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Saturday, April 4, 2009

An Insatiable Appetite For Rahman


It is true. I suffer from Rahmania -- an insatiable appetite for the music of AR Rahman. However, analyzed closely, it's merely a hunger for good music. And this longing for transformative music has, of course, led me to explore not only anything and everything put out by Rahman but to also to acquaint myself with his predecessors and potential successors. My search culminated with the discovery of two excellent pieces on Rahman. The first article is AR Rahman: The Road to the Oscars by Baradwaj Rangan, written for a forthcoming issue of the Rolling Stone magazine's Indian edition (launched in February 2008). This is a golden piece that could only have been written someone who has been living and breathing Rahman for much of the past two decades or so since Rahman burst onto the scene with his revolutionary score for the movie Roja (1992). Rangan offers juicy, must-read vignettes of Rahman's major musical milestones. The very well informed comments that follow the long piece allude to potential successors including Vishal-Shekhar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal Bhardwaj, and the most recent arrival -- Amit Trivedi -- whom I wrote about just the other day. Steven A. Kennedy's An "Unknown" Indian Film Music Master takes a slightly different angle and educates us about Ilaiyaraaja, whom most regard as Rahman's predecessor insofar as he was, prior to Rahman, the most successful music composer in South India. Like Rahman, Ilaiyaraaja is heavily classically trained and experiments with Western genres. Unlike Rahman, however, Ilaiyaraaja did not manage to penetrate audiences beyond South India. Those unfamiliar with his work would most certainly have to be non-South Indians and for them Kennedy proposes a set of suitable entry points including two instrumental works of East-West fusion (How To Name It? and Nothing But Wind) as well as two movie soundtracks (Mumbai Express and Cheeni Kum).

1 comment:

  1. Ilaiyaraaja did not step beyond South India and that was advantageous for all those days' North Indian music directors, for they could copy his music both officially and unofficially. They even went to the extent of calling him God and saying anything taken from God was not a crime, as excuses for them copying his music.

    And now, you claim he was not as successful as Rahman, despite the fact that Ilaiyaraaja was the first Indian composer (I am not saying conductor or music director or individual carnatic/other genre musician here; I mean a true composer) to go international by composing a full-length western classical symphony for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London!

    Poor you!

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