As soon as A.R. Rahman entered a multiplex in New Delhi for an interaction about his latest venture, his attention veered to the loud music playing at the adjacent movie screen, and he laughed and said, “Baahubali!” recognising the melody in a few seconds. The entire crowd shared a good laugh with him before proceeding to business.
The 50-year-old music composer is all set to make his directorial debut with the world’s first virtual reality (VR) multi-sensory episodic feature film, Le Musk. Written, directed and scored by Rahman himself, the film stars Nora Arnezeder, Guy Burnet, Munirih Jahanpour and Mariam Zohrabyan in lead roles. Set in Rome, the film revolves around the protagonist Juliet, played by French actress Nora, who has a smell fixation. Its India prelude came after being showcased at the ‘NAB’, Las Vegas, as part of the Intel-Keynote.
The Wi-Fe signal
“In 2015, someone gifted me a VR headset and told me to try it on. But looking at its bulky and weird structure, I shrugged it away. But after three months, I thought that I should at least give it a try and see what it was all about. Rest, as they say, is history. I was hooked. I was plugged into it for six-seven hours a day. Then I began to study it for another three-four months, and in the process found out a lot of different layers to the device. I went to my wife and told her about the idea of making a movie using this amazing technology. She, being an ardent lover of perfumes, suggested that I should make a movie based on fragrance. We discussed a couple of ideas and that’s how we came up with Le Musk,” he shares.
The Oscar-winning music director shares, “I have been narrating so many stories through my music for such a long time now and I think this (project) probably is the right step forward. I feel that it’s the right time to do it too (direction) since no one is doing this type of filmmaking or this type of narrative with VR. Even with music, I had experimented with it at a stage when everything was monotonous and it worked. So, I’m hoping the same will happen with this venture. My screenwriters supported me immensely.”
‘Filmmaking is tough’
With the making of a film taking up to two years or more, Rahman feels filmmaking is a tough job — “For me, music has always come first, it’s been my first love. Even through this, I have simply reinvented the application of music vis-a-vis an unexplored platform and a narrative. I didn’t have to give it two years of my life. I was able to finish it in 13 days.”
About his choice of a foreign cast, crew, and location, he shares, “We have enjoyed so many things from Hollywood, European cinema, Korean movies as well as Chinese movies, but what have we given them? Our movies cater to our culture, our sensibilities, and I think it’s the right time to give it back to them in a way that resonates well with them. That’s why this decision.” The venture will be distributed by PVR along with YM Movies.
Actors turning singers, directors turning composers, composers turning actors — a fad?
Kailash Kher and Armaan Malik criticised the idea of actors turning playback singers. Quizzed if he has any opinion about such trends, he says, “I feel one can do anything. One just has to delve deep into it with passion and focus. Nothing is impossible. Everything in this world belongs to everyone, and not just one or two people. Just do it with all your heart and passion. And if at all someone is judging, then one should judge the other on the basis of sincerity, loyalty and honesty towards a job. Also, always aim for excellence.”
Foreign versus India
There isn’t much difference between India and abroad, feels the musician who has collaborated a lot with international artists. “Everything is changing. There are only two types of people in this world — those who have passion and those who know how to work. And I always go for people who have passion. Passion makes you do things that are unimaginable,” he says, adding, “Values are important. Coexistence enriches creativity. What comes from the heart, touches the heart. I believe in all such stuff.”
Asked if he would like to explore making something as grand as Baahubali on virtual reality, the music composer said, “My next project is even more exciting. I am going to explore different Indian dance forms through virtual reality,” he signs off.