NEW DELHI: Top Bollywood musician A.R. Rahman says he is working to create music that strikes a chord with Western audiences so that Indian film music could one day win an Oscar.
Three of Rahman’s compositions were shortlisted for an Academy award this year, but none of them eventually made it to the finals of the Best Original Song category.
Known for his musical versatility -- from romantic compositions to foot-tapping numbers -- Rahman has innovated with different instruments and sounds to create some of India’s runaway musical hits over the years in Bollywood and outside it.
Rahman shot to fame in 1992 for his soulful music in the patriotic Bollywood hit “Roja” (Rose). His songs are frequently requested on music TV channels and radio stations and played at parties.
Rahman says he derives his inspiration from his father, R.K. Sekhar, who was also a musician. He dedicates his creations to Sekhar, who died when Rahman was nine years old.
You were hopeful that you could win the Oscar but your songs failed to make it into the final five. How do you react to this?
We have to give something which they are accustomed to and then the chances of bagging the award increases. We have to create music which is popular there. We have to understand that the song we create here, the popular song, is alien to the Western audience.
You performed at a very early age.
At that time ... fame was there. At 13 years, people were watching me perform but (real) expressions of my compositions came only when I was doing commercials and (other) stuff when I was 18, 19.
What are your first memories of music?
My father’s harmonium covered with a cloth and, later, my keyboard.
Your father, who was also a musician, has been your inspiration, but you lost him at a very early stage of your life. Do you miss him?
My music is all a part of that (father’s influence). All music that you hear from me has come from all that.
You have created some very good music this year but what kind of music will audiences get to hear from you next year?
I will create very different music in 2007. But let it be a surprise to the listeners.”