The Legendary A.R. Rahman: India’s Reigning Music Maestro Turn 49


From the groovy number “chaiya-chaiya” to the internationally acclaimed “Jai-ho”, A.R. Rahman and his music has won hearts across the borders. He is the king of the field of music and has produced songs that left the masses enticed.

So, today, on his birthday, let us recollect his journey and his accomplishments over the years.

On 6th January, 1967, a legend was born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Allah Rakha Rahman (A.R Rahman) was born as A.S. Dileep Kumar to Tamil film-score composer R.K Shekhar. Rahman assisted his father in the music studio, playing the keyboard. Rahman was a keyboard player and composed music for bands such as Roots (with childhood friend and percussionist Sivamani, John Anthony, Suresh Peters, JoJo and Raja) and founded the Chennai-based rock group Nemesis Avenue. He mastered the keyboard, piano, synthesizer, harmonium and guitar, and was particularly interested in the synthesizer because it was the “ideal combination of music and technology” for him.

Rahman’s career in the film industry began in 1992 when he started Panchathan Record Inn, a recording and sound-mixing studio in his backyard. No one ever predicted that years later, it would become the most-advanced recording studio in India, as well as one of Asia’s most sophisticated and high-tech studios.

He initially composed scores for documentaries and jingles for advertisements and for Indian Television channels. 1n 1989, he adopted Islam as he was majorly influenced by this religion and changed his name. In 1992, he was approached by director Mani Ratnam to compose the score and soundtrack for his Tamil film, Roja. This was his big break. The music of this movie was very successful in nation-wide. The following year, Rahman received the Rajat Kamal (Silver Lotus) award for best music director at the National Film Awards for Roja.


After this, Rahman produced music for many Tamil movies like Bombay, Kadhalan and so on. He was later approached by Bollywood directors and composed for Rangeela.  Following the success of Rangeela’s music, he worked in other Bollywood hits like Dil Se, Taal and many more.

Rahman started engaging in international music and his “Bombay Theme” later reappeared in his score for Deepa Mehta’s Fire and a number of compilations and other media forms. It was featured in the 2002 Palestinian film Divine Intervention and the 2005 Nicolas Cage film, Lord of War.

He kept on doing exemplary work for international, Bollywood and Tamil movies. Guru, Jodha Akbar, Highway, Rockstar etc were some of his tremendous projects  in Bollywood. His score for his first full-fledged Hollywood film, the 2009 comedy Couples Retreat, won the BMI London Award for Best Score. Rahman’s composition for 2008’s Slumdog Millionaire won a Golden Globe and two Oscar Awards (a first for an Asian) and the songs “Jai Ho” and “O… Saya” from the movie were internationally successful.


Rahman has been involved in non-film projects as well. Vande Mataram, an album of original compositions released for India’s 50th anniversary of its independence in 1997, is one of India’s bestselling non-film albums.

The variety of techniques he uses and his habit of experimentation with music is what sets him apart from others. Skilled in Carnatic, Western and Hindustani classical music and the Qawwali style of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahman is noted for film songs amalgamating elements of these and other genres. He layers instruments from different musical idioms in an improvisational style.

Other than this, Rahman has taken part in innumerable international tours, concerts and also owns a well-renowned music school in Chennai.

This man has given the world beguiling music and this is the reason behind his large international fan following.

We actually need more musicians like him who have the caliber to take music to spectacular levels.

We hope that this man keeps delivering his magic and that his future projects and endeavours give new dimensions to music.

We wish a very happy birthday to A.R. Rahman!!

May you live long and keep spreading the beauty of music.

Akanksha Sharma

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