Tuesday, February 13, 2007

All About A R RAHMAN

Life History of RAHMAN:

2)musical background
3)Non-Film work
4)play back singing
5)Artistes & inspirations

List of movies done by him

His career achievements year wise:


Rahman Live concert videos

Rahman Site

The year 2002

2002 began with everyone hoping that Rahman would firmly put a dismal 2001 behind him. The first significant event of the year was Rahman receiving a double nomination for Lagaan at the annual Screen Awards. Rahman was nominated for both Best background Score and Best Score categories for 'Lagaan'. In reaction Rahman said, "My effort was to combine classical and folk to create period music. I think what has worked about the music of Lagaan is that all the departments—lyrics, background score and vocals—connected. Everyone gave their best. While composing, the involvement with the script, cast and director makes a lot of difference. And in Lagaan I was involved in every aspect of the film. People like Aamir Khan and director Ashutosh Gowarikar are the kind of people who live a film. You look at the script through their eyes and you know what to do, and what not to do. " Director Pravinkanth took out a huge ad in the newspapers on Rahman's 35th birthday on January and used the opportunity to announce his next film 'Thullal' supposedly with music by Rahman making one seriously question Rahman's wisdom in continuing his association with the director. Some newer reports spoke of Rahman actually doing Nasser's Popcorn which was supposedly based on the life of Illayaraja.

Even as Parthiban put off 'Yelelo' came in the news that Karunanidhi was writing a song with the Pongal festival as its theme for the film. January 11th saw Rahman taking the Zee Cine Awards for Best Composer for 'Lagaan', the first awards of the year. January 12th marked the first release of the year for Rahman, the much awaited Kannathil Muthamittal, his seventh outing with Mani Ratnam. Much was expected from the combination and in keeping with the demands of the film Rahman turned out an appropriate score that went down well with his fans but not so much with the masses at large. Rahman was nominated for the music of Lagaan at the 48th Filmfare Awards on January 17th. In a strange incident the quirky Bal Thackeray announced that he was declaring a ban on synthesisers since it was spoiling Indian culture and music and vented his ire on Rahman describing his music as the sound of washing vessels. On January 18th, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy bagged the Screen Award for their peppy score in Dil Chahta Hai beating Rahman who was nominated for Lagaan.

Several tamil newsmagazines reported that Rahman had signed K.Balachander's next to be directed by his assistant Selva inspite of the debacle of Paarthale Paravasam. The Times of India also reported that Pakistani Sufi singer Abida Parveen was supposed to record a song for 'Saathiya' but was unable to make it to Chennai for the recording because of the prevailing political climate between India and Pakistan. Kamal Hassan also announced plans for his next film with K.S.Ravikumar now titled 'Panchatantram'. There were reports that he was planning to approach Rahman to score for the movie. Outlook magazine published a snippet that the Delhi based health products company Morepen Labs was in the final stages of negotiations with Rahman to compose a 'Health Anthem' for their upcoming ad campaign. Dinmani newspaper reported that Rahman had asked for gists of a few important prose/ poetry from classical tamil literature. Lyricist Ilayakamban had given such a collection to Rahman. Rahman planned to use them in subsequent movies. Rahman dashed to London to be present at the official launch of Bombay Dreams on February 7th. The glittering function was attended by several dignitaries and several encomiums were showered on Rahman. Remarked Webber, " In Rahman I met someone who I believe could carry the torch of musical theatre into a new dimension". IN a question by the BBC on what the he felt the difference was in composing in India and London, Rahman remarked that back in India he got Mom's food while in London he had to live on tinned food. The musical would premiere in London's Apollo Victoria theatre on May 31 and have regular shows from June 19.

Rahman apparently met director S.J.Surya on a flight from Mumbai to Chennai and gave the nod to compose for his next film 'New'. Meanwhile Kamal Hassan put his project with Rahman, Naran, on hold and went ahead with 'Panchatantram' for which he signed Deva. Rahman gave the green signal to the makers of a T.V. serial based on noted Tamil literateur Kalki's epic Ponniyin Selvan. To be produced by a Singapore based company Hebron Image Makers the serial was to be directed by T.V.Raja starring M.N.Nambiar, Vijayakumar and K.R.Vijaya among others. The serial was to be screened on Sun T.V. Vairamuthu is to pen the lyrics. Meanwhile it was also clarified that Kannathil Muthamittal was held up only because of censor issues and not any delay on the part of Rahman. Several critics praised Kannathil Muthamittal's music as reflecting a 'new found maturity' in his music. Rahman's films for Vashu Bhagnani and Ahmed Khan converged with Vashu Bhagnani launching his next production starring Kareena Kapoor, Tusshar Kapoor and Abhishek Bachchan directed by Ahmed Khan. Rahman hit back by bagging his 14th Filmfare Award for 'Lagaan' which he received at a glittering ceremony in Mumbai on February 16th. Women's magazine Femina once again named Rahman in a list of men women like - "The small, humble man for his soul-stirring music and for making us sing ‘Vande Mataram’ again.

On February 12th Lagaan became only the third Indian film to be nominated to the Oscars thus providing Rahman another platform to deliver his music from. Sony made plans to promote the music of the film as well. Says Shreedhar Subramanium, managing director, Sony Music: “Internationally the album is being released as a mainstream album. We’ve modified the product, included the song book and made it multilingual. We’re also tying up with Columbia Tristar and selling the music at the venue, retailing at theatres.” Being a period film, the music has been marketed differently. The background score has also been added to the album. Though the main target is the Indian community, the hype spills over to the international media." Kannathil Muthamittal finally released on February 15th and was unanimously acclaimed as Mani Ratnam's best movie to date. Mani had consciously diluted the importance of the songs in the movie. There was some criticism about Rahman's background music being inadequate. The movie featured a sequence where Amudha, the lead character carries a purse with her that always contains the photograph of Rahman. Producer A.M.Rathnam widely publicised 'Enakku 20 Unakku 18', the Tamil dubbed version of his Telugu film 'Nee Manasu Naaku Telusu'.

After a prolonged wait of three years Rajnikanth finally announced a new film titled 'Baba' scripted by himself. Rahman gave the nod to compose the music of the film. On March 12th Rahman was nominated twice in the Best Music category for 'Zubeidaa' and 'Lagaan' at the 3rd International Indian Film Academy Awards to be held in Malaysia on April 6th. The Arjun starrer 'Ashoka' was revived as 'Chanakya' and the film directed by Shaji Kailas went on the floors again. Rajnikanth's 'Baba' too went on the floors on 24th March in a low profile launch. Sony Music released a new double cassette of Lagaan with the dialogues and a new song Zin Kinak Zin which was not picturised in the film on the same day. 'Lagaan' failed in its quest for an Oscar when it was pipped to the post by Bosnian film 'No Man's Land' but Rahman had his moment under the Hollywood sun when O Re Chhori was played during the listing of nominated films at the awards ceremony. Rahman made a tour of Landmark and Music World stores in Spencer Plaza, Chennai to interact with listeners, in March. In its April 2002 edition, Filmfare magazine wrote about Rahman thus, "A.R.Rahman was his usual humble self. After receiving his award he quietly sat with the Times of India employees in the wings so that the latecomers could get front seats. Rahman tujhe salaam!"

In a resounding testimony of Rahman's growing stature as a global artiste, London based music group the Bollywood Brass Band announced that they were coming out with an album titled, 'Rahmania', a tribute to Rahman containing 16 of Rahman's tracks mixed and played by the band. The album is to release in June. Said Mark Allen, manager of the group "A.R. Rahman is a wonderful composer, and has also led a revolution in production quality using modern digital techniques. Musically he brings in a lot of South Indian vocal and drum styles, but he seems to listen to everything from everywhere, so you could say he is a world music artist". On the 6th of April, Rahman was awarded the IIFA for Best Music for 'Lagaan' at the 3rd International Indian Film Academy Awards in Malaysia. On the 7th The Guardian newspaper of England carried an interview with Andrew Lloyd Webber in which Webber described Rahman as being in the league of Paul McCartney. In keeping with the attention that Bombay Dreams was generating, this was followed up by an article on Rahman in the London tabloid THe News of the World. The article spoke of him having sold more records than Madonna and Britney Spears put together.

For the umpteenth time reports spoke of the long-stalled 'Engineer' being revived. But there appeared no concrete moves on the same. Rajinikanth roped in former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Karunanidhi to write a song for his 'Baba' thus making it the second time Rahman was composing a song penned by the Kalaignar, the first time being in 'Yelelo'. The Bollywood Brass Band's Rahmania released on April 15. On April 25, Rahman appeared at the launch of ImagineAsia, an eight month long festival in London meant to showcase cinema from the Indian sub-continent. Bollywood was showcased at the Selfridges store in London with Rahman music playing in the store throughout the festival. Speaking to the Press Trust of India, Rahman revealed that he had been offered two Hollywood projects by Sony's Columbia Pictures but refused to divulge any more details. Director S.J.Surya confirmed that Rahman would be scoring the music for his forthcoming film 'New' expected to go on the floors in the latter half of the year. Rahman was nominated in the Best Music category for 'Lagaan' at the 3rd Annual Zee Gold Bollywood Awards. Rahman was also invited to be part of the Indian delegation at the prestigious Cannes' Film Featival to be held in late-May. With the impending release of Bombay Dreams, the publicity for the musical was touching a feverish pitch with every mainstream publication and newspaper according extraordinary coverage to the musical. It was supposed to have 70% new compositions and the rest were reworked from Rahman's earlier compositions.

Meanwhile an article in Dhina Bhoomi newspaper spoke of Rahman setting one of A.B.Vajpayee's poems to tune for a compilation album planned by Director Priyadarshan. The music of 'The Legend of Bhagat Singh' released in early May and perhaps for the first time , a composer shared as much space on the inlay card as the lead artiste when Rahman's mug shot got the entire bottom half of the inlay card of the film's CDs and cassettes. A report in the Dinamani newspaper said that Rahman would compose the music for a short film to be made by Director Priyadarshan for this year's Independence Day and would star child artiste Keerthana and the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. A report in the Economic Times on the highest tax payers in the past year from the entertainment industry listed Rahman at No. 27, the highest tax paying composer/musician in the country. Rahman apparently paid taxes to the tune of Rs. 60 lakhs in 2001-2002.

