The year 2018 marks the 25th year of being in the music industry for world-renowned composer and Oscar winner AR Rahman. His upcoming Dubai concert, titled The Journey: Celebrating Music, will be held at Bollywood Parks on January 26, coinciding with Indian Republic Day.
Ahead of his Dubai return, here are 25 facts to honour his illustrious career:
1. His original name was Dilip Kumar
Rahman changed his name to Allah Rakha Rahman after converting to Islam. He even admitted that he didn’t like the name Dilip Kumar, as it didn’t match the image he had of himself.
2. First Asian to win two Oscars in the same year
He won two Oscars in 2011 for the song Jai Ho from Slumdog Millionaire — best original music score and best original song.
3. He founded Sunshine Orchestra
Through this company, Rahman welcomes underprivileged children and teaches them western classical music.
4. His first film was Roja in 1992.
Rahman says he still has the keyboard used to compose the songs from his first film in his Chennai studio.
5. He’s a multi-instrumentalist
Rahman plays many instruments including guitar, percussion, drums, keyboard, piano, accordion and harp.
6. Michael Jackson was his dream collaborator.
He missed a chance to work with the King of Pop. Rahman met him twice — once after the Oscars and the second time, which was three months after that, where they met through their agents, who were friends.
7. He composed a Punjabi song
The song was played at the opening ceremony at the 2012 Olympics in London. It was a track celebrating the Indian influence in the UK.
8. He’s performed at the White House
Rahman was invited by Barack Obama in 2009. Then, in 2015, Jai Ho, a documentary based on the evolution of his music and life, was screened at the White House.
9. He’s a member of Mick Jagger’s super-group
Called SuperHeavy, the band also comprises of heavyweights Dave Stewart, Joss Stone, and Damian Marley. Jagger wanted to showcase different musical styles, ranging from reggae to Indian.
10. He prefers to compose at night
It’s easier to concentrate in the silence of the night, Rahman says. He also prefers to work until it’s time for the morning prayers so he can pray and sleep.
11. All for charity
All the money earned from his documentary called One Heart: The AR Rahman Concert Film, went to the One Heart Music Foundation, which he set up to help aspiring musicians who can’t afford musical instruments, and their families.
12. He visits an orphanage to celebrate his birthday
Rahman doesn’t believe in lavish celebrations. One of the orphanages he visits regularly is Nesam Orphan Children’s Home in his home town of Chennai.
13. He has the same birthday as son Ameen
Both of them were born on January 6. Ameen, like his father, is starting a career in music. The 14-year-old started his singing career in the film O Kadhal Kanmani, the music for which was composed by his father.
14. He is also known as Isai Puyal
In Tamil, his native language, a person who makes people go crazy with his music is called Isai Puyal (musical cyclone).
15. There is a street in Canada named after him
Called Allah Rakha Rahman St, the street in Ontario, Canada, was named in his honour.
16. He wants to start producing films
Rahman’s first film production is said to be a movie titled 99 Songs, which is a Tamil-Hindi film.
17. He directed a short virtual reality film
Called Le Musk, the film is about perfume. Originally, Rahman wanted to create a theatre with projections all over and have scent added to it. But a few months later, his wife advised him to create it with VR as it is current and evolving.
18. Legend of the year
GQ magazine in India gave him that honour in 2011.
19. Time magazine’s influential 100 list
Rahman was included in the 2009 Time 100 list of the World’s Most Influential People.
20. 138 award nominations. 117 won
These include two Academy Awards, the Baftas, Golden Globes and four Indian National Film Awards. He’s also won 15 Filmfare awards and 13 Filmfare Awards South.
21. He started working at age nine
Rahman had to become the breadwinner for the family early in life after his father died. He joined composer Ilaiyaraaja as a keyboard player to earn for his family.
22. He wanted to be a computer engineer
Rahman was fascinated with technology as a young boy. But fate, as they say, had other plans.
23. He loves video games
Rahman says he spends all his free time playing games with his kids, Khatija, Rahima and Ameen.
24. He launched Qyuki with filmmaker Shekhar Kapoor
The platform aims to help kickstart the careers of fresh talent in India.
25. He composed Airtel’s jingle
The ubiquitous tune for the Indian telecom provider was launched in 2009 and has been downloaded almost 150 million times.
Don’t miss it!
AR Rahman performs in Dubai on January 26 at Bollywood Parks Dubai. Tickets, starting at Dh157, are available online.