“Every time I would perform it would be a disaster because…” Rahman speaks

A. R. Rahman Concert, Delhi

Fever 104 – Delhi’s hottest radio channel has got some great news for all those living in the capital of India. After a gap of 15 years, A. R. Rahman is ready to perform a live concert on 17th November. Enjoy the special chat between RJ Lokesh and the ‘Mozart of Madras’ A. R. Rahman.

RJ Lokesh sharing his experience facing the living legend
A. R. Rahman

Many musical days ago, our boss had promised me that we will get to meet AR Rahman himself, at our very own Fever 104 studio. Needless to share, we did not believe him. However, when in the month of September, we were told to get gearing for a visit from Rahman himself, we couldn’t wait to meet the maestro. As a token of our enthusiasm we decided to put our singing chords together and hum a few lines.

In anticipation

"Rahman is on his way.. he is almost here.." we could hear a buzz and suddenly we all bunched together to launch into our much rehearsed number for the great musician. On landing on our floor, he was given a rather traditional welcome and then shepherded to the main lounge where we poured our singling skills into a medley of his music!

All the while, we were singing, we kept craning our necks for a closer peek at him and after the song, he was amongst us, shaking hands with one and all. A winning smile, a shinning countenance and a bemused expression; and it struck us that he is a giant of music, but here he is, mingling with all of us with such graciousness and ease. He complemented our singing and smilingly said that he was much taken in by our spirit. "A little out of tune, but I loved the spirit", was Rahman’s reaction and we all burst out laughing.

The perfectionist

By now, we were ready to hug him and ask him all those questions that were burning inside and also get him to sign memoirs for us. And then suddenly, it was time for him to get smuggled away.. In between answering our questions, laughing with us and sharing a joke or two, Rahman, the genius, also touched us by his humility and his readiness to share our big moment. A. R. Rahman struck us as someone totally grounded and in touch with reality.

Lokesh: How are you feeling to be here in Delhi?
Rahman: I am feeling excited for the show that is scheduled on the 17 November.

Lokesh: So how excited are you about the whole concert and the talent hunt? We’ve never had such kind of a talent hunt ever in the radio industry.
Rahman: I think it’s a great opportunity for me as well as the winner to share the stage because the winner is going to come and sing a song in the concert.

Lokesh: And you’ve been in the industry for the past 16 years so what took you so long to perform in Delhi?
Rahman: You know in my childhood days, I was in a rock band and every time I would perform it would be a disaster because of the lack of equipment and the lack of expertise on part of the people who handled the shows. My first show happened after five years of Roja in Malaysia. I selected venues outside India because of pushing the thing forward and in 2002 we started doing shows in India regularly so I was waiting for the right time to come. Of course this concert in favour of Fever 104 is a big statement for us.

Lokesh: What are your expectations from Delhiites?
Rahman: Ummm.. you guys say that the song list is different in all the stations all across India, say in Bangalore and in Delhi for example. So I am looking forward for a list where people can send their favourite songs and we’ll try to perform it on the stage even if it’s an odd number.

Lokesh: Since this whole thing is so huge, what is that you are looking for? Any pre requisites for the talent of Delhi?
Rahman: Well, I am actually looking for a unique voice. It’ll be a starting point to use them at the concert.

Lokesh: Can you elaborate on how you define uniqueness?
Rahman: I think when you hear a voice it should create something – magic. Then you realise that there is something that you can’t actually explain.

Lokesh: Ok and you’ll be giving them training for a week down in Chennai.
Rahman: Well it’s not only a training. It’s just to get the fair out of them so that they can come here and perform.

Lokesh: And since we’re talking about the new talent, I think that you have always promoted the new talent in the industry. I think going back in time, Baba Sehgal and Shweta Shetty in Rukmini Rukmini in Roja. Then you also made Hans Raj Hans sing in Nayak, then Javed Ali and now the latest sensation, the national award winner Naresh Iyer who sang a fantastic song Roobaroo in Rang de Basanti. Are you always looking out for something new in the industry and give them a boost?
Rahman: Because song creation is an art and can’t be done perfectly with a formula so when we’re writing a song it’s just in rough. Even when Naresh Iyer sang on the track it was with us for couple of months and then we felt that it’s a great voice and then we realised that he could be the final voice. So there is no pre-planning for that kind of stuff.

Lokesh: So how does it feel, working during the night?
Rahman: I think music is not a 9 to 5 job. It needs headroom where you can push yourself and go further when it demands and that’s one of the reasons why when you start in the night, there are no hindrances of any kind. Most of my work is peacefully done at night.

Lokesh: Do you have any fond memories of Delhi that you can recall?
Rahman: Well, right now I think its Hindustani classical music or qawwali music which is pretty strong. I think of Nizamuddin Dargah where they perform all the qawwalis and Hindustani classical concerts which I’ve seen and apart from that I think its your radio.

Lokesh:. And how about the city, have you travelled in a metro?
Rahman: No I wanted to but couldn’t manage.

Lokesh: So what’s the line up of songs do we have for the 17th?
Rahman: Guru, Dil Se, RDB, Roja and probably some other stuff from my international compositions.

Lokesh: Thank you so much Rahman for being with us. It was a pleasure having you here in the studios and all the very best for the concert.

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Courtesy of the transcript : HT Media
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