The publicity for Bombay Dreams touched a feverish pitch with Webber managing to get nearly every publication of note to do a feature on Bombay Dreams. The first preview held on May 31 also received a favourable response. 'Shakalaka Baby' which was released as a single also became an instant chartbuster. The British press hailed Rahman as the 'Asia Mozart'. Amidst all these glowing reports came in news that Rajanikanth's baba was getting delayed because of Rahman. The Legend of Bhagat Singh was released on June 7th and Rahman was hailed for his music and background score while the movie itself was described as 'close to a masterpiece'. The songs picked up with the release of the film. Sony Music announced that it had picked up the rights for the Bombay Dreams soundtrack and a forthcoming Instrumental album of Rahman. In an interview to The Hindu veteran Malayalam composer Isaac Thomas Kottukapally revealed that he had a long standing association with Rahman and Rahman's first ever independent music composition was a jingle for an ad film made by Mr. Isaac in Cochin in 1987.

The much awaited musical Bombay Dreams has its soundtrack released on the 17th of June and two days later the show itself was premiered at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in London. Speaking about Rahman the show's producer, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber said "ARR is the best composer I've heard in my lifetime." Lyric writer Don Black said, "Rahman is a genius. It has proved a weird, if uplifting, experience. You can't compare Rahman to any other composer - for a start he is very religious. He sits down and improvises for about an hour and I say 'I love that' and he develops those bits. In a way, I'm a song detective." There are other benefits. Normally when you write with a composer it is hard work. But with Rahman being a spiritual person, it is very much 'it will happen when it happens'. If you are in the middle of a song and it gets difficult he is quite happy to leave it. The other thing is he has a wholly different attitude to deadlines in the creative process from the Western one, which I'm obviously used to. His approach is the song will come when it comes, which is a bit nerve-wracking to start with, but — along with a bit of prompting from me regarding deadlines — it eventually seemed to work."

Director Steve Plimlott says, "Rahman is a melodic genius, and I don't use the word 'genius' very often. In India, people say he's their Mozart, and it's sort of true." The star studded premiere show was attended by Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, his wife Madeliene Webber, socialite Ivana Trump, director Shekhar Kapoor, pop star Bob Geldof, actor Sir Michael Caine, TV personality Sir David Frost, Shahrukh Khan, Juhi Chawla, Naseeruddin Shah, Subhash Ghai from Bollywood, musicians Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawhney, Industrialist Laxmi Mittal, former Miss World Diana Hayden among others and ended with a standing ovation being accorded to Rahman and Webber.The critics, fans and the press were almost unanimous in their praise of Rahman's music in Bombay Dreams. The CD rose to No. 6 on Amazon's sales charts.

Said a fan, "This album encapsulates the essence of Bollywood, from the first sweeping strings to the breath taking dance numbers. I was not a fan of asian music, but this album has certainly made me change my mind. A R Rahman's ground breaking music fuses ethnic indian with western beats. The songs are simply stunning and lyrical. IN a review in Mid-day, South Asian film expert Naman R S wrote, "Rahman can now take his rightful place as one of the greatest living composers on the planet. From tender ballads to rambunctious foot-stompers to a satisfyingly percussive background score, he pulls out all the musical stops and creates a work that showcases his unique talent." The BBC wrote " It was inevitable with any 19 track album to have a mixed bag of hit and miss songs, some were amazing others forgettable, but all in all a remarkable achievement." Times Online opined "it's incredibly catchy, full of soaring ballads and — when the drums stop pounding — gilded with beguiling instrumental colour."

But there were a couple of dissenting opinions as well. The Independent wrote, "A R Rahman has written a few pleasant tunes, but the overall sound is more background than foreground, and a lot of the music is routine "oriental" stuff, the sort of thing one would hear in an old movie." And This is London mag said, "The music by the famous Indian composer, AR Rahman, played by a tiny, 10-strong orchestra, falls blandly between two worlds. Far too often it sounds more western than Indian. The mix is dull. So the chance of hearing a fresh score scarcely materialises."

The show itself received a mixed response with descriptions that ranged from "disappointing" to "refreshing". Reuters summed up the reaction of the British Press as,"British critics gave theatre impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber's latest musical adventure, an extravagant version of Bollywood love story Bombay Dreams, a qualified thumbs up on Thursday after its London premier." The Daily Mail said "Once you enter the spirit, the show, cannily produced by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is a delight.And it brings to a mainstream audience the astounding musical talent of AR Rahman, the 36-year-old "Asian Mozart" from Madras who has sold more records than Madonna and Britney Spears combined." The Daily Express wrote "Great fun, great costumes, and a refreshing change from every other West End show." But the Independent was very critical, " It's a shame that this potentially thrilling subject is crippled by formula and mediocrity. Bombay Dreams may have the right ingredients, but the whole samosa is less than the sum of its parts." Back in India The Hindu said that Bombay Dreams opened to a disappointing response but added, "The only winner, according to critics, is A.R.Rahman's music and even if Bombay Dreams fails to take off, as seems likely, his own popularity would only soar."

On June 29th Rahman appeared at the annual Bollywood Movie Awards in New York to receive the Best Composer Award for 'Lagaan'. Daxco Digital, a leading acoustics firm announced that it had been selected by Rahman to equip a new state-of-the-art studio that he was building in Chennai. To be spread over a area of more than 5000 sq. ft. area Rahman's famed Panchathan Record Inn would move here on completion. Slated to be completed by end-2002 it will house a recording studio as well as a film mix stage . The studios will not only house a full-blown Recording Suite but also a Film Mix Stage where final mix-downs will take place. The Acoustic Design & Architectural plans for the studios were made by Studio 440 , acoustic architects from CA, USA who have designed studios for Interscope/ Universal Music Group , Warner Brothers , Burbank , California and Saban Entertainment , just to name a few. The studio is expected to be one of the best in Asia.

Bombay Dreams, which had a slow start, went on to become a major hit through word-of-mouth publicity and its run was extended by more than year. A relieved Andrew Lloyd Webber announced plans to take Bombay D reams to Broadway in 2003-2004. Bombay Dreams ended up becoming the biggest West End hit of the year. The music of Bombay Dreams was released to wide spread publicity in India in mid-july with Rahman making an appearance at Planet M in Mumbai and Music World in Chennai to release the music. The British press crowned him with the title 'Mozart of the East'. In India too, the Bombay Dreams score turned into a chart-topper, hitting the number one spot for five continuous weeks on MTV India World Chart Express the list includes top albums from the US and Australia. And Sony Music, which had the rights to the music, said it had a hit on its hands and had already sold 150,000 copies despite the fact that it was priced at a premium like other international numbers and was in English. Webber summed up, "In Rahman, I met someone who I believe could carry the torch of musical theatre into a new dimension."

Recounting his experience of working with Rahman on Bombay Dreams, lyricist Don Black said, "Rahman is a genius, but as he comes from such a different culture, working with him took a bit of time getting used to! You'd be chatting about a song, and suddenly he's get up and leave the room. Before I got to know him well I thought, 'Has he gone to the loo? Is it something I said?' but what he actually does is just get up, go out, and pray. He's a very spiritual man. he has a wholly different attitude to deadlines in the creative process from the Western one, which I'm obviously used to. His approach is the song will come when it comes, which is a bit nerve-wracking to start with, but along with a bit of prompting from me regarding deadlines it eventually seemed to work."

July 27th marked a momentous day in the history of contemporary Indian music. It was ten years to the day that the music of Roja was released. In the 10 years that followed this occasion Rahman had brought about a sea change in Indian music and taken it international. And it was only rhe beginning. The icing of the cake was the announcement of the award of the National Film Awards for the year with Rahman bagging the Best Composer award for Lagaan, this being his third national award, a feat unmatched by any of his contemporaries. The much awaited music of Baba released in early August to a tepid response. The music did not have the mark of Rahman in it and was greeted by disappointment by both Rahman and Rajni fans. The music was widely proclaimed to be the worst of the Rahman-Rajni partnerships. With the movie also flopping, Baba added to Rahman's recent streaks of flops in Tamil cinema. Rahman signed debutant director Ranjith's 'Swami' which was the Tamil version of the bilingual film titled 'Nandanam' in Malayalam. Rahman also signed director S.J.Suryah's 'New'. The movie was launched at a gala ceremony on August 15th with Rahman being prominently featured in all the publicity material. 'New' was to be remade in Telugu with Mahesh Babu as 'Naani'. In an interview to Gulf News Rahman said that he was exploring the possibility of a concert in Dubai in 2003. August 15th marked the 1oth anniversary of the release of Roja, a day that heralded a metamorphosis of Indian film music. Rahman announced plans for a concert tour of the USA and Canada in early 2003.

In its edition dated August 18th, India's leading business magazine, Business Today carried feature on India's most Global corporate brands. one of which was Rahman. 16% of all people surveyed across the globe said that they had heard of Rahman. "The numbers tell the story of Alla Rakha Rahman's standing in India: 107 million albums sold. International recognition has been nudging him for some time. With Andrew Lloyd Webber's Bombay Dreams, though, Rahman may have arrived. Miramax is taking the show to New York, and the buzz in Chennai (Rahman's base) is that he has signed on for a couple of Broadway musicals. The man himself is busy working on one of the five films he does every year", wrote the magazine.

On August 16, it was announced that India's leading telecom services company Bharti Teleservices had signed up Rahman as Brand Ambassador for its wireless service Airtel. The news was significant as it market the return of Rahman to where he started his career - advertisements. Rahman would not only compose the jingle for a series of ads, he would actually star in the ads promoting the Airtel brand. In addition Rahman would also compose five exclusive ringtones for Airtel customers. Of the five ring tones, two will be from the ad film itself, for which Rahman has composed the music, another two will be youth oriented while the third one will be akin to a lullaby. "We will spend Rs 100 crore as part of our marketing initiative on AirTel brand in the fiscal 2002-03 and are planning to involve Rahman in our corporate campaign for 'Bharti' as a mother brand," Bharti Enterprises joint managing director Ranjan Bharti Mittal said.

