Art & Entertainment

On A.R. Rahman's 57th Birthday, Journey Through His Melodic Masterpieces

Music composer A.R. Rahman, hailed as the 'Mozart of Madras', is celebrating his 57th birthday, even as the world toasts his musical prowess that has transcended cultural boundaries, earning him accolades and admiration worldwide.

AR Rahman
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Music composer A.R. Rahman, hailed as the 'Mozart of Madras', is celebrating his 57th birthday, even as the world toasts his musical prowess that has transcended cultural boundaries, earning him accolades and admiration worldwide.

The winner of six National Film Awards, two Oscars, two Grammys, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, and the third-highest civilian award Padma Bhushan, Rahman has been creating music that is a testament to the universality of emotions. His compositions evoke a range of feelings that resonate with audiences from diverse backgrounds.

Born in Chennai on January 6, 1967, Rahman is known for the transformative impact he has had on the film industry, playing a pivotal role in redefining the role of music in Indian cinema, emphasising its importance in storytelling.

In his three-decade-long career, he has composed and produced original scores and songs for more than 145 films in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, English, Persian and Mandarin.

As Rahman, who is also fondly called 'Isai Puyal' (musical storm), celebrates another year of abundant creativity, here is a list of some of his most memorable scores for Hindi cinema.

'Roja': Rahman's breakthrough came with this 1992 film directed by Mani Ratnam. The movie stars Aravind Swamy and Madhoo. The music of 'Roja' was a breath of fresh air, as Rahman introduced new orchestral melodies in Indian film soundtracks, which till then were based on a few traditional Indian instruments. Rahman, the debutant, won the National Film Award for Best Music Direction.

'Bombay': Rahman's work in 'Bombay' not only gained immense popularity, but also established him as a force to be reckoned with in the industry. It was Rahman's third collaboration with Mani Ratnam after 'Roja' and 'Thiruda Thiruda'.

The 1995 Tamil romantic film stars Arvind Swamy and Manisha Koirala. The soulful 'Hamma Hamma' and the emotionally charged 'Tu Hi Re' remain timeless classics.

'Rangeela': The soundtrack for 'Rangeela' is a musical masterpiece, and it was Rahman's first Hindi film with an original score and soundtrack, as his previous Hindi releases were dubbed versions of his Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films.

The 1995 romantic film directed by Ram Gopal Varma stars Aamir Khan and Urmila Matondkar. The album's standout tracks, notably 'Tanha Tanha', 'Hai Rama' and the upbeat 'Kya Kare Kya Na Kare'not only complement the film's narrative, but also stand on their own as musical gems.

'Dil Se': The soundtrack of the 1998 romantic thriller directed by Mani Ratnam, starring Shah Rukh Khan and Manisha Koirala, featured six songs composed by Rahman. Songs such as 'Chaiyya Chaiyya', based on Sufi music, and 'Jiya Jale' became instant classics, capturing the essence of the film's intense love story.

'Taal': Starring Aishwarya Rai, Akshaye Khanna and Anil Kapoor, 'Taal' marked a successful collaboration between Rahman and hitmaker Subhash Ghai. The title track and 'Ishq Bina' became instant favourites, blending traditional Indian rhythms with contemporary beats.

'Lagaan': A period drama starring Aamir Khan, and directed by Ashutosh Gowarikar, set against the backdrop of British colonial rule, 'Lagaan' featured a diverse and unforgettable soundtrack, and received high critical acclaim. The motivational anthem 'Mitwa' and the celebratory 'Chale Chalo' showcased Rahman's versatility.

'Swades': Rahman's collaboration with director Ashutosh Gowariker for the Shah Rukh Khan starrer- ‘Swades’ resulted in a soundtrack that beautifully captured the essence of the film. ‘Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera’ became an anthem for patriotism, showcasing the maestro's ability to evoke deep emotions through his music.

'Rang De Basanti': This 2006 album resonated deeply with the youth, addressing societal issues with a contemporary flair. The title track and 'Khalbali' became anthems for a generation, seamlessly integrating with the film's narrative.

The title track was also used at a flash mob at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai on November 27, 2011, in honour of those who died in the 26/11 terror attacks. Directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, the film stars Aamir Khan, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi and others.

'Guru': The 2007 film starring Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai, showcased Rahman's mastery in crafting both classical and modern compositions. Tracks such as 'Tere Bina' and 'Barso Re' not only added depth to the storyline, but also became chartbusters.

Rahman personally trained Egyptian singer Maryem Tollar to sing 'Mayya Mayya', which Rahman wrote while on the Hajj in Makkah.

'Rockstar': Teaming up with Imtiaz Ali and Ranbir Kapoor, Rahman delivered an album that explored a number of genres. 'Kun Faya Kun' and 'Sadda Haq' stand out for their emotional depth and experimental elements.

During the development of the album, Rahman reportedly had stated, "'Rockstar' is a character-driven film and as one can guess from the title, there will be lots of guitar." The soundtrack album is a musical journey that sails through ballads, Gujarati folk, Sufi music and gypsy notes from an unheard Czech tradition.

'Tamasha': Rahman's collaboration with director Imtiaz Ali continued to produce gems with 'Tamasha'. The film stars Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone. The music in the film is narrative, essayed by impresarios depicting the emotions of the characters. The songs cover genres ranging from European dance, bhangra, opera, Hindustani classical and dubstep, apart from experimental fusion. The tracks such as 'Agar Tum Saath Ho' and 'Matargashti' mellifluously complemented the film's narrative.

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