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Updated: August 11, 2013 22:36 IST

In a class of his own

LAKSHMI KRUPA
Comment (8)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
A.R. Rahman with his wife Saira Banu. Photo: R. Ragu
The Hindu A.R. Rahman with his wife Saira Banu. Photo: R. Ragu

Right now, in India, jobs that pay musicians well are all in cinema, cinema and more cinema! I want to change this. I want musicians to discover new ways to entertain audiences, says A. R. Rahman

It is an overcast late afternoon, thankfully. A.R. Rahman arrives late for his date with the press ahead of the launch of The KM College of Music and Technology by the Ambanis (Mukesh and Nita). But once the question and answer session begins Rahman manages to win us over with his politeness. “Get a chair for her please,” he says, striking a pose for the camera, sitting in front of a piano. Once we are seated comfortably, Rahman gears up to talk about the setting up of this new college in Arumbakkam in Chennai and why musicians need opportunities outside the realm of cinema.

Why did you decide to set up a college now?

KM Music Conservatory was a result of quizzing my own self for over 20 years about what I can do. It was a great success. But in a conservatory you can’t do certain things — like digital music or teach DJ-ing for instance. I wanted to create a bigger platform from which more musicians can benefit.

First Conservatory, then the Sunshine Orchestra and now a full-fledged college. Why this need to ‘give’ back?

I guess that’s what old age does to you! (Laughs) But I am at a place now where I have my other earnings and so I wanted to do this. Even if I fail, it is fine. It’s also a way to create things that help me connect. With the Sunshine Orchestra we picked children from the school right opposite our office (MGR School). They are underprivileged children who didn’t have access to music lessons. Now, you can see the video clips about the project online. Some 70 such children play cellos and violins. After its success, I feel even more motivated

Do you teach at these classes?

I do sometimes. I join them for a session once in a while.

What will the college do?

It is only in our country that musicians’ children take up other professions. Most often the musician parent advises the kid to take up something else. Everywhere else in the world I hear people say things like ‘My son performs as part of a symphony orchestra, or is a cello player…’ Right now, in India, jobs that pay musicians well are all in cinema, cinema and more cinema! I want to change this. I want musicians to discover new ways to entertain audiences. Develop their own style and create something, instead of waiting around for someone to call them and give them a chance, which is what happens in the cinema industry. A lot has changed now. Three people can get together, make a video and put it up on YouTube and end up getting discovered. Or not. But the thing is there are more options that need to be explored. KM College will not be comparable to any other educational institution. We are creating our own DNA.

About opportunities for students who will study at KM…

Even a student from our preparatory class was offered a job and we don’t have a problem with these things. In the middle of a course, if a student finds work, we will be supportive. We have to facilitate more industry interface, however, at this college. It’s happening. But more needs to be done. We have world-class studios in the college which we plan to rent out to professionals. We are hopeful that our students will get to intern in these studios too.

Its a really applaudable effort in creating a Paradigm Shift in how
music can be another steady earning profession like any other degree job
with the perks of name and fame being the icing on the cake.

This is the game changer..Need more such efforts from many such music
luminaries so that it unlocks all cocooned talents.

from:  Rathish
Posted on: Aug 12, 2013 at 13:43 IST

Very noble cause. Sure this will unlock the whole music industry
from cinema industry. Way to go ARR sir. You are setting another
trend in this country. Keep rocking.

from:  Ezhilan Ilanthirayan
Posted on: Aug 12, 2013 at 09:06 IST

ARR - You are a great soul man.

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Aug 12, 2013 at 09:04 IST

All Kudos to ARR! I witnessed the KMC students performing during the
last year's episodes of the Super Singer Junior 3 competitions. I was
amazed at the talents shown by the students, young and old, and I felt
that KMC augured well for the future of music -- both classical and
fusion music. Now that he had started a full-fledged college for
music, we need not doubt at all that, very soon, India will compete on
par with the western music colleges. I also applaud the Ambanis for
having come forward to help such novel and bold ventures and I wish
many other similarly-placed industrial houses to come forward to
encourage and support such efforts. We don't have any more maharajahs
to support musicians; only the industrial houses are our maharajahs!
Good Luck, ARR! -- S.K.Natarajan

from:  S.K. Natarajan
Posted on: Aug 12, 2013 at 08:14 IST

Well done Rahmanji. I am tamilian living in the UK and as you may be
aware most Universities here offer music as graduate studies which
leads to a career in Music as an artist, as a teacher in School or
College with a good salary comparable with salary in other
professions. Music colleges in India, with a rich music genre like
Carnatic, Hindustani, Folk etc offers a plenty of opportunity not only
to make a career out of music but also help propagate and sustain
music within the fabric of the society. Wish Rahmanji every success
with this new venture which could instill interest in other musically
inclined philanthropists to start similar colleges up and down the
country.

Ravi Thyagarajan, United Kingdom

from:  Ravi Thyagarajan
Posted on: Aug 12, 2013 at 00:49 IST


Music in India means classical music and its well known practitioners
are mainly from upper classes/castes. Only, very rarely, others could
access to these domains of cultural productions. These sort of
initiative may break the hereditary barriers to enter into this field
by lower classes and castes. It would, of course be a revolutionary
step in the history of music as a profession.

RAJESH KOMATH

from:  RAJESH KOMATH
Posted on: Aug 11, 2013 at 23:08 IST

"I want musicians to discover new ways to entertain audiences.
Develop their own style and create something, instead of waiting
around for someone to call them and give them a chance, which is what
happens in the cinema industry" - ARR in this Article.

OscAR Rahman wants to change the Fate of People. A very noble thought.
Pray that he succeeds. India has talent; but needs the platform and
opportunity to show it off.

Best wishes, ARR!

from:  Yamaka
Posted on: Aug 11, 2013 at 22:13 IST

Well done Rahman.Keep do such things.India is a country which can produce
hundreds of ARR.Only they need platform.ARR is showing the way.Soon we are going
to see world class performers.I wish him all success.

from:  P.Thoppiah
Posted on: Aug 11, 2013 at 19:21 IST
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