He said the new brand campaign delivered AirTel's new positioning 'Live Every Moment' in a simple yet real fashion. On association of the renowned music composer with the brand, Mittal said the new AirTel TV campaign celebrates a person's inherent need to communicate simultaneously and grab that moment to live it completely. "Rahman reinforces the leader-innovator and Indian cum international dimensions of AirTel," he said. This marked a new career move for Rahman. Rahman was reportedly paid a whopping Rs. 20 million, according to industry sources. This was the first time that Rahman has associated himself with any brand anywhere in the world although he had endorsed Filmfare in a print campaign earlier.

Said Rahman, "Just like AirTel, the concept of bridging emotions, distances and cultures is a concept that I often try to reflect through my music as well. I am pleased to feature in the AirTel ad campaign. In fact, I began my career by doing ad jingles so its like going back to my roots. The adfilm is directed by my friend Rajiv Menon and is shot both in Chennai and London. Let’s hope people like this commercial, God willing. However, I am not sure whether I will endorse other brands in the future." "The Airtel ad actually was a true account of what once happened while I was recording I chanced upon a tune and had it played back to my studio on the mobile. So when Bharti approached me with the creative I was quite surprised. I was apprehensive about how I would look before the camera, but I think the reactions and response show that I haven’t been too bad after all."

The ad directed by long time Rahman friend and reknowned ad-film maker and director Rajeev Menon for ad agency Rediffusion debuted on August 30th across major Television channels and became an instant success. The ad featured Rahman arriving at the airport to see a sobbing child. Rahman pulls out his harmonica and composes a tune to placate the child. He calls up his studio over the Airtel mobile phone and plays the tune for them to record. Enroute to a concert performance Rahman ropes in assorted musicians from the street and records the complete song over the mobile phone and makes it just in time for the concert. The jingle was a major hit and was heard ringing from every mobile phone in town for several weeks. If the figures are to be believed, the ad had a sledgehammer-like impact. The company’s brand tracking research shows that top of the mind recall for the Airtel brand has gone up from 73 per cent of customers interviewed to 78 per cent.

On 17th September Mani Ratnam and the producers of Roja announced that Roja would be relaunched for an international release. Rahman appeared at the press conference. An article in Ananda Vikatan spoke of Rahman composing for director Bharatiraaja's new venture, 'Kangalal Kaidhu Sei'. Rumours that Subhash Ghai was wooing Rahman to compose for his next directorial venture were floating around in the press. Rahman recorded a song for Ahmed Khan's directorial venture with girl band Viva. The Arjun starrer Chanakya was renamed yet again, as 'Parasuram'. Rahman released the debut title of Mandolin Srinivas' brother Anil Srinivasan, 'Into the Light'. Reports spoke of Rahman having broken away from the traditional one-time payment system of Indian music composers to a royalty based fee system.

Business Standard, a leading Indian business newspaper carried an article on Rahman going international. The article spoke of Bombay Dreams' success and Rahman being the only bankable star in the film industry. Amit Khanna, chairman, Reliance Entertainment and also a lyric writer: "He’s not imitative, he spaces himself out unlike other directors who sign up whatever they can get and are looking at quantity rather than quality. As a result, in 60 per cent to 70 per cent of the cases he delivers." Harish Dayani, executive director of Saregama HMV, which released Sapney: "He is the most bankable star of all and I wouldn’t hesitate to pay a premium of as much as 50 per cent to him compared to other music directors."The article sang glowing praises of Rahman. "The music maestro has also cleverly marketed himself as a recognisable brand. Rahman has also played his financial cards with reasonable skill. He is one music director who prefers to be paid royalty rather than a one-off lumpsum amount.Rahman’s popularity is undoubtedly incredible especially at a time when the music market is facing hard times. "

Rahman was repeatedly asked in numerous interviews if he was quitting the Indian film industry and moving to London, following the success of Bombay Dreams. Rahman said that he had turned down offers to compose for five new musicals. He said that making music for the Indian film industry continues to be his passion. "These are the songs that made me important. I will never leave the industry for better opportunities". In 10 years Rahman had made a successful transformation from a shy studio composer to a suave and savvy public figure. In an interview Rahman remarked, Making music today, believes Rahman, is now more challenging. "I think there is more pressure now, the audience taste is much more elevated and they are more demanding. But it's good for us. They are much more open to new things. I am scared of meeting people, because I can't say no to them. I usually end up saying yes even when I want to refuse."

The music of the delayed Kadhal Virus was finally released on October 12. The music was released by Sony Music which was venturing into regional music for the first time. The music saw some amazing new compositions from Rahman and met with a good response. The Amir Khusro Sangeet Academy conferred the title of 'Sangeet Nawaz' on Rahman and received the award from Ustad Bismillah Khan, the shehnai exponent at a ceremony in Chennai. Rahman signed Shyam Benegal's ambitious bio-pic on Subhash Chandra Bose, 'Netaji - The Last Hero' which was to be a international project.. On October 21, Rahman recorded the first song for Subhash Ghai's new venture and the film was formally announced on October 24. The film would be launched on December 24th. Rahman released 'Ashtaruchi' an album of Carnatic classical music produced by Bharat Kalachar.

On October 25th, Airtel released the five exclusive ringtones composed by Rahman. The five ringtones were ‘Dream’ - the ability to dream, the confidence to achieve; ‘Desire’ - the passion & spontaneity of the moment; ‘Buddy’ - the spirit of friendship; ‘Sizzle’ - the togetherness of fun & frolic; ‘Little One’ - the joy of the moment with your child. With the release of these ringtones Airtel's network was jammed for hours with customer's rushing to download them. In an interview to India Today, Shekhar Kapur revealed that Rahman would score the music for his next film 'Pani' a story on water wars in India in future. The music of 'Saathiya' the remake of Alai Payuthey was released on October 29th. 7 songs were reused from the original while two songs were new compositions. On October 31, Queen Elizabeth II graced a special Red Cross charity show of Bombay Dreams and commended Rahman. On November 3rd it was reported that Rahman could possibly perform at an international conference for NRIs to be organised by the Government of India on January 9, 2003.

His forthcoming films include 'New', 'Ashoka/Chanakya/Parasuram', 'Engineer', 'Mudhal Mudhalaaga' , 'Udaya', 'Theekul Viralai Vaithal', 'Prashanth', 'Yelelo' , 'Robot', 'Boys', '9-30 to 10-00', 'Thullal', 'Swami', 'Kangalal Kaidhu Sei' and Selva's untitled next in Tamil and 'Rashq', 'Ittefaq', 'Waqia', 'Neecha Aasmaan', 'Do Kadam Chal Ke Dekho', 'Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha', Ada', 'Ganga', 'Tehzeeb' , 'Awaaz/Samjhauta Express', 'Netaji The Last Hero', Shekhar Kapoor's 'Pani' and Subhash Ghai, Ahmed Khan, Javed Jaffrey's untitled ventures in Hindi, A.M.Rathnam's 'Nee Manasu Naaku Telusu' in Telugu and Priyadarshan's 'Kancheepuram' in Malayalam, and 'Taj Mahal-The Great Indian Experience', 'The Rising', 'The Return of the Thief of Baghdad', 'The Last Revolutionary' and 'Water' in English and the non-film 'Ekam Satyam', 'Listen'. Besides this he also has the serial 'Ponniyin Selvan' and Instrumental album of his hits for Sony. He is also,reportedly, currently working on his next non-film project, where he is tuning the poems of the famous Tamil poet and freedom fighter Subramania Bharati alias 'Bharatiyar'. His future plans include a private album with singer Asha Bhonsle.

The year 2001

2001's first music release was a Rahman score. The much awaited soundtrack of One 2 Ka 4 released on 3rd January. With the trailor breaking on TV in the first week it appeared that Love You Hamesha would finally see the light of the day. Rahman also signed three new films, one in Tamil, S.A.Rajkannu's 'Prashanth' and two films in Hindi, one for choreographer turned director Ahmed Khan and one for producer Vashu Bhagnani. The film by Vashu Bhagnani was meant to be a remake of the Tamil film 'Minnale'. Following this he also signed his fourth film for intimate friend and director Kadhir titled, 'Kadhal Virus'. On January 12th he personally received his sixth Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Composer for the film 'Sangamam' from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi. He also grew his hair back to his Vandemataram look. To add to the ever growing list, he also gave his nod to Priyadarshan's international venture in English on the life on freedom fighter Chandrasekhar Azad titled 'The Last Revolutionary'. The stories and newsreports regarding his performance with Jennifer Lopez at the finals of the Sahara Millenium Football Cup in Calcutta on January 25th multiplied though there was no official word from any quarters. Rahman appeared at a ceremony in Hyderabad where the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Nara Chandrababu Naidu honoured the team behind Mudhalvan on the mega-success of its Telugu version 'Oke Okkadu'. Late January saw the release of the music of Love You Hamesha finally. Love You Hamesha was panned by the critics. As January 25th passed, it turned out that the much talked about performance with Jennifer Lopez at the football tournament were totally unfounded.

Rahman made a suprise appearance at the launch of producer K.T.Kunjumon's 'Swasam'. What set the tongues wagging was Rahman's appearance inspite of the fact that he was not scoring the music for the film. The same day Rahman also appeared at the launch of Kadhir's 'Kadhal Virus' were Maniratnam and Bharatiraaja were present. In February Rahman composed the theme track and background music for a special short film on the Indian Navy to coincide with the International Fleet Review that was held in Mumbai from February 17th for a week. The filmwas titled 'Jaya He' and was directed by Bharatbala and Kanika with Amitabh Bachchan doing the voice over. The event was held in India for the first time. This intended to build bridges of friendship across the oceans and bring men-of-war together in a gesture of peace. The major countries that participated included United States, United Kingdom, Russia, France, Japan, Australia and South Africa featuring 25 foreign ships from as many as 19 foreign countries. The gossip rags put out another story about how Rahman kept Aamir Khan's wife and executive producer of Lagaan, Reena Khan, waiting at his residence when she had gone there to give him his remuneration for the film. The stories spoke about how she waited for an entire day and therefore missed her flight back to Mumbai.

