INTERVIEW | a.r.rAHMAN Chennai

'MeToo has to happen. Everyone has a mother, sister or a daughter,' says A.R. Rahman

A.R Rahman  

After conquering Bollywood and Hollywood, music composer A.R. Rahman has, in the last few years, quietly made a solid return to his home ground, Chennai. He has signed on multiple Tamil film projects with leading stars like Kamal Haasan, Vijay and Vikram. He has a musical treat for his Chennai fans next week, when he performs at a live concert at YMCA, Nandanam. Post a press meet promoting the concert, the Oscar winner sat down for an exclusive chat with The Hindu. Excerpts:

How excited are you about your upcoming concert?

Some of the sections in it will be specific to Chennai and will not be repeated anywhere else. Most of my musicians are here, and so are the resources. We are planning mostly Tamil songs, but might include a few Hindi numbers too.

You seem to be coming back to Tamil cinema in a big way in the last few years, with multiple film signings…

After 2015, when I got done with my Hollywood projects, my mom was unwell, and I wanted to spend more time with her. That was also when my children were growing up. These last four years are special because I got the time to nurture them. They are all into music. They have teachers, but it is special when we teach them, as a parent.

The first song of Bigil, your upcoming film with Vijay, is ‘Singapenney’ that celebrates women. So, who is your ‘Singapenney’?

My mother, of course, and my wife, daughters and sisters. All of them are my support system, emotionally and spiritually. It has been amazing being with them, and being inspired by them.

When the ‘MeToo’ movement broke out last year, you wrote about how “you would love to see our industry become cleaner and more respectful of women”. Do you think that change is happening?

It has to happen. Everyone has a mother, sister or daughter, and sometimes, you just have to segregate the energies and not let it poison. Food has to be separated from liquor. Like that, your mind has to be compartmentalised because it is a monster. Now, because of the shaming on social media, a lot of people are aware of such things. I hope the situation changes.

Fans of ‘Thalapathy’ Vijay are waiting for the ‘Verithanam’ song in which the actor sings for you for the first time. How has it come out?

He has sung well. His voice made a lot of difference to the song.

Has this emphasis on signing Tamil films made you cut down on Bollywood projects?

From 2016, I have been developing two projects – Le Musk and 99 Songs. The former is another game totally, since it is virtual reality and a sensory project. I had to do a lot of research; we had professors from MIT as advisers. People across the world are curious about this project, after a presentation at Cannes XA. With 99 Songs, as a producer, the vision was to do a movie that I liked. So it took time. It’s in very good hands now.

You are directing, writing and producing now. How challenging was it fitting into these new roles?

I think it’s all about evolution. Everything is about growth, about what you want to say as an artiste.

Are we looking at a ‘Rahman 2.0’ now, with songs and multiple explorations?

For me, every song is a 2.0. Because it is being listened to by millions of people, we work on it many times to get that perfect balance.

Mani Ratnam, is said to be working on an on-screen adaptation of ‘Ponniyin Selvan’… are you a part of it, along with others like Vairamuthu?

Yes, I am part of it. There’s pre-production going on now, and it’s a project that we already worked on five years back. I'm meeting Mani sir only next week to talk about it, so I'm not sure if Vairamuthu is on board.

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Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 2:27:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/being-an-artiste-is-about-evolution-growth/article28802476.ece

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