Not everybody can play like Pelé or Sachin: AR Rahman on 'scoring' for sporting greats

Seema Sinha

May,10 2016 10:52 11 IST

Oscar-winning composer AR Rahman has both cricket and football on his mind these days — but it’s not for the reasons you may think.

On the one hand, Rahman has recently scored the music for Pelé: Birth of a Legend — a biopic on the football hero that releases this week in India. On the other hand, he is also composing music for the Sachin Tendulkar biopic (Sachin: A Billion Dreams).

Although the “Mozart of Madras” isn’t much of a sports aficionado, he does feel sporting heroes must be celebrated for the simple reason that sports unifies people.

AR Rahman is composing music for both 'Pele: Birth of a Legend' and 'Sachin: A Billion Dreams'. Image from IBNlive

AR Rahman is composing music for both 'Pele: Birth of a Legend' and 'Sachin: A Billion Dreams'. Image from IBNlive

“Not everybody can play as extraordinarily as Pelé or Sachin, but sports bring people closer to each other. I love the fact that minor divisions in people go off because of sports or movies as they love sharing it (sic). It’s worth spending time to create music for Pele or for Sachin,” says Rahman, in a chat with Firstpost. “But I am starting to enjoy football and probably will take up the sport some day.”

Initially, Rahman says, working on the Pelé project was intimidating. Gradually, however, he found himself totally immersed in the Brazilian style of music. “In the beginning I wondered, ‘Where was I?’ but once I got into it there was no looking back, I was in that world. That is the beauty of art, you get engaged in the character, in the lifestyle and setting of the movie. You become that, everything else, you feel, is wrong and only that which you are doing will feel right. Also, I am a big fan of world music. Somewhere, sometime in my childhood, I have listened to lot of Brazilian music, so it’s like déjà vu,” says Rahman.

As for the music for the Sachin biopic, Rahman says it is still being worked on. “The music has to reflect the period of ’70s-80s. From his childhood to the ’90s, to what the music is like today. Music has to come from (Sachin’s city) Mumbai and then he’s an international sports star, so the music has to reflect that aspect as well,” he explains.

Incidentally, Rahman sees a lot of parallels between his and Pelé’s lives. “My father would help lot of people but when he was about to make it independently, he died. He died the same day — probably on the day of one of his biggest releases... It is very similar in the movie on Pele. His father was an aspiring soccer player but could never make it and this seed of aspiration which he sowed made Pele a huge superstar. It's a blessing. When I watched the movie, I was amazed how close it was to my life. The movie is a lesson for every aspiring father who never made it and the kids took over. It will teach many people never to lose hope,” says Rahman.

Sports biopics aren’t the only thing keeping Rahman occupied — there’s Ashutosh Gowariker’s Mohenjo Daro, which releases in August. After composing stellar soundtracks for previous Gowariker films like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar, the duo has collaborated yet again for this historical romance that has Hrithik Roshan in the lead.

“We have created music out of our imagination and made it like a juice!” Rahman tells us, laughing. “Every time I have worked with Ashutosh, he is like a professor. He loves every bit of it. When I make some music and then change it, he gets annoyed. ‘Why did you change it?’ he gets excited and demands to know. He takes a lot of time to unwind. I can change and create something new but he gets so attached to things!”

Aside from rare instances, Rahman is known to be quite the night owl — he works throughout the night. But nowadays, jet lag has turned his schedule quite topsy-turvy.

“I continue to work at 2 am, but it all depends on the jet lag. Sometimes it takes two-three days to settle down. I don’t know whether I will continue like this...depends upon my health. But these days I am following the clock of India,” Rahman tells us. He chuckles, then adds: “I get up at 5 am, say my prayers, sleep at 11 pm. It is ulta for me, it is boring!”