Rahman, extended his support to the composer of yesteryears, Naushad in the setting up of a school for music titled 'Naushad Academy of Hindustani Sangeet'. Sony Music released another recording of the Dubai concert in a bid to cash in on the public's expectancy of the release of the US concerts. Meanwhile there was talk that Rahman would perform in a concert in March in Delhi , organised by former US President Bill Clinton to raise money for the victims of the devastating Gujarat earthquake. After it changed hands from Sushilkumar Agrawal, HMV released the music of the Hindi version of Muthu, 'Muthu Maharaja' in early March. Rahman was spending a lot of time in this period in London on Bombay Dreams. Around 50% of the work was completed. In an interview, when he was asked what he felt about his own growth as a composer since the Roja days, he replied 'Roja was an effort to do music that crosses mainstream yet be alternative-and not remain just film music. My effort primarily has been to give more and more to the film industry as this is the only form of recreation for millions in this country.' Countering ceaseless and baseless criticism on he being repetitive and gizmo-oriented, he said 'There was a repetitive phase four or five years ago, but I think I've got over that. In those days, many directors associated me with Prabhudeva, and wanted me to only do dance songs. But when you do dance music, you tend to use the same beat. That wasn't what I consciously wanted to do. So I began incorporating other sounds. In Taal and Thakshak, I used north Indian influences, unlike my earlier films, where my music was south-oriented. Today, my music is more rounded, more balanced. To satisfy the director, I create three or four variations of each song. Then we all decide which tune will work best, and thus avoid repetition. Each film requires a different attitude, and the use of technology depends on the film's subject. In today's times, technology is an extra attribute. It makes things easier. But I don't depend solely on technology. About 90 per cent of Zubeidaa has been recorded with acoustic instruments.'

The barrage of allegations continued when website tehelka.com, known for its sensationalisation of news carried an article that accused Rahman of growing too big for his boots and spoke of the Tamil film industry turning its back on him. Among the many things that the article related was that directors like Bharatiraaja, Mani Ratnam and Rajeev Menon had given up on him and that Kamal Hassan was trying to force him out of Shankar's 'Robot'. It also alleged that Rahman had refused Rajnikanth's next and had insulted him resulting in the superstar being furious with him. According to the piece, both Rajnikanth and Kamal Hassan were under the impression that Rahman's accusation that someone big in the industry had tried to sabotage his US concerts was directed at them. In mid-March The Hindu reported that Rahman had signed actor-dancer Javed Jaffrey's directorial debut that would be co-directed by Sangeeth Sivan with whom Rahman had earlier worked on 'Yoddha'.

In one of his best interviews ever, Rahman spoke in depth about various issues to the magazine AV Max. Revealing his outlook to compising he remarked 'I believe that only when you have fun can other people have fun too. If you feel tortured, people listening to you will also feel tortured. So I make it as less torturous for people as I can. Describing his mental state before he singed 'Roja' he said, "During 'Roja', I couldn't foresee what was to come, in that sense it is very special. Before I signed 'Roja', I was very satisfied with what I had. I had producers asking me to compose for commercials and whatever ambitions I had had long been subjugated. Just before 'Roja' happened to me, I went into a state of spiritual vacuum, and temporal ambitions took a secondary place. In such a state, every moment was surprise. I tended to take what came as it came rather than hope and foresee too many things and have too many ambitions. Yeah, the success of 'Roja' surprised all of us, but I tended, and still tend to look at it philosophically. I think it worked out better this way because it is no use having too many ambitions and getting frustrated in the process." Commenting on public opinion he said, "It can be a little confusing at times. It is an odd fact of my career that whenever the music of a film I have composed for is released, the first reaction is one of non-acceptance. The reaction is that Rahman is burnt out, he is getting repetitive, he has no future. Four months down the line, after the film releases, the same people say that the music is very good. When I tried and worked on a new sound, and I felt that at least now they would stop saying I was repetitive. But they complained that the musc was too radical. Give them something that they can predict and they don't like it. Give them something completely new and they don't like that either." On criticism he opined, "Initially, it used to hurt, but then I tried to analyse that they were trying to say. One criticism is that all my tunes sound alike. Now that is not true, but it could be the use of certain instruments. I used the pan flute in a couple of songs and since they sounded alike, it is assumed that the tune was being repeated. So I switched to a bamboo flute for some time. I have switched back to a pan flute it takes time for people to realise that it is not the tunes but the instruments that are being repeated and how the instruments are used is a signature style of the composer, it takes time to establish that it is the feel of the instruments that is the same and not the tune."

On the much spoken of 'Rahman sound' he conceded that there was such a thing 'It is like a personal signature. Take Mohammed Rafi, for example. He might sing in different raga, but no matter what he sings, you know that this is a Rafi song. It is also like a RD Burman track. No matter what he composes, you know this is a RD Burman composition by the way it sounds, by the way the instruments are arranged, and by the way the song flows. It is possible that every musical composition is imbued with a bit of the personality of the composer. When I compose, I am not conscious of a particular style, but yes, people do say that there is something called a Rahman sound." Speaking about his inspiration he stated, "Personally, I would say that a sense of spirituality helps a great deal. And it is important that you study life as well. Both these things will make a better human being, and therefore, a better composer out of you. Life teaches you what real pain and happiness are, and these things help in creating better compositions. It works like this: if the film demands happy music the composer only has to tap into the wellspring of happy experiences from his own life to create the right ambience for that tune. I think this is more improtant than learning all the technical gymnastics of music." Explaining his reasons for staying away from the limelight, he stated "I always wanted my music to be famous, not me. But I accept that people relate the music to the person. I have tried to stay away from becoming a commodity. I have tried to stay away from becoming a face on a soft drink commercial or something like that, and it has worked fine so far. The advantage with this is that the day these people drop me, nobody will get the impression that I am over and done with, musically."

On March 23 Rahman won his 13th Filmfare Award for his music in the film Alai Payuthey at the south Filmfare Awards. Sony Music unleashed the pre-release publicity for the music of Lagaan revealing that it would be released on April 6th. The anticipation of the music heightened among the public. After a long series of collaboration in Bharatbala's 'India Pride' series like Vandemataram, Desh Ka Salaam, Jana Gana Mana and Jaya He, Rahman teamed up with him once again to score the background music for a short film called 'India on IMAX'. The film directed by Bharatbala was shot in IMAX and was meant to showcase the diversity of India using the power of the IMAX technology. The short film was screened for the first time at the inauguration of India's first IMAX theatre, set up in Mumbai by the Adlabs group, on the 25th of March. The film would later be screened at IMAX theatres across the world. Rahman was also present at the launch of this IMAX theatre. After opting out of his first film 'Gaja Gamini', Rahman agreed to compose for reknowned painter M.F.Hussain's second film 'Do Kadam Chal Ke Dekho'. The movie 'Kaante' was officially launched and the movie was a multi-composer filmwhich would involve other composers like Viju Shah, Lucky Ali, Adnan Sami and Salim and Suleiman Merchant. Rahman was no longer involved in the movie.

On March 31 Rahman participated in a charity music show in Chennai titled 'Netru Indru Naalai' to raise funds for the organisation 'The Banyan' involved in caring for disabled children. The concert which was centered around children had Rahman conducting the music for two songs, 'Achcham Illai' from Indira and 'Chanda Suraj' from Vandemataram. He later made a public donation for the organisation. It was speculated that Rahman would score the music for Kamalhassan's next film 'Pammal Sambandham'. But it turned out that Deva was doing the music. He lost the national award to Anu Malik's Refugee for which he was in contention with scores like Kandukondain Kandukondain, Alai Payuthey and Zubeidaa. The Times of India caused a furore by reporting that Shankar had replaced Rahman with Harris Jeyaraj in Robot. But it turned out that it was false news. There was also news that Shankar was launching another movie titled 'Power' starring Aishwarya Rai, Lara Dutta and Prashanth. But there was no confirmation if Rahman would score the music for the film.

Bharatbala revealed more information on India's first IMAX film, Taj Mahal. The film would be released in August 2002 and would be exhibited all over the world. To be produced by Scott Swofford of Vineyard Productions the film received financing from India Lotus Inc, a consortium of Indian tech enterpreneurs like Kanwal Rekhi, K B Chandrasekhar, B V Jagdeesh and Gururaj Deshpande, and the IMAX Corporation. Rahman seemed to be on an uncharacteristic signing spree and the latest film in his kitty was 'Dil Ne Jise Apna Kaha' starring Salman Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Sohail Khan and directed by debutant director Atul Agnihotri. Rahman, participated in a special feature in the Tamil children's magazine Chutti Vikatan wherein he replied to queries from children. A special show on the music of 'Lagaan' was aired on DD Metro on April 1 and had everyone in raptures about the music. 'Lagaan' which was scheduled to be released on April 6 was premiered on Doordarshan on April 1 and was actually available in overseas markets on April 3. The score was also released on the internet before the official release. Thye music was outstanding and was fully in consonance with the period and story of the film. The soundtrack sold out within hours of release. Rahman appeared at the soundtrack release in Planet M, New Delhi to promote the soundtrack of Lagaan. Rahman also put in appearances at Planet M in Mumbai to promote the music of Lagaan. On April 8 he recieved his 13th Filmfare Award, for 'Alai Payuthey' at the Filmfare Awards ceremony in Hyderabad. He accepted an offer to compose for actor-director Parthiban's film 'Yelelo'.

