Friday 26 June 2009

AR Rahman | Pieces of the puzzle

The first biography to be penned on AR Rahman is full of facts but devoid of soul

Author Kamini Mathai first approached composer A.R. Rahman for the biography six years ago and the book does show some evidence of her perseverance. She’s tracked down various connections, including some complete unknowns—such as Boologarani, a distant relative, now cut off from Rahman’s family—to demystify the life of Dileep Sekhar, the man who later became A.R. Rahman. Mathai, to her credit, also manages to write without allowing awe to seep into her narrative. For the most part, Mathai has humanized the larger-than-life hero that Rahman has become and that is probably her biggest strength as a biographer, next only to the waiting involved to get close to a man like Rahman.

A.R. Rahman: The Musical Storm begins at the most important turn in the composer’s life this year: the Oscars. The beginning scratches the surface of the impact the Oscars had on Rahman—there’s nothing about how he went completely underground for a while to overcome the frenzy around him and the subsequent developments. The chapter has four pages.
But the next chapter makes up for what looks like a hurriedly put together first chapter with never-before revealed details of the life and death of his father R.K. Sekhar. Sekhar, who was known as Tiger Sekhar in the studios, was the polar opposite of Rahman at work. While Rahman is known for his freestyle approach to music and artists—both playback singers and instrumentalists—Sekhar was a terror as an arranger.
There are several events related to Sekhar’s death which had an irreversible impact on Rahman. Some of them, such as the claim that Rahman believes in numerological voodoo, are shockers.

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