman

Published May 30, 2015, 3:34 am IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 1:18 am IST
Music nomad who straddles three continents, talks about this new phase
A.R. Rahman hopes to spend much more time in Chennai in 2015 with family and friends
 A.R. Rahman hopes to spend much more time in Chennai in 2015 with family and friends

How has life been treating you this year?
Good, good! I am now spending more time at home in Chennai. We launched our musical band, which will play live all over the world. This is part of our initiative to find interesting jobs for the very talented students from my music school, and for young musicians who are not part of my school.

How participative are you in the activities of the music band?
The songs, vision and execution on stage are all mine. But I won’t be on stage with them. They will start their journey with cover versions of Michael Jackson and my songs but then they’d be giving their own interpretations to it.  
You are constantly finding ways to share your talent, experience and wealth with underprivileged people, tell us a little about it.

When you have accumulated knowledge and some influence you want to share it. At 20, I was another person. At 30, I had evolved more. At 40-plus I’ve a lot more to share.

How did you react to the documentary on you, Mozart From Madras?
I was terrified to watch it. I am embarrassed to talk about myself. But when I saw people like Danny Boyle and Mani Ratnam talk about what it was like to work with me, I was hooked. They actually made me seem likeable (laughs). It could have gone the other way. Cinema can be very manipulative.

You’ve done monumental work with Ashutosh Gowariker in the past. How is it working with him again in Mohenjo Daro?
He inspires me.The first thing he told me is that this time he would be shooting a film, that would not be more than two hours long! There are just four-five songs in the film.

What about your international projects?
There is a film, Pele, on the life of the footballer. Then there is Majid Majidi’s Muhammad.

Has the fan profile changed over the years?
One has to constantly re-invent sound and the style. Change is specially a must on stage. You have to innovate on stage. Otherwise you just become a visual avatar of the radio.  Individually I feel satisfied. But if I can excel along with my team it’s a different high.

Your music school was your dream. Now that it’s a reality how much time are you able to give to it?
My sister is running the school. I am not part of it on a day-to-day basis. But otherwise I am constantly in touch with them.

Has your output increased over the years?
I think I am more confident about deadlines. I realise some things have to be done within a time frame. But I prefer to work without schedules and limitations.
Where do you stand in your own creative vision?
I’ve yet a long way to go. I am constantly learning and evolving. I am currently most excited about my music orchestra for the underprivileged. It’s called The Sunshine Orchestra. You’ll be surprised at how naturally talented they are. These poor children had never heard of Beethoven and Bach. Today they play the music of these greats.

At 48, do you feel satisfied with what you have achieved?
I feel I’ve got much more than I deserve. I am very grateful to God. When you look at other lives, some very talented but not so successful, you feel grateful for what God has given you. I have family, friends and fans. What more could I hope for?