Chennai: There was wild celebration at A R Rahman’s AM Studios in Kodambakkam, Chennai, when the musician bagged two Oscars—for best original score and best song—a record for any Indian.
A group of 50 people including S Sivakumar, chief sound engineer of Rahman, Sami Durai, artists’ coordinator for Rahman’s albums, other staff of the recording studio and students from Rahman’s school K M Music Conservatory watched the 81st annual Academy Awards in a film screening theatre in A M Studios from 6am on Monday.
“We are very very happy,” said Sivakumar. “We expected at least one Oscar but we are extremely happy that Rahman sir got two.”
The little group, which watched the awards ceremony together, celebrated by cutting a cake immediately after Rahman was pronounced the winner in original score for Slumdog Millionaire as well as for best song for the Jai Ho number in the movie. They also burst crackers and distributed sweets.
As Chennai celebrates Rahman’s double-win, a felicitation ceremony to be organized on 1 March by Cine Musicians Union in Chennai for his Golden Globe award for best movie score for Slumdog Millionaire would now turn into a bigger event.
“We are very proud of him. As soon as he got the award (Oscars), he praised God. I thank God, too.” said Abu Gabriel, general secretary of Cine Musicians Union. “For his hard-work and talent, he definitely deserves this and more.”
The event would see stars like renowned Carnatic vocalist M. Balamuralikrishna, film director K. Balachander, music composer Ilayaraja and singers Shankar Mahadevan, Hariharan and Daler Mehandi.
“We have invited all musicians from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and of course, Tamil Nadu,” Gabriel said.
A die-hard fan of Rahman, Harish Venkatraman, who is pursuing his masters in business administration in media and entertainment, is organizing an event in Besant Nagar beach in Chennai this evening.
“Along with a few friends, I am planning to set up a wishing booth at the beach, where all Rahman fans could write in their wishes and messages to Rahman and we would present this to Rahman personally once he gets back,” says Venkatraman. “We are also planning to have a small procession at the beach and perhaps we’ll sing Jai Ho as we walk along the beach.”
Augustine Paul, who has worked with leading music directors on western chorus works, said: “Rahman is a very good sound engineer by himself. He can beat all the engineers sitting in the room. Even if there is no engineer, he can still finish the recording. He is very fast, is a quick thinker and planner. The good point about him is he hasn’t separated himself from the artistes, doesn’t put on airs and easy to work with.”
“He works on different projects simultaneously and has used the technology to the maximum. He composes from different places at different times but gets the work done at his studio here. If there are any changes to be made, it gets done in two minutes and is okayed, no matter where he is,” Paul added.
G Kannan, who joined as an assistant sound engineer at A M Studios over a year ago, says that in the intial days he used to get quite tense while working with him. “If he gets an idea, it has to be worked upon quick. One has to keep up the pace with him as he works—he is quite fast. But now, I don’t get that tensed.” Sridhar also mentioned that Rahman is “a little strict” when at work but is otherwise “a very casual guy.”
The sound engineers, instrumentalists and other colleagues of Rahman who Mint spoke with were unanimous in saying that Rahman is a “cool guy to work with.” Almost all of them spoke about his humility and said that is one of the characteristics that makes it easy to work with him.
“He is a night bird,” said Murthy. “Rahman brought in a great variety in music. Like, he got in the Arabic style in Tamil songs and his style of blending sounds is beautiful.”
Peters, who appreciates Rahman for giving the instrumentalists a lot of freedom to play, said: “This (Oscars nomination) is well deserved, there is real hard work but the best part is he maintains his level-headedness. He is full of God and music.”