Allah Rakha Rahman (Tamil: ஏ.ஆர்.ரஹ்மான்; born on January 6, 1966 as A.S. Dileep Kumar in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India) is a hugely popular Indian film composer. He is a native Tamilian. He made his debut in 1992 with Mani Ratnam's Tamil movie, Roja (Rose), which was subsequently dubbed into many languages. Yodha marked his debut in Malayalam, also in 1992 and Ram Gopal Verma's Rangeela (Colorful) (1995) was the first Hindi movie to have Rahman as the music director. He is a recipient of the Padma Shri, which is one of India's highest civilian national honours.
Rahman is the only son of R. K. Sekhar, who was a composer, arranger and conductor for Malayalam films. His father died when Rahman was nine years old, and his family used to rent out musical equipment to make ends meet, something they found very difficult. During those hard times, a Sufi (Muslim) saint helped them spiritually. This led Dileep to convert to Islam, changing his name to Allah Rakha Rahman.
At the age of 11, Rahman joined the troupe of Indian composer Ilaiyaraja as a keyboardist. He later played on the orchestra of M.S. Vishwanathan and Ramesh Naidu, and accompanied Zakir Hussain and Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan on world tours. The experience allowed him to obtain a scholarship to Trinity College at Oxford University, where he received a degree in Western classical music.
In 1991, Rahman began his own studio (attached to his house), called the Panchathan Record Inn. He initially composed music for use in advertisements, the title music on popular Indian Television channels and music in documentaries, among other projects. Rahman was, at first, hesitant about composing music for the Indian film industry primarily because most film makers at the time used songs as "fillers" - a means by which the audience was given a break from the movie's plot. In 1991 he was approached by film director Mani Ratnam, who offered Rahman the job as composer of music for his upcoming film Roja, at a price of Rs. 25,000. Rahman accepted, and the movie's superhit debut made him a household name in Tamil Nadu virtually overnight and led Rahman to receive the Rajat Kamal award for best music director at the Indian National Film Awards, the first time ever by a debutant. Rahman has since then gone on to win the award 3 more times (for Minsaara Kanavu (Electric Dreams, Tamil) in 1997, Lagaan (Tax, Hindi) in 2002 and Kannathil Muthamittal (A Peck on the Cheek, Tamil) in 2003), the most ever by any composer.
When Rahman arrived on the Indian music scene with his first film Roja, the music industry in India was going through a crisis with the retirement of older music composers and the lack of innovation in Indian film music. Roja was a massive hit, and Rahman followed it up with a number of other extremely popular films, including Bombay, Rangeela, Dil Se and Taal . The huge sales of these albums prompted movie producers to take film music more seriously.
Rahman's work is also unique in the fact that his collaborations with a few movie directors have always resulted in hugely successful albums. In particular, he has worked with Mani Ratnam on eight movies (until 2004) (see list of movies by Mani Ratnam featuring A R Rahman), all of which have been musical superhits. Also notable is his collaboration with the director S. Shankar (Gentleman, Kadhalan, Indian, Jeans, Mudhalvan, Nayak, Boys and Sivaji).
He made an album Vande Mataram (1996) on India's national song. His soulful rendering of the title song in the album again skyrocketed both the composition and the composer to top of the charts. The song also established Rahman as a polished singer.
He followed it up with an album called Jana gana mana, a huge conglomeration of performances by all the leading exponents/artists of Indian classical music.
His latest work includes Mani Ratnams's Yuva, Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities, Bose - The Forgotten Hero, Swades, Mangal Pandey - The Rising and Rang De Basanti.
He is currently working on Mani Ratnam's next venture Guru, and on one of Shyam Benegal's most expensive ventures, Chamki Chameli, which is set for release in 2007.
He also composes jingles and signature tunes for a number of brands, the most popular of them being his tune for Airtel. Recently Rahman composed the tune for WorldSpace, with whom he is attached as a Brand Ambassador.
Andrew Lloyd Webber, a well known composer of musicals, was impressed with Rahman's unique style and therefore hired him to compose his maiden stage production Bombay Dreams (2002). This play was well received in England and opened him up to new vistas in Hollywood. Furthermore, Rahman, along with the Finnish folk music band Värttinä, composed the music for The Lord of the Rings musical, which opened in Toronto on March 23, 2006.
Rahman received more international attention with this article in the TIME magazine. Rahman's first movie album Roja was listed in TIME magazine's TOP 10 Movie Soundtracks of all time; source. According to BBC Rahman is reported to have sold 100 million records world-wide.
In 2000, Rahman's annual income was estimated to be around $4 million (Rs.180 million) from worldwide endorsements and royalties dating back to Roja (1992). According to Rediff.com, rights for his Tamil album Kandukondain Kandukondain (2000) were sold for an astonishing record sum of Rs.22 million. This record, for Tamil cinema, still remains unbeaten six years hence.
In addition to influencing western audiences, Rahman also impressed eastern audiences with his music so much that he was tapped by Chinese director He Ping to provide music for the Chinese film Warriors of Heaven and Earth in 2003 IMDB. The music of this film was very much appreciated in Asia and in India.
On May 23rd 2006, a two-disc album soundtrack, titled Introducing A.R. Rahman, was released by Times Square Records, featuring 25 songs he composed from Tamil film soundtracks spanning 1993-2001. The compillation soundtrack was very well received upon release.
On July 16th, 2006, Rahman performed to a sell-out crowd at the 26000+ capacity natural amphitheatre, Hollywood Bowl along with noted Indian artists such as Sukhwinder Singh, Hariharan, and Sadhana Sargam, as well as American performing groups Raagapella and Global Rhythms. This was the first time that a world music performance at the Hollywood Bowl was sold-out completely.
Awards and nominations
A.R. Rahman has won the following awards:
A.R. Rahman has been nominated for the following awards:
Note: "Year" indicates the year the earliest version of any multi-language movie was released. Movies with the year next to the title dictates that the film was either dubbed or released later than the original version of the movie.
The following films had soundtracks reused from previous albums:
The soundtrack of Spike Lee's Inside Man (2006), features the song Chaiyya Chaiyya from the Hindi film Dil Se, directed by Mani Ratnam.
Rahman (born Dileep Kumar) is the second among four children of R.K. Shekhar and Khatija Begum (Kasthuri). He has three sisters, Rehana (Kanchana), Talat (Bala) and Israth. He has three children - Kathija, Raima and Rhumi.