Maestro of Madras to wow the crowds

2010-10-22 15:07

The musical encounter is something like spiritual ecstasy for the megastar of Indian music, AR Rahman. “It’s like a shrine. I like being part of that good feeling,” he says during an interview in Johannesburg.

Rahman’s visit to South Africa is part of a world tour of his latest production, Jai Ho – The Journey Home.

The show includes music from Slumdog Millionaire, which earned him global acclaim, plus other tunes that are lifted from across his long career.

These include works from landmark Indian films such as Lagaan, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, Dil Se, Rang De Basanti and Roja.

He sits enthroned on the corner of a boardroom table dressed in a grey suit. Halfway into our chat, he weaves in Sufism, saints and spiritual aspects of music.

It figures because at the age of 23, Rahman changed his name from AS Dileep Kumar when he and his family embraced Islam.

They were following a family friend’s advice to pray for his ailing father with a vow to embrace Islam if he got well.

He credits his spirituality for his musical success.

“When I got this, I got it all,” he says, adding that he was guided by the sufis (saints). “If you have a teacher, you have it all,” he says.

Rahman does seem to have it all.

Time magazine has called him the Mozart of Madras and one of the world’s 100 most influential people.

He has produced more than 100 movie soundtracks.

One of these compositions, Bombay Theme, holds the distinction of being featured in over 50 international compilations.

Rahman has sold more than 150 million copies of his work, including music translated in half a dozen languages.

His work on Slumdog Millionaire earned him two Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, two Grammys and a Bafta.

Jai Ho, the theatrical experience, has been on tour since June this year and has already been to 16 major cities across the world.

South Africans will enjoy it to mark the 150th anniversary of the first arrival of Indians in the country.

» Jai Ho tour dates: The Sun City ­Superbowl, Saturday, November 20;
The Grand Arena, GrandWest, Cape Town, Wednesday, November 24; Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, Friday, November 26

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