Saturday, April 4, 2009
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).