On April 14th Rahman was present at the launch of 'Yelelo' along with stalwarts like Mani Ratnam, Shankar and Kamal Hassan. At the ceremony Rahman revealed that he had accepted the film because of its rural subject and would try to blend Irish folk music with Tamil folk music in the film. Sudha Raghunathan, the acclaimed Carnatic classical singer rendered the title song of the movie at the launch function. He won over another serious filmmaker when veteran director M.S.Sathyu signed him up for his next film, 'Neecha Aasmaan'. On April 30, Rahman was awarded the Awadh Samman, a honour conferred on outstanding artistes by the Government of Uttar Pradesh. Rahman received the same from Vishnu Hari Shastri, the Governor of Uttar Pradesh. Speaking to a newspaper, Andrew Llyod Webber commented on the upcoming 'Bombay Dreams' thus, "I haven't heard a musical in the last 20 years which has got such good tunes. Rahman is fantastic. His music is so beautiful, and I believe what he is writing is so far ahead of the game that we could be talking about the future of musicals for a very long time. I really look on Rahman as someone I can pass the mantle on to." The M.S.Sathyu film was titled 'Neechcha Aasmaan'. The pre-release promotions for Lagaan spoke of Rahman visiting Bhuj thrice with all his accompaniments to get the right feel for the score.

The music of 'Star' released in May. There were five songs, one original, one resued from Earth and three reused from 'Thakshak'. The album was way below the mark. All the songs dubbed from the Hindi originals were infintely better in their inital avatar. The new song was no great shakes either. Coming a full 7 months after his last Tamil release , 'Tenali', 'Star' did precious little to regain the ground Rahman had lost to composers like Harris Jayaraj(Minnale) and Karthik Raja(Dumm Dumm Dumm) in 2001. Some new films for Rahman were producer Tahir Hussain's 'Ada' in Hindi. Kamal Hassan revealed in Filmfare in June that Rahman had been signed to do the music of his forthcoming film to be directed by K.S.Ravikumar, post-Pammal Sambandham. Rahman also gave the nod to Mani Ratnam's next, their seventh together, tentatively titled 'Kannathil Muthammittal'. In an interview to Minnambalam ezine Illaiyaraja clarified about a controversy that erupted three years ago in 1998 regarding a ring. In a musical function arranged to felicitate musical greats Illayaraja and M S Vishwanathan, a ring was presented to each of them. A R Rahman had presented the rings and put them on their fingers. Raja immediately removed the ring and presented it back to Rahman. Explaining what had transpired that day, Raja clarified that he does not wear gold ornaments and also disliked jewellery. When the ring was put on his finger he was caught unawares. The first thing that he did was put it back on Rahman's finger. He had refused rings even from MGR on stage once. The press had blown it out of proportion and written negatively about his relation with Rahman. He didn't do it to insult anyone, he explained. In June, noted cricket expert Harsha Bhogle revealed when writing in The Week magazine that the New Zealand born coach of the Indian cricket team, John Wright, had along with the Star Sports channel, used videos set to the music of Rahman's Maa Tujhe Salaam to motivate the Indian cricket team during a tough series against Australia earlier in the year.

Co-inciding with the summit between Indian Prime Mnister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Parvez Musharaff, there were reports that Rahman would perform in two concerts in Pakistan later in the year as a part of the effort to increase the people-to-people contact between the two countries. On July 5th the music of 'Nayak'was released to a characteristically disappointed response. Five of the songs were carried over from the original, Mudhalvan while there were two new songs which sounded like a half-hearted effort from Rahman. Rahman made a donation of Rs. 5 lakhs for earthquake relief in Gujarat. Rahman was awarded the Best Music Director Award for his work in 2000 by Film Today, a Tamil film magazine. Rahman accepted Producer K Prabhakaran's Ashoka starring Arjun and directed by Shaji Kailas. Rahman had early done a movie called Love Story for the same producer but that movie never saw the light of the day. The Rahman composition Bombay Theme was used in ad for a Mineral water in France starring the famous French footballer Zenadine Zidane. Erstwhile Rahman flunkey Harris Jayaraj's second release Majnu, wholly reminiscent of his first Minnale took the charts by storm.

Rahman's almost year long absence from the Tamil scene save for the reused 'Star' which bombed, was taking a toll on his stature in the Tamil film industry. Rahman was likely to score the music for Rajnikanth's forthcoming film. Rahman received a double nomination in the Zee Gold Bollywood Music Awards scheduled to be held in New York on the 10th of November. He was nominated for 'Zubeidaa' and 'Lagaan'. Rahman's 'Bombay Theme' was featured in two other international albums, 'Paradisiac' and 'Flying Carpet'. Further 'Kehna Hi Kya' was included in the music curriculum in Ontario in Canada. On August 15th 2001, Rahman completed 9 years in the Indian Film Industry. Director Rakesh Mehra stated that Rahman was doing the music for his next film 'Samjhauta Express', earlier titled 'Awaaz'. In an interview to MTV, Rahman revealed that he was working on Tanveer Ahmed's 'Ada', Shyam Benegal's next 'Ganga' and Khalid Mohammed's "Tehzeeb' starring Shabana Azmi and Tabu.

On August 25th, Rahman was felicitated by the Al-Ameen Foundation in Bangalore and was awarded the Al-Ameen Community Award. Shaad Ali, assistant to Mani Ratnam sounded out Rahman to work on his Hindi remake of Alai Payuthey which was being produced by Yash Chopra. For the Tanveer Ahmed film, Ada, produced by Jhamu Sughand and starring Dilip Kumar and Amitabh Bachchan, Rahman completed recording six songs. Rahman was nominated twice, for Lagaan and Zubeidaa, at the International Bollywood Music Awards to be held in New York on Novermber 10th. In early October, Malaysian information minister Khalil Yaakob, who was on a visit to India to study the Indian film industry led a delegation on a vist of Rahman's hi-tech Panchathan Record Inn as well. Rahman came in for another round of severe criticism for his slow pace of work. It was more than a year since he had had an original release in Tamil. Films like 'Udhaya', 'Alli Arjuna' and 'Paarthale Paravasam' were said to be delayed because of his failure to record the songs on time. In October Rahman gave the nod to Tamil actor Nasser's directorial venture, 'Dheem Tharakita Thom', starring Mohanlal in the lead.

Going back to one of the very first languages he worked in, Rahman agreed to compose for director Priyadarshan's dream project on the weavers of Kancheepuram to be made in Malayalam on a shoestring budget. An American company called Mondo released an album of Rahman's Hindi and Tamil songs along with one song each of R D Burman and Vishal, called Mondo India to promote his music in the western world and it drew rave reviews wherein Rahman was described as "possibly the greatest of the modern filmi composers, and a man who can seamlessly marry Indian and Western melodies, instruments, and techniques in a way no one has managed before. He is to the Bollywood scene what Ennio Morricone or Nino Rota have been to European cinema: people who transcend the idea of score and soundtrack to bring forth pieces like "Dheeme Dheeme" that can stand alone as pieces of music." The music of Paarthale Paravasam which was due to be released in late October was delayed amidst reports of several music labels fighting over the rights to the soundtrack. 'Bombay Theme' was featured in yet another International compilation 'Cafe Del Mar Vol 5 ' in what was the fifth occasion after 'Anokha', 'Chakra', Paradisiac' and 'Flying Carpet'.

The Bombay Theme was featured in yet another French compilation titled 'Fly' and was also used in the ad for a French brand of mineral water titled 'Volvic' featuring footballer Zinedine Zidane. Paarthale Paravasam finally released amidst a mjor controversy over the rights between HMV, Challenge Music and Hit Music. K. Balachander sold the rights of Paarthale Paravasam to both Challenge Music, a Pondicherry based company and HMV. When HMV learnt of it they questioned KB who offered to buy back the rights from Challenge music. Challenge Music, for whom Paarthale Paravasam was the first major release, refused and went ahead with the production of the cassettes. HMV went to court and obtained a stay order from the Madras High Court restraining Challenge Music from producing or selling cassettes of Paarthale Paravasam. Defying the stay order, Challenge Music wente ahead and distributed the cassettes saying that it had already manufactured 3.5 lakh cassettes and would be ruined if it was not allowed to sell them. Armed with the stay order HMV organised police raids to seize cassettes released by Challenge Music. Finally the music released on all the labels though HMV's was claimed to be the genuine one. The music was very experimental and unlike Rahman and received a overwhelmingly positive response from fans but was received very badly by listeners by and large. K.Balachander and Rahman-The Duet duo-failed to love up to the massive expectations and both music and film met a sorry fate.

Rahman gave the nod to a new film, 'Naran' starring Kamal Haasan and Amitabh Bachchan to be directed by K S Ravikumar which said to be man and beast story. While the movie was a Tamil-Hindi bilingual Rahman suggested that the movie be made in Hindi as well. Rahman was also signed up for the Hindi remake of Alai Payuthey , 'Saathiya' to be directed by Shaad Ali, Mani Ratnam's assistant. The film would feature music from Alai Payuthey along with new compositions. Rahman took up a Telugu assignment after nearly 7 years when he accepted producer A.M.Rathnam's film that was launching his son Jyothi Krishna as director. In an interview to the Tamil magazine Anandha Vikatan cricketing legend Sachin Tendulkar revealed that he was a great fan of Rahman's music. At a delayed ceremony, Rahman was awarded the prestigious V Shantaram Award for Best Composer for 'Taal'. There were reports that Rahman had opted out of Nasser's 'Dheem Tharakita Thom' which was retitled 'Popcorn' with Yuvan Shankar Raja as composer. Even Parthiban who launched 'Yelelo' with much fanfare seemed to have abandoned the project and moved on to other things.

Mani Ratnam held a press conference to announce the completion of 'Kannathil Muthamittal' with the music expected to be released in late December. Director Vasanth said in an interview to The Hindu that he was working on making a 'different' love story titled '9-30 to 10-00' that would have music by Rahman. Shankar too put his mega-project 'Robot' on the backburner and commenced work on a small budget movie called 'Boys' with Rahman's music. There was no word yet on Rajinikanth's next movie. Rahman meanwhile started work on Raj Kumar Santoshi's ambitious 'The Legend of Bhagat Singh'. The song that he recorded was described by the producer Kumar Taurani of TIPS Films as "It is a unique song which, besides giving the periodic feel, has a fresh feel about it." The newspaper Dinmani reported that a 9-th standard schoolgirl called Vidya had sung for Rahman in 'Kannathil Muthamittal'. Rahman had chosen the girl from his alma mater Padma Sheshadri Bala Bhavan. Sify.com carried a story that Paarthale Paravasam had flopped because of the delay in the release of the music and added that record companies were demanding that Rahman scores be released atleast 45 days prior to the release of the movie and TIPS was sore about Rahman not delivering the music of Kannathil Muthamittal on time.

