KUALA LUMPUR: India’s Grammy and Academy award-winning musician A.R. Rahman celebrates his 25 years of glory in the music industry through “One Heart: The A.R. Rahman Concert Film”, which was released in over 100 cinemas in Malaysia on Aug 30.
The Chennai-born acclaimed musician, who was here to attend the premiere screening of the film at TGV Cinemas at Suria KLCC on Aug 30, met hundreds of fans who had gathered there to take photographs of the maestro and greet him. The crowd went wild shouting, ‘We love you, Rahman Sir’.
The 90-minute documentary film features 15 of the most popular songs composed by Rahman, as well as in-depth interviews with him and unseen backstage scenes from his previous concerts. He also talks about the bond he shares with the artists he had worked with on his most recent world tour.
Rahman’s band comprises talented singers Jonita Gandhi, Shiraz Uppal, Haricharan Seshdari and Annette Philip, as well as guitarist Keba Jeremiah, violinist Anne Marie Calhoun, flautist Ashwin Srinivasan, keyboardist Karthikeyan Devarajan, bass guitarist Mohini Dey and renowned music director, singer and drummer Ranjit Barot.
Rahman, an introvert
Just before the premiere screening, Rahman met with the Malaysian media and he shared with them how the idea of producing the “One Heart” film came about.
“I have always been making music in my studio for 25 years. I am more of an introvert and that passion (for music) has given me happy years.
“But on the US tour (in 2015), after five or six concerts, we felt we were having great vibes, great musicians who performed daily. So I decided to do something different and I took the camera to document the rest of the concerts.”
He said the footage was with him for some time until production company YM Movies decided to turn it into a documentary film.
“That motivated me to finish this, and here we have a movie, which speaks its own story, blending with love, passion and intricate details of music today,” he said.
Rahman, who is dubbed the “Mozart of Madras” and has won two Oscars for his soundtrack in the 2008 Hollywood hit “Slumdog Millionaire”, said all proceeds from the film would go to One Heart Foundation, a new initiative spearheaded by him to help support senior musicians and their families.
Music as medicine, pacifier
To a question, Rahman said when he engaged with music in his early years, he found in it the power of love and a position to change the people’s mindset as the world was then going through several challenges such as the 9/11 attacks (on the Twin Towers in New York in 2001) and cultural differences.
He deeply felt that people needed to be reminded of love and he viewed music as a powerful tool to use to do that.
“With (all) those conflicts (out there), I saw music as a medicine and pacifier, and that gave me hope in life. That’s why I travelled a lot and I decided to give back through music.
“We have to find a reason to be passionate, otherwise you will feel you have done it all,” he said.
Rahman, who composes mostly Tamil and Hindi songs, was also asked to comment about his audience’s preference to watch him perform songs in the language of their choice.
His audience, he responded, usually consisted of people of many ethnicities, “and I have to carry on, go with the general vibe and they will come to understand there is music under one umbrella. It is simply a state of mind.”
Barot then chipped in to say that Rahman has composed over 600 songs and at each concert, they face the monumental task of selecting just a few numbers to make the song lists.
“This itself is a big problem because there are many songs in all languages that are loved by audiences worldwide,” said Barot.
On another note, Rahman shared his experiences of learning new things whilst producing the “One Heart” film that were unknown to a music composer, such as wielding the camera, directing, script writing and doing post-production work.
“I was humbled with this first attempt,” he said, adding that learning made him feel young.
When asked who he would like to collaborate with, his prompt reply was “Michael Jackson”. Apparently, the King of Pop had expressed an interest in working with Rahman and the two had met twice just four months before Michael Jackson passed away on June 25, 2009.
“We almost had plans (to work) together,” he said, adding that the “One Heart” documentary film was along the lines of Michael Jackson’s “This Is It” concert film that was released in October 2009.
A.R Rahman may direct a movie in Malaysia
Meanwhile, Malik Streams Corporation managing director Datuk Abdul Malik Dasthigeer, who has the distribution rights for “One Heart” in Malaysia, told reporters he planned to make Malaysia as a destination hub for the Indian film industry to encourage more tourists to visit Malaysia.
He added that there were no plans as yet to get Rahman to stage another concert in Malaysia. The musician’s last concert in Kuala Lumpur was in May last year.
“Actually, there are no plans for a concert yet. But we are in the midst of discussing a suggestion made by me in India.
“It’s more than a concert. Rahman is planning to direct a movie in Malaysia. I can’t reveal much details as the discussions are still ongoing,” said Abdul Malik.
Abdul Malik, who was the joint producer of Tamil superstar Rajnikanth starrer “Kabali” last year, also revealed that he planned to bring in some 100 Bollywood and Kollywood film artists to watch a cricket match at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in December.
Plans are also in the offing to get the artists to participate in a friendly football match against Malaysia.
“We have not fixed the exact date yet,” he said. He, however, declined to provide more details about his plans.
“One Heart: The A.R.Rahman Concert Film” is now playing in cinemas nationwide. – Bernama