AR Rahman's 25-year career to be commemorated at IIFA 2017

Pallavi Rebbapragada

July 06, 2017 19:52:51 IST

When the IIFA 2017 extravaganza kicks off in New York over 13-15 July, a special segment will be dedicated to the music of AR Rahman. IIFA Rocks will commemorate 25 years of Rahman's association with the film industry. Diljit Dosanjh is expected to kickstart the performances while a medley of voices — Hariharan, Kailash Kher, Mika Singh, Mohit Chauhan, Jonita Gandhi, Neeti Mohan, Javed Ali, Haricharan Seshadri and Kamaal Khan — will perform Rahman's compositions.

This 18th edition of IIFA comes at a time when the soundtrack of Roja — which was listed in TIME magazine’s ‘10 Best Soundtracks’ of all time, turns a quarter of a century old. At an IIFA press conference organised in New Delhi this week, Firstpost caught up with AR Rahman for a brief chat.

We began by asking him how difficult it was, for AR Rahman to compete with AR Rahman.

“In life, your influences or how you feel, keeps changing. I was a bachelor, then got married, then had children, then opened a school, and became a principal. My roles in life changed — but music never changed. According to that, things evolve and my compositions change,” Rahman told us.

Speaking of evolution, this year, the composer recreated his iconic track 'Urvashi Urvashi' from the movie Kadhalan (1994) with crowd-sourced lyrics. With topical references to demonetisation and Donald Trump, it garnered 6.4 million views on being uploaded to MTV India’s Facebook Page.

The idea of Indian nationalism seems to have come a long way since Rahman released his album of patriotic music, Maa Tujhe Salaam, two decades ago, at the golden jubilee of Indian independence. “When Bharat Bala and I composed Maa Tujhe Salaam, there was nothing out there. It was like a revelation. A national song cannot be forced, one has to feel it from within. It is made with passion and love and that is why it still resonates with the young audience,” said Rahman, who flew into the capital after the music launch of Gurinder Chadha’s Partition:1947 (known as Viceroy House in English). He confesses that when he saw the Hindi version of Chadha's film, he decided to make the music for it because he feels the younger generation is judgmental about Partition and there was a need for a change in perception about the subject.

Rahman, who converted to Sufi Islam from Hinduism in 1989 at the age of 23, represents a spiritual neutrality. “I think we have great cultural wealth in this country, there’s Bhakti music, Sufi music. What I notice in my concerts is a unified response, be it for 'O Palan Hare' (Lagaan, 2001) or 'Khwaja Mere Khwaja' (Jodha Akbar, 2008). There is a love, a magic that co-exists with music that caters to commercial movies,” the 50-year-old Academy Award winner said, adding that he'd just heard 'Khwaja Mere Khwaja' playing at the airport (when he made his way to Delhi) and it reinstated his conviction.

“The idea of music is to liberate the listener and lead him to a frame where he feels he is elevated,” Rahman has previously said. IIFA 2017 will pay an ode to the man whose music has become an indelible part of our consciousness, from the days of Roja to eternity.

Updated Date: Jul 13, 2017 18:38 PM