Meera Syal, the writer who was writing the script for 'Bombay Dreams' said in an interview to Savvy Magazine that it was Rahman's involvement that finally made her accept and that his music was fabulous and as a person he was intense yet unassuming. Rahman's sister Rehana, in an interview to Kungumam magazine spoke in depth about her relationship with him, 'He's a born genius', we kept fighting with each other while we were kids, the whole family lives for Rahman by doing everything we can to support him, Rahman is also interested in photography but doesnt get adequate time to explore it further." The music of Alli Arjuna finally released on 19 December. The music was a rehash of songs from multiple movies , '1947', 'Pukar' and 'One 2 Ka 4' and took Rahman to a new low. Meanwhile the music if Kannathil Muthamittal and its Telugu avatar 'Amrutha' was eagerly awaited. Participating in a seminar organised by the Indian Performing Rights Society in Chennai on December 22, Rahman spoke about the importance of valuing Intellectual Property Rights and was also felicitated by the IPRS on the occasion. Rahman received his felicitation from Naushad.

2001 was every bit unlike what we have seen from Rahman thus far. He had just one original release in Tamil, Paarthale Paravasam which was a massive non-success. His other two releases Star and Alli Arjuna were irresponsible rehashes of his earlier work. Coupled with the massive success of other composers like Harris Jeyraj, Karthik Raja and Yuvan Shankar , Rahman's stock in the Tamil industry probably touched its lowest level ever. People were questioning his commitment to the Tamil industry. His forays in Bollywood were not particularly memorable either. Though no one can accuse him of being lackadaisical in his score for One 2 Ka 4 , which was probably the best conventional Bollywood score from Rahman so far, the fact that the movie was terrible took the music down with it, calling into question Rahman's choice of films and filmmakers. His score in Nayak, partly reused from Mudhalvan, was also torn to shreds. Zubeidaa, the music of which released in 2001, received much critical acclaim but did not attract attention independent of the film itself which was aimed at a niche audience. The saving grace for Rahman in an abysmal 2001 was Lagaan. A film with massive expectations and lot of hype that could have proved counter-productive. But Rahman delivered. And the music became a massive hit. But the appeal of the music was largely in context of the film itself. By way of awards Rahman picked up the usual bunch of Filmfare and assorted other awards. But without question 2001 was the most subdued and lacklustre year in Rahman's 10 year long career, making one hope that all the attention Rahman was paying towards Bombay Dreams would pay off in the subsequent year.

The year 2000

The new millenium, that is the year 2000, began with the release of the video of the 'Vandemataram' song 'Masoom' featuring Rahman. The video was telecast by India's National Television Network, Doordarshan at the stroke of midnight between 31st December 1999 and 1st January 2000. At the Millenium Concert held in Cairo, Egypt with the pyramids as a background, on New Year's Eve, Jean-Michel Jarre played the 'Bombay Theme' to a spellbound international audience. In the first week of January he received as many as four nominations for the Screen Awards 1999. He was nominated in the Best Music Director category for 'Taal', in the Best Male Playback Singer category for 'Ishq Bina' from 'Taal' and twice in the Best Background Music category for 'Taal' and '1947-Earth'. After a long hiatus he signed his first Tamil film in a year, for director Praveenkanth. The film titled 'Star' had Prashanth, Simran and Aishwarya Rai in lead roles and was Rahman's third film with the director. In an interview to India's leading English newsmagazine, India Today, during a short visit to India, leading world music group 'Deep Forest' said that they were talking to Rahman about working in collaboration.

He won the first award of the new millenium when he bagged the award for Best Music Director for 'Taal' at the Stardust Cine Honours on the 7th of January. In January Rahman went on an unprecedented award winning spree . He followed up the Stardust Cine Honours by winning the Filmgoers Award for Best Music Director for 'Taal' and then on January 23rd he bagged the Screen Award for the music of 'Taal'. The same day he was declared the winner of the Dinakaran Cine Award for Best Composer for the music of 'Kadhalar Dhinam' and 'Mudhalvan'. But the crowning glory was when, on January 26th 2000, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Indian Republic, the Government of India bestowed the prestigious title of 'Padmashri' on Rahman, for his outstanding contribution to music. The 'Padmashri' is India's fourth highest civilian honour and is conferred on only a select few. Reacting to his receiving the award Rahman said "I am extremely happy and surprised at receiving this award. I hope I can justify my receiving this award. Till now I have been receiving mainly film awards. This is the first time that I have received such an award. I thank God, my mother, all the people and the Govt for this award."

On January 26th, 2000, the Golden Jubilee of the Indian nation becoming a republic, 'Desh Ka Salaam' was finally released as 'Jana Gana Mana'. Billed as a tribute to those who struggled to establish the Indian republic the music was arranged and produced by Rahman and featured vocal and instrumental reinterpretations of India's National Anthem, 'Jana Gana Mana'. It contained exclusive renditions of the national anthem, both vocal and instrumental, by more than 65 musical maestros from all over the country.The pieces were performed by numerous luminaries of Indian music from playback singers to classical vocalists and instrumentalists. The original composition by Rabindranath Tagore was recreated into magnificent arrangement and production by A. R. Rahman. From classical to the contemporary, artists crossing generations, harmonised into a powerful and soulful rendition of the National Anthem.

The vocalists on 'Jana Gana Mana' were D.K Pattamal,Pt. Bhimsen Joshi,Lata Mangeshkar, Pt. Jasraj, Dr. Balamuralikrishna, Jagjit Singh , Pt. Ajay Chakravarty , Smt Shobha Gurtu, Begum Parveena Sultana, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Ustad Rashid Khan, Ustad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Smt Shruti Sadolikar, Dr. S P Balasubramanium, Sudha Raghunathan, Asha Bhosle, Hariharan, Kavitha Krishnamurthy, P.Unnikrishnan, Nityashree, Sadiq Khan, Kaushiki Chakravarty and A. R. Rahman. The instrumentalists were Pt. Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash, Ayaan Ali Bangash, Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma, Rahul Sharma, Vikku Vinayakram, Uma Shankar, Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Kadri Gopalnath, Ravikiran, E. Gayathri, Ustad Sultan Khan, Pt. Kartick Kumar, Niladri Kumar, Kumaresh, Ganesh and A. R. Rahman.

The album "Jana Gana Mana' was formally released at a formal function on the morning of January 27th in the hallowed Central Hall of the Indian Parliament House in New Delhi by none other than the Indian President Mr. K. R. Narayanan and the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in the presence of a very distinguished audience. Mr Narayanan expressed happiness that so many artistes had come together on the project. This particular tryst with nationalism for Rahman began during the Golden Jubilee celebrations of India's Independence in 1997 with 'Vandemataram' and came a full circle in the Golden Jubilee Year of the Indian Republic in 2000 with 'Jana Gana Mana'. This was the result of an endeavour that began three years ago to give India back to the Indians through music and films that touch the emotions of all Indians. "Jana Gana Mana' was an extension of 'Desh ka Salaam' that was broadcast the previous year.

Said Pandit Jasraj of the venture, "Bharat, Kanika and Rahman have done a great job. We all know how difficult it is to get even two artistes to do a duet and they have managed to bring together 65 of us. They are really and truly the three musketeers." Said rahman of the venture "Though it was difficult to bring together artistes from varying streams to work together, the spirit of nationalism in every heart made it very easy. Rejecting the definition of this album and 'Vandemataram' as 'pop-patriotism' Rahman said 'We have made more people listen to the National Song and Anthem more often. I wish to take patriotic music to the poeple. That is why I lent music to Vandemataram and aroused the emotions of the people. Likewise I felt I should do it with Jana Gana Mana also. I feel people sing the national anthem out of a sense of duty and not out of a sense of joy. I want them to sing it with emotion. That's why I have taken up this project. Because we were working with the National Anthem we could not change the tune. All we have done is make it a bit slower and give it more rhythm and soul."

"The album is an attempt to bring out the inherent soul in both the vocal and instrumental renditions of the national anthem. The music is totally unlike Vande Mataram which had been adapted to modern beats. While Vande Mataram was a popular album, this one is a completely non-commercial venture. After all, it is our national anthem and we didn't change its music or try to give it a modern touch. Its rendition was made slower, though, purely to give it soul. And it is meant for the people, as the album is not my property. The idea behind Jana Gana Mana and Vande Mataram, was to direct latent nationalism towards the mainstream. ", added Rahman.

In the evening of January 27th , Rahman participated in a special cultural show titled 'Bharat Gaurav Gyan' in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of the Indian Republic, in New Delhi. In front of of an audience comprising of the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee Rahman sang 'Maa Tujhe Salaam' and 'Jana Gana Mana'. In late January, Rahman was nominated for the Best Music Director Award for 'Taal' in the Filmfare Awards 1999 and the Best Music Director Award for 'Taal' and Best Male Playback Singer for 'Ishq Bina' from 'Taal' in the Zee Cine Awards 1999. In early February rumours abounded about Rahman turning down all new offers for films and concerts as he was shifting base to London where he was to score the music for Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber's play 'Bombay Dreams'. On 13th February he won the Filmfare Award for Best Music for 'Taal'. This was his 11th Filmfare Award and his fourth for Hindi films. Rahman signed up Bharatiraaja's next film 'Alli Arjuna' to be directed by Saran. On February 22nd, the music of the much awaited Mani Ratnam movie 'Alai Payuthey' was released along with its Telugu version 'Sakhi'. The music was of a subdued nature but nevertheless like always sold in huge numbers. This was Rahman's sixth film with his mentor. One of India's leading film magazines "Stardust', in its annual ranking of the 50 most powerful people in Bollywood, published in its March 2000 issue placed him at number 38 , eight notches above the previous year's. Rahman turned down an offer from Subhash Ghai to work on his next film 'Yaadein' as he wanted to concentrate on 'Bombay Dreams'.

