New Delhi: The living legend of Indian music industry AR Rahman turns 46 today. Celebrating his 46th birthday today, the synonym for Indian music needs no formal introduction.

IN PICS: Musical Journey of Musical Maestro

Rahman who once aspired to be a computer science engineer was not a music lover. But destiny had other plans stored for him.

Like his mentor Ilaiyaraaja, the musical journey was not an easy sail. He was 11 when he joined as a keyboardist in music director Ilaiyaraaja’s troupe. He played in the orchestra of M S Vishwanathan Ramesh Naidu and Raj Koti, accompanied Zakir Hussain, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan and L Shankar on world tours.

A R Rahman or Allah Rakha Rahman started a small music recording and mixing studio called Panchathan Record Inn in 1992 in his own backyard. His initial projects were advertisement jingles and scores for Television shows and documentaries.

It was only in 1992, when he rose to instant fame after his first film project Roja, directed by Mani Ratnam which became a national hit and also brought first national award for the ace music composer.

The man who redefined contemporary Indian music and is the pride of the entire nation and an idol for millions all over the world won over the Hindi audience with his work on Ram Gopal Varma’s Rangeela, Dil Se, Taal etc. The music of Dil-se which sold like hot cakes even managed to enter the U.K. Top 1 chartbusters.

Taking the Indian music to a different strata altogether, the music maestro in 2008 gave one of his greatest contributions to Indian cinema with Slumdog Millionaire which brought the Oscars to India for the very first time.

The proud composer who has lend music to over 100 films (including films other in Hindi) gave film music a trendy legitimacy that made Indian youths, who were till then ashamed of admitting in public that they enjoyed Indian film music, dance to Humma Humma, Muqabla Muqabla, Musthafa Musthafa and Chaiyya Chaiyya at every pub, club and disco. Overnight, Indian film music considered 'infra-dig' by the youth became 'cool' and 'hep'.

Rahman is not just applauded for taking Indian music to the global platform but also considered as the ambassador of the south Indian music.

He had once said, "I hate the discrimination between south, north, Tamil, Hindi. If I represent India, that is good enough for me. But we should cross all these barriers."

The ‘Jai-Ho’ hit-maker’s strength lies not only in his perfect sense of melody and rhythm but also in his immaculate sound engineering. His compositions are an intriguing cocktail of musical pieces that literally blow your mind. His music is unique in its offbeat instrumental interludes, unconventional harmonies, and use of far from perfect voices and thumping rhythms.

One very interesting aspect of Rahman is his preference for untrained voices. Rahman says ".. a defect in the singing adds a human touch." Rahman, had introduced so many singers; the re-entry of Sujatha, Hariharan, Minmini and Unnimenon.  

Whenever, AR Rahman faced difficulties or hardships, it was his mother Kareema Begum who came as a saviour and his constant supporter.

A graduate in western classical music from Trinity College of Music at Oxford University, Rahman was also a part of local rock bands like Roots, Magic and Nemesis Avenue where he performed with his future colleagues like Suresh Peters, Ranjit Barot and Sivamani Anandan.

Rahman has also done a lot of popular ads like those for Parry's, Leo Coffee, Springz Mineral Water, Boost featuring Sachin Tendulkar and Kapil Dev, Titan, Remanika Sarees, Premier Pressure Cooker, MRF Tyres, The Hindu Young World and Asian Paints. He also scored the title music for television channels like JJTV, Sun TV and Asianet. He also scored the music for numerous television and radio commercials, scores for corporate films and documentaries, multi-media audio-visual scores national integration programmes, social awareness and public campaign programmes and international documentaries in many languages.

After the success of Roja, it was Bombay in 1995 which left a mark in the hearts of audiences. Following closely on the heels of 'Humse Hai Muqabla' and 'Bombay', Rahman's first original score in Hindi, 'Rangeela' was awaited with great expectations. 'Rangeela' became an instant runaway success. With 'Rangeela' Rahman had successfully stormed the Bollywood bastion. And with 'Musthafa Musthafa', Rahman arrived as a singer.

It was in 1995 when he got married to Saira in Chennai on March 12, 1995.

After composing many scores for several successful films and bagging accolades, it was Slumdog Millionare (1998) which not only added another feather in his cap but also brought him to the level of Legends.

Rahman’s AM Studios in Kodambakkam is located very close to his home. The studio was inaugurated by A R Rahman himself in 2005. The recording area of the studio can accommodate upto 30 musicians at a time.

Amidst all this heady success, Rahman remains unchanged. He is as humble, modest, shy, low profile, unassuming, self-effacing, devout and down-to-earth as he was at the beginning of his career. A man of few words, he believes in letting his work do all the talking. He prefers to save his energies for his work instead of fighting out numerous controversies.   

The actor turns 46 on January 6 but his fans who are addicted to his composition always want more from him and keep saying ‘Once more’ after every performance. Heartiest wishes to AR Rahman on his birthday from Jagranpost team.

Trivia

-The music genius has won fourteen Filmfare Awards, four National Film Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe, two Grammy Awards, and two Academy Awards among others.

-AR Rahman and his wife Saira Banu have 3 children, 2 daughters named katija and Rahima and a son Amin.

- Rahman and his family after getting influenced by the teachings of a Pir, who also played a vital role in curing Rahman’s sister’s health, converted to Islam. Thus AS Dileep Kumar became Allah Rakha Rahman.

- Rahman became the first Indian to bag an Oscars. He bagged two Oscars for Slumdog Millionare in 2008.

Nivedita Dash