Born On: January 6, 1966
Born In: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Career: Music Composer, Singer, Music Director, Record Producer, Instrumentalist
One of the most versatile and talented playback singers as well as composers that India has today, A.R. Rahman is a music legend who needs no introduction. A music academy in himself, Rahman has stolen the hearts of millions across the world with his stupendous and captivating performances. With several achievements that he has brought to India, he is one man who stands to be a unique and distinguished character amongst the best of the best. Such is his prolific contribution to Indian music that he has been placed in the list of World's Most Influential People by the TIME magazine in 2009. Mastering in most music forms, say Carnatic music, Western classical, Hindustani music, and Qawwali style of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Rahman blends these styles to deliver spectacular and outstanding performances, only to break the records. With more than 300 million records for over 100 films sold worldwide, Rahman stands as one of the world's all-time top selling recording artists.
A.R. Rahman was born in Chennai as A.S. Dileep Kumar to R.K. Shekhar, a notable music composer and conductor for Tamil and Malayalam films. When he was still young, his family used to rent out musical equipment to make ends meet after his father's death. Since the age of 11, he began learning how to play musical instruments under the orchestra of Malayalam composer and close friend of his father, M.K. Arjunan. Eventually, he started playing for eminent composers of those times, M. S. Viswanathan, Ilaiyaraaja, Ramesh Naidu, and Raj-Koti. During these years, he even worked as a keyboard player and an arranger in a band named "Roots", along with friends Sivamani, John Anthony, Suresh Peters, Jojo, and Raja. Opportunities flowed in as he was offered to accompany music legends Zakir Hussain, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan, and L. Shankar on world tours, thereby winning him a scholarship from Trinity College, London, board of the Trinity College of Music. The family followed the Hinduism religion until 1984 when he was introduced to Islam by a Sufi when his sister fell terribly ill. Eventually, Rahman, along with his other family members, converted to Islam in 1989, at 23 years old. Thereafter, he changed his name from A.S. Dileep Kumar to A.R. Rahman, or Allah Rakha Rahman.
Rahman's first composition came at the mere age of nine in 9175 when he accidentally played a tune on the piano in the presence of his father. Later, the recording was converted into a full-fledged song 'Vellithen Kinnam Pol' by his father for the Malayalam movie 'Penpada'. Nevertheless, his actual music career began only in 1992 with composing music scores for documentaries, jingles for advertisements and Indian Television channels, and other smaller projects. He used to record music at a recording and mixing studio in his backyard, Panchathan Record Inn, which is today one of the most advanced recording studios in India and one of Asia's most sophisticated and ultra-modern studios.
His first film composing came with Mani Ratnam's Tamil film 'Roja', which bagged him the Rajat Kamal award for Best Music Director at National Film Awards. Thereafter, there was no looking back for Rahman as he went on to compose some of the most memorable and exceptional music scores and soundtracks for both Indian and foreign movies. He has been awarded the Rajat Kamal Award thrice again for 'Minsaara Kanavu' in 1997, 'Lagaan' in 2002, and 'Kannathil Muthamittal' in 2003, a record for any composer. His popular films include 'Bombay', 'Kadhalan', 'Indira', 'Muthu', 'Love Birds', 'Rangeela', 'Taal', 'Dil Se', 'Saathiya', 'Guru', and 'Rang De Basanti'. His style of music combined natural sounds with classical, folk, jazz, reggae, soft rock and other varied styles of music.
Aside films, Rahman has also been involved in several other projects, the most eminent being the 'Vande Mataram' album, released on India's 50th independence anniversary in 1997. Till date, the album is the largest selling Indian non-film. In 1999, Rahman toured with choreographers Shobana and Prabhu Deva Sundaram, along with a Tamil danign troupe to perform with Michael Jackson in Munich, Germany. Rahman also collaborated with the international composer Andrew Lloyd Webber and Shekhar Kapur on the highly successful Bombay Dreams in 2002. With the success of the internationally acclaimed 'Slumdog Millionaire', international offers have been raving his way. Rahman bagged two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe, thereby becoming the first Asian to do so. Besides, he has also performed at the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Concert in 2010. This versatile composer has been creating scintillating music since a decade and has been regarded as 'one of the world's great living composers in any medium'.
A.R. Rahman has been married to Saira Banu, and blessed with three children, Khatija, Rahima, and Ameen.
Awards & Recognition
Madras Telugu Academy Puraskar, 1992 to 1994
National Film Award for 'Roja', 1993
Rajiv Gandhi Award, 1995
Malaysian National Award for contribution to music, 1996
National Film Award for 'Minsara Kanavu', 1997
Padma Shri Award, 2000
Padma Bhushan Award, 2001
National Film Award for 'Lagaan', 2002
Amir Khusro Sangeet Nawaz Award, 2002
National Film Award for 'Kannathil Muthamittaal', 2003
Lata Mangeshkar Samman, Awarded by Government of Madhya Pradesh, 2005
Limca Book of Records, Indian of the Year for Contribution to Popular Music, 2007
Rotary Club of Chennai Award for Lifetime Achievement, 2008
CNN-IBN Global Indian of the Year, 2009
Honorary Doctorate by Aligarh Muslim University, 2009
Honorary Doctorate by Middlesex University, 2009
Honorary Doctorate by Anna University, 2009
Fellowship by Trinity College of Music, Oxford University, 2009
Academy Award for 'Slumdog Millionaire' for Best Score and Best Song, 2009
Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score for 'Slumdog Millionaire', 2009
BAFTA Award for Best Film Music for 'Slumdog Millionaire', 2009
Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack Album and Best Song Written for a Visual Media, 2010
FICCI Global Icon, 2010
Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration, 2010
Outstanding Achievement in Music - British Asian Awards, 2010
1966: Born in Chennai, Tamil Nadu
1975: Composed first song, developed into 'Vellithen Kinnam Pol' for 'Penpada'
1989: Converted to Islam
1992: Composed music for his first film 'Roja'
1993: Received his first National Award, the Rajat Kamal Award for Best Music Director
1995: Recieved the Rajiv Gandhi Award
1997: Bestowed with second National Film Award for 'Minsara Kanavu'
2000: Honored with Padma Shri Award
2001: Presented with Padma Bhushan Award
2002: Conferred upon with third National Film Award for 'Lagaan'
2003: Bagged fourth National Film Award for 'Kannathil Muthamittal'
2005: 'Roja' listed in TIME magazine's '10 Best Soundtracks'
2009: Received two Academy Awards and a Golden Globe for 'Slumdog Millionaire'.