In early March Sony Music released the concert recordings of Rahman's 1998 Dubai concert in a 3 cassette pack. On 7th march, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber flew down to Mumbai to formally launch 'Bombay Dreams'. A musical to feature Asian performers and to be staged worldwide he musical was to be in English and the characters to be based on the city of Mumbai. It was to be produced jointly by Shekhar kapoor and Really Useful Group, Webber's production company. Speaking at the launch Shekhar Kapur said "A.R. Rahman's a genius. When Cate Blanchett visited India last year, she took back several Indian sounds, and since then, she's been badgering me to get Rahman to score music for Hollywood films." Webber heard A R Rahman's score for Mani Ratnam's Dil Se. So impressed was he with Chaiyya chaiyya -- the song, the choreography, the visualisation -- for the composer, it was love at first sound. The sound of Rahman's music. that Sir Webber asked Kapur to introduce him to Rahman.

Rahman is the first composer to be invited by Webber to work in a musical. Bombay Dreams will have Webber as the producer and Kapur as the collaborator. Said Sir Andrew at the launch, "Four or five years ago, people didn't have the same access to Hindi film or Indian music as they have today. I became incredibly impressed by Rahman's music. I asked him if he would come to London, and he did. I also asked him if he would be interested in doing a stage show. At that point when he said "Maybe", I thought I better come here and ask him. I am very happy to say that he has just said yes. I saw a very exciting Hindi film dance sequence on Channel 4 and asked Shekhar to give me more such music. And that's how I met the amazing Rahman. He is the most extraordinary melodic composer who is still true to his cultural roots, and deserves to be heard by an international public. I am not writing the music for Bombay Dreams. It will be entirely by the maestro here. Dil Se's music was great and amazingly contemporary. This is for the first time that I have invited another composer to write a musical for the stage. I am very excited to be able to explore this possibility with A R Rahman. My production company has produced several plays by writers other than myself, but this is for the first time I will be working with another composer. I regard A R Rahman as one of the most exciting young composers of our time. I am grateful to Kapoor for bringing us together. This man is a fabulous composer, one of the most exciting today. he is simply brilliant. What you might possibly call the best. His work is very different, very unusual and he himself is such a simple and humble guy that it would be a pleasure for us to work with him. He will bring a different kind of flavour to a musical production in the West." He decided to hear more of Rahman, from Bombay and Roja to Taal and Rangeela. ldquo;Without being told who the composer was, I would identify that it was Rahman," he says. Waxing eloquent about Rahman's work Webber said "The time has come in the West (I believe) for Asian music to make a strong presence and Indian music is going to be at the centre of this new movement. For it is strong on both melody and percussions. Someone like Rahman could provide the leadership. Yes, I feel very strongly about his music."

Rahman said that though he was heavily pre-occupied with music assignments in India, he would devote considerable time for the new project, which would not only be an extension of his career but also showcase Indian culture to the West. In turn he said, "I am happy to be associated with my friend Shekhar Kapur and the legend Andrew Lloyd Webber,God willing, it will be successful, an extension of my career and Indian culture abroad. I am a great fan of the legendary musical theatre composer. I loved some of his songs like Don't cry for me, Argentina. It is indeed flaterring to realise that that my talent has been spotted amidst so many talented artistes. That certain aspect of insecurity of whether I will be able to live upto people's expectations is also there." He also added that he would be shuttling between London, Chennai and Mumbai for the project.

Rahman signed up for director Rajkumar Santoshi's next film 'Lajja' which was to be made ahead of his other film 'Rashq' which was also to have music by Rahman. Not surprisingly rahman opted out of 'Lajja' when Santoshi decided to make it a quickie. On March 11th Rahman completed a clean sweep of the year's major awards by bagging the Zee Cine Award for Best Music Director for 'Taal'. It looked like Bollywood had finally accepted that Rahman was here to stay. On 15th March the music of Rajeev Menon's 'Kandukonden Kandukonden' was released along with its Telugu version 'Priyaralu Pilichindi'. The music was a stunner. All the songs had a classical base and was an instant chartbuster. Encomiums were heaped on Rahman at the release function. Speakers like Kamalhaasan said "'All these people go on and on about his music look at him, he's as cool as ever, I think he's composing some tune even now in his mind that he's least bothered about all these praises! Be like this Rahman, its a great new high!' But an innocuous remark by lyricist Vairamuthu, "I agree wholeheartedly that Rahman is a great composer. But I do wish his music would not totally swamp my lyrics to the extent that nobody can make them out", sparked off a whale of controversy. Rumours of a rift between the two took flight. But Vairamuthu hastily clarified that all was well between them and it was just a friendly advice. But stories persisted that Rahman had totally broken off with Vairamuthu and had begun to promote an upcoming lyricist IlayaKamban.

On March 23, Kamalhaasan's next film 'Tenaali', a full length comedy to be directed by K.S.Ravikumar was launched. This was K.S.Ravikumar's third film with Rahman after 'Muthu' and 'Padayappa' and was his first home production. Rahman returned, after 'Indian', to work for Kamalhaasan with this film scotching persistent rumours of bad blood between the two. This would be the first time that Rahman would be working in a film of this genre. On March 30th, Rahman was conferred the Padmashri by the President of India, K. R. Narayanan in the Durbar hall of the Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi. On the 14th of April the Filmfare South Awards for 2000 were announced. Rahman bagged the Best Music Director Award for 'Mudhalvan'. This was the 8th year in succession that he was winning the Filmfare Awards for Tamil and it was his twelfth Filmfare award overall. He was also nominated under the Best Music Director Category for 'Taal' in the Zee Gold Bollywood International Awards 2000, awarded for popularity of Hindi films in the USA.

Following his nod to movies like Star and Alli Arjuna which would feature Rahman's earlier tracks from another language, a wave of criticism was unleashed against him. Rahman justified his move thus - 'It is the question of time. Since I am going off abroad people don't want to lose the frequncy of my releases. I can't do everyhting at the same time. So I pick up the best tracks and give them those. Its not my fault. They ask for it. If I am not in a position to do a film for them they ask me to atleast let them reuse my tracks from other movies." When asked if he Bombay Dreams would be a channel to Hollywood, "I am not interested in Hollywood. There is more fun in what I am into already. Right now what I need to do is learn a lot of things and spend time to create music rather than shuttling between here and there." On being told that his chances to latch on to the international pop scene were bright "I don't think I'll fit into that scene becasue I am more of a composer than a pop performer. That needs a different kind of energy which I don't think I have. You need to be more of an extrovert for that." He also at this time explained his move towards more offbeat films like 'Lagaan','Zubeida',' Fizaa',' Water' thus "When you take up a big movie people expect big things and want to hear big things. If you are doing a non-commercial film with an international spectrum but a small budget like 'Earth' the songs are of a different genre. I did not want to get typecasted as a commercial music director. This is why I am doing more alternative films." The website indiainfo.com rated Rahman as one of the 10 most powerful people in Bollywood.

Rahman made his first movie appearance, albeit in a clipping, when he was shown receiving a Filmfare Award from K. Balachander for the film 'Minsara Kanavu' in the film 'Kandukondain Kandukondain'. In May he was nominated in the Best Music Director category at the India International Film Awards. On May 27th he bagged the Zee Gold Bollywood International Award for Best Composer for "Taal' making its his sixth straight award for 'Taal'. On this visit he was honoured by the United Tamil Foundation of New York for his outstanding contribution to music. Meanwhile director Sanjay Gupta was in hot pursuit of Rahman trying to get him to compose for his next film 'Kaante'. HMV re-released the soundtrack of Alai Payuthey with 3 new songs, 'Endrendrum Punnagai', 'Mangalyam' and the Sultan Khan version of 'Snehidhane'. Sony Music released 'Jana Gana Mana' on cassette and CD in retail shops finally but intriguingly enough there was not a shred of publicity regarding the release. Rahman took his award winning spree to newer heights when he bagged the award for Best Composer for 'Taal' at the International India Film Awards in London on June 24th. This was his seventh award for 'Taal'. The rumours regarding the split between Vairamuthu and Rahman and Vairamuthu having lured away Rahman's keyboardist gained more credence when his long time keyboardist, Harris Jayaraj signed up as composer for two movies, 'Minnaley' and 'Majnu' with Vairamuthu as lyricist. After making a clean sweep of all the other awards Rahman lost the National Award for Best Music Director which went to Ismail Darbar for 'Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam'. It was announced that Rahman would hold two concerts in North America, in New York City on September 23rd and at the Skydome in Toronto on September 30th.

For a shy and reticent person who always shied away from controversies, people seemed keen to drag him into more and more of them. After the earlier instances when he was a victim of bizarre and baseless accusations ranging from converting his associates to funding terrorists, he came in for more of a similar nature in July 2000. First, on a milder note, people seemed to be in a hurry to label him copycat and were unearthing the original songs, from which Rahman had supposedly copied, at an incredible pace. But most of the allegations were either totally false or there were only some coincidental or passing resemblances. But to be fair there were a couple of songs composed by Rahman with striking resemblances to other numbers. After this he was accused of delaying the release of 'Rhythm'. The story was that Pyramid Natarajan, producer of 'Sangamam', 'Rhythm' and 'Udaya' had not paid Rahman for 'Sangamam'. And therefore he was dragging his feet on completing the work for 'Rhythm'. The producer suposedly toyed with the idea of replacing Rahman with another music director in both 'Rhythm' and 'Udaya' but ran out of money to even complete the shooting of 'Rhythm'. Then the producer supposedly approached Rahman and begged him to complete work on the music of 'Rhythm' so that he could make money from music sales and complete the movie. But the most serious allegation was from the internet portal indiainfo.com which alleged that Rahman was a religious fanatic. It reported that Rahman's mother was stalling the telecast of the second part of an interview to Sun T.V. because the producer refused to delete Rahman's reference to the song 'Sankara nadasareerapara' from the movie 'Shankarabharanam' as one of his favourite songs composed by another music director. Rahman's mother reportedly wanted it removed because she did not want her Muslim son to refer to a Hindu song as his favourite!!! The article described Rahman as a religious fanatic and condemned him for tolerating his family's religious fanticism. It questioned how a composer who had tuned Vandemataram and Jana Gana Mana could do such a thing. Indiainfo.com stood by its article and claimed that it had thouroughly investigated the whole issue before publishing the piece and the journalist in question was one Kalyan Kumar, formerly with the Tamil edition of India Today.

Added to the above was the continued stories about Rahman's split with Vairamuthu. If some magazines were to be believed the whole thing started when director of 'Udaya' Azhagu Perumal introduced upcoming lyricist Ilayakamban to Rahman. Pleased with his work Rahman asked him to do a song for 'Udaya'. This apparently miffed Vairamuthu who till then was sole lyricist to Rahman. Presently a whole host of lyricists like Piraisudai, Arivumudhan, Ilayakamban, Pazhani Bharathi and Vaali are slated to work with Rahman. In July Rahman signed Shankar's next film 'Nayak' starring Anil Kapoor, a remake of 'Mudhalvan'. In addition to reusing some songs from the Tamil original Rahman would compose three new songs for the film. This would be Rahman's sixth film with Shankar. On July 14th Rahman deposed as a prosecution witness in the bevy of corruption cases against former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha. Deposing before judge A C Arumugaperumal Adityan, Rehman said that in July 1995 Jayalalitha's secretary Jawahar Babu had called him up saying that she wanted to see him. Rahman and his mother went to see the then chief minister at the secretariat. Jayalalitha requested him to perform at the wedding of her foster son, Sudhakaran, whom she has since disowned. Sudhakaran, a co-accused in a corruption case against Jayalalitha, is one of the three nephews of Sasikala Natarajan, Jayalalitha's close friend. Rahman said that 10 days before the function, Bhaskaran (Sasikala's nephew) and his wife came to his house to invite him to the wedding on behalf of the groom. As is the custom in Tamil Nadu, they invited him with the card placed on a silver plate holding a 'kumkum' (vermilion) container and two silk saris. It is common practice at Hindu weddings to present vermilion and clothing to friends and relatives on behalf of the bride and groom. From the bride's side, legendary actor Sivaji Ganesan's son Prabhu invited him. A reception was held on September 6, 1995, a day before the marriage, and Rahman and his troupe performed for an hour. The ace music director told the court that he had performed free of charge.

In early August the music of Khaled Mohammed's 'Fiza' was released. For the first time Rahman took on the mantle of Guest Composer and scored his first full length qawwalli song 'Piya Haji Ali' for this film. The song was greatly appreciated by critics and received reviews like 'the best song of the year' putting to shade the equally appreciable score of Anu Malik for the film. Rahman finally said yes to Sanjay Gupta's 'Kaante', work on which would start only in late-2001. Around this time some rounds of the popular quiz show Mastermind was shot in Chennai. Among the participants were the actress Kasthuri who had chosen 'The music of A. R. Rahman' as her area of specialisation for the quiz. On August 10th the much delayed and much awaited score of 'Rhythm' finally made it to the stores. Though the score was above average even by Rahman's standards it did not live up to the massive expectations from it. But the score sold more than 3 lakh cassettes and CDs in just 2 days. On August 14th Rahman appeared at the Planet M store in Mumbai to promote Jana Gana Mana and followed it up with a visit to Music World in Chennai. At both places he was mobbed by huge crowds. Amidst all this came the news that Maniratnam had signed up an upcoming composer by name Dina to score the music for his next two productions , one to be directed by himself and one by his assistant Azhagam Perumal. There were contradictory reports that Dina would only be doing the Perumal film while Mani himself had put off his next film so that Rahman would become a little free and also try to bring about a patch up between him and Vairamuthu. All the reports appeared to be speculation and nothing was concrete. Around this time Rahman also trimmed his hair and returned to his pre-Vandemataram days look.

A further two concerts were added to his North American tour - one in Los Angeles on October 6th and another in San Franscisco on October 8th to make it the first ever concert tour for Rahman and a mammoth one at that. Rahman appeared in ads on Indian channels in the US endorsing the Raaga music megastore chains and encouraging people to avoid buying pirated goods. Though all the shooting was completed for 'Tenaali' the movie was on hold since Rahman was yet to compose 3 songs for the movie and director K.S.Ravikumar opted to put off the release of the movie to October from August than settling for below par compositions from Rahman. Rahman had reached such a position that getting his 'dates' for a movie were proving to be more difficult than that of top-of-the-league actors like Kamalhassan. In early September 'Rhythm' was released in Telugu as well. Rahman signed yet another movie with director Rajkumar Santoshi. Titled, 'The Legend of Bhagat Singh', it was to be a Hindi-English bilingual featuring Indian and International performers. One of India's leading newsmagazines, 'The Week' published a survey it had conducted to determine the most admired Indians. Rahman was placed at No. 12 just behind Kamalhaasan and ahead of the likes of Shahrukh Khan and Pandit Ravishankar. Further signifying his shift to Bollywood, Rahman signed a movie for the Amitabh Bachchan promoted AB Corp(formerly ABCL) to be directed by ad-man turned director Rakesh Mehra, starring Abhishek Bachchan. Rahman followed this up by giving the nod to Shankar for his next mega film, 'Robot', starring Kamalhassan and Priety Zinta. The movie, a science fiction film was to be produced by Media Dreams the new production house floated by Pentafour and would be Rahman's seventh film with Shankar. In September the media carried reports that Rahman had been signed by the UK based Shakespeare Foundation to score the music for a new play on Shakespeare's life. He was supposedly offered an astounding Rs 300 crores for it.

In a reader poll conducted by Stardust Magazine for the year 1999-2000 Rahman was adjudged Best Composer for 'Taal' by an overwhelming 48% of the respondents. On September 23rd, the first of the four concerts of Rahman's North American tour was held at the New York Colloseum in New York City. Rahman previewed a song from 'Bombay Dreams'(sung by new singer Karen) and one from 'Zubeida' to a massive audience of 20,000 which was treated to an array of songs, mostly restricted to the very recent films, by singers like S.P.Balasubramaniam, Hariharan, Udit Narayan, Kavitha Krishnamurthy, Sukhvinder Singh etc. Rahman came armed with a 82-member strong troupe. Academy award winning British lyricist Don Black, best known for writing the songs for James Bond movies, said as a special guest at the event that Rahman's genius was in his originality and skillful improvisation, the "richness and diversity" he could bring to Indian notes. Black, who was working with Rahman on Andrew Lloyd Webber's dance musical 'Bombay Dreams' received a special award for promoting world music. The audience was treated to another surprise by the introduction of percussionist Vikku Vinayagam on the Ghattam. This was quickly followed by an equally successful one in the Toronto Skydome on September 30th which was graced by Hollywood superstar Steven Seagal who was reportedly interested in hiring the services of Rahman for one of his forthcoming films. Here the audience strength was at 40,000. Responding prehaps to widespead criticism over his use of pre-recorded pieces in the New York concert Rahman emphasised that the entire Toronto concert was being performed completely live and no recorded CD music was being used. The third concert was staged in Los Angeles on October 6th and the final one on October 8th in San Francisco. The most jarring feature of the concerts was the open expression of displeasure at the choice of songs by the public at the conert. It appeared that Rahman had misread the composition of the crowd and played tamil songs where there was a predominantly Hindi crowd and vice-versa. That apart the concerts were a resounding success.

In an uncharacteristic interview to Junior Vikatan magazine Rahman alleged that some vested interests had tried to sabotage his US concert tour by influencing the American Consulate to deny visas to key members of his troupe. He said that they had to run from pillar to post to get the visas and many of them landed in New York only on the day of the concert and since they had no time for rehearsals they ended up using lot of recorded music in the concert. In early-October the music of Tenaali was released in Tamil and Telugu. In mid-October trailors of 'Zubeidaa' broke on air riding on Rahman's name with the line 'A.R.Rahman is back scoring music for the story of a princess'. The music released on 16th of October . It was an unconventional album for Rahman, featuring mellow songs. 'Muthu' was taken up for dubbing in Hindi. The grapevine reported that Kamal Haasan was trying to persuade Shankar to drop Rahman from their next project 'Robot'. In an interview to Ananda Vikatan magazine Rahman clarified a whole host of rumours, firstly that nothing was wrong between Vairamuthu and him and they would certainly work together in the future. He also confirmed that he was doing Shankar's 'Robot' and denied that he was doing any musical in association with the Shakespeare Foundation.

On November 1st he presented himself in the Chennai High Court once again to testify that he had not received any gifts from Jayalalitha for her foster son's wedding and had only performed out of respect for the bride's grandfather Sivaji Ganesan. The grapevine reported that Rahman would perform with Jennifer Lopez at a football tournament scheduled in India in 2001. It seemed like Rahman would never stop winning awards in 2000. On November 12th he added two Bollywood Music Awards, for Best Composer and Best Song to his ever-burgeoning kitty. Rahman returned to work with mentor and veteran Tamil director K.Balachandar with 'Paarthale Paravasam'. The film to be launched in early January 2001 would star Madhavan and would be completed in five months. In November the Birmingham Film Fest paid tribute to Rahman by organising a showcase of movies with his music titled 'Sound on the Screen:A.R.Rahman'. Rahman also appeared at the festival. In an interview to India Abroad News Service director Deepa Mehta said that she had more or less shelved 'Water' in view of the protests against the movie. The news was a big disappointment for Rahman fans since since Rahman had himself rated his music for the film as 10 on 10. The ABCL film was tentatively titled 'Awaaz'. In early December Rahman signed up for one of Indian cinema's most ambitious project. The project was 'Taj Mahal-The Great Indian Experience', India's first film on IMAX that was to be made by none other than Bharatbala. In the last week of December the state govt. of Tamil Nadu bestowed his sixth Best Composer State Award for 'Sangamam'. He received two nominations for the IMI-Zee