A.R. Rahman: The Mozart of Madras

If you haven’t heard of composer A.R. Rahman before, it may be because you are a fan of Hollywood but not Bollywood. Mr. Rahman has sold more than 100 million records, and with the success of Slumdog Millionaire, his music is now becoming familiar to Western audiences. Born in Madras (now Chennai) India in 1966, Mr. Rahman, a convert to Sufi Islam, continues to live and work there.

Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack

Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack

His score for Slumdog Millionaire has been nominated for two Academy Awards. He also has two nominations for Best Song from the same movie, “O Saya” and “Jai Ho” (which means “be victorious”). Only two Indians have ever won an Oscar. In 1983, Bhanu Athaiya won for best costume design for Gandhi, and Satyajit Ray, the director of The Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito, The World of Apu) received a lifetime achievement award in 1992.

Slumdog Millionaire has already been a big winner in the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). The award for best music went to A.R. Rahman for the original score of Slumdog Millionaire, beating out the competition from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Alexandre Desplat), Dark Knight (Hans Zimmer, James Newton Howard), Mamma Mia! (Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus), and Wall•E (Thomas Newman). The BAFTA was presented to Mr. Rahman by Kylie Minogue, the Australian pop singer/songwriter who is collaborating with him on his next project, a film called Blue.

See Also:
Talking Shop: AR Rahman [BBC News; February 17, 2009]
‘Slumdog’ Composer Rahman, ‘Mozart of Madras,’ Vies for Oscars [Bloomberg.com; February 22, 2009]
‘Slumdog’ Fusionist in Oscar Spotlight [NY Times; February 20, 2009]