Music

‘Pathinettam Padi’ was a learning experience: AH Kaashif

AH Kaashif

AH Kaashif   | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

The composer talks about working in Shanker Ramakrishnan’s directorial debut and lessons learnt from his uncle AR Rahman

When I tell AH Kaashif that he is a man of few words like his uncle AR Rahman (ARR), he breaks into a smile and says: “That runs in the family.” Kaashif, the new star on the music horizon, is very much like ARR in the way he speaks, smiles and puts across his views. “GV is also like that,” adds Kaashif, referring to singer-actor GV Prakash Kumar, another nephew of ARR.

Kaashif was in the capital city last week to watch Pathinettam Padi, his debut work in Malayalam “with the fans”. It’s his second project as a composer, the first being Jyothika-starrer Kaatrin Mozhi, a remake of Tumhari Sulu. He came on board Pathinettam Padi, the directorial debut of actor-scenarist Shanker Ramakrishnan, nearly two years ago. “Shanker sir liked the works of Qutub-E-Kripa, my band, and he came to Chennai to meet the team. But only I was there at that time. So he listened to my work and said, ‘You are my music director’. In fact, this is the first movie I had signed but Kaatrin Mozhi released first,” says Kaashif.

When he came down to Thiruvananthapuram to hear the script, Shanker took him around the city. “He showed me the places where he grew up, especially those places that figure in the movie. I can’t remember those spots now except for Government Model School. But what struck me the most was his narration. I was stunned by it. He wanted four songs, that too in different genres, and that was the best a musician could ask for,” he says.

Kaashif admits that language was a problem, initially. “While working on the first song, I was clueless. That song wasn’t used in the movie. I hope Shanker sir will use it in his next project,” he says with a chuckle.

The first song that made it to the film was ‘Aganaga’, “a love celebration song”, sung by Haricharan Seshadri and Suryansh Jain, followed by the viral Sufi track picturised on Beemapally Dargah Shareef, sung by Shahabaz Aman, Nakul Abhyankar and Haricharan. Kaashif also brought in the sensational Jonita Gandhi to croon a party track, ‘Kaattalakal’. The fourth track was an “orchestrated version” of ‘Vancheesha Mangalam’, the anthem of the erstwhile state of Travancore, sung by Manjari.

Creating the soundscape

Background score had its challenges, says the musician. “The project was a learning experience for me. It was tiring, but totally worth it. There were days when I worked for 36 hours at a stretch. I reworked the score several times because I felt that it was not matching up to the canvas of the project. There were a lot of stars and future stars. Then I had to create something that measured up to the star power of Mammookka [Mammootty],” he says.

The 23-year-old had come down to the city with his mother, Fathima Rafiq. “She had come here when I was in her womb. This time we went to Beemapally Dargah Shareef. My mother has been the biggest motivating factor in my life. She pushes me to work hard more than anyone else,” Kaashif says. Talking about his maternal grandfather, the great RK Sekhar, Kaashif says that he has heard a lot about him from his grandmother, Kareema Begum.

“My mom was a small child when he passed away. My grandmother told me that he was a very busy musician and also about his long-standing association with MK Arjunan sir,” he adds.

The Rahman factor
  • Being AR Rahman’s nephew creates a lot of expectations, Kaashif says. “Sometimes people ask me to make music better than him. I just tell them that they need to come to me to listen to what I have made,” he says. He does update his uncle about his works. “However, when there is a problem, he wants me to find the way out on my own. When I say that I am stuck in a particular situation, he tells me, ‘I’ve faced all this. Now you go and face it. Only then will you know how to handle it’,” he smiles. Kaashif has worked with ARR in movies such as Mersal, Kaatru Veliyidai, Beyond the Clouds and 2.0, among others. “Whenever he calls me, I work with him,” he says.
  • Coming from the “clan of AR Rahman”, Kaashif too doesn’t work in the morning. “I prefer to work after lunch. My uncle usually starts working by 4 pm and it can go up to 4 am. At times, in the morning, he goes on a drive and listens to what he has composed. We might go to the beach, park the car and listen to the tracks. That has happened many times,” he says.
  • What has he learnt from him? “Music, of course. More than that, he shows me how to balance work and family. Although he is very busy, he ensures that he spends time with the family.” And his favourite ARR project? “Minsara Kanavu.”

Kaashif admits that his exposure to Malayalam film music is limited. “I am familiar with the music in movies that become a hit in Tamil Nadu, such as Premam and Bangalore Days!” he says.

A self-taught musician, he wasn’t sure about taking music as a career until he was in class ten. “I had a band and it was when we started winning contests that I decided to continue with music. We also got a chance to perform at the London Olympics. So even though I joined college to study visual communication, I dropped out. When I told my uncle about this and said that I wanted to work with him, he asked me to come over,” Kaashif explains. He has taken training in piano from AR Rahman Foundation’s KM Music Conservatory.

Kaashif says that listeners in South India are open to new experiments in music, whereas it is not the case with the North. “One good thing that has come out of Bollywood recently is rap music, thanks to Gully Boy. Now there are a lot of rap musicians in Tamil who are getting noticed,” he says.

A big fan of Yuvan Shankar Raja, Kaashif is confident about handling all genres of music. “I have a lot of songs with me, which I would like to put out one day. Now I am going with the flow and have a few projects in Tamil. Meanwhile, I want to work in more Malayalam movies, probably with Alphonse [Puthran] and directors of films such as Bangalore Days and Drishyam.”

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 2:17:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/ah-kaashif-on-working-in-pathinettam-padi-and-his-uncle-ar-rahman/article28350391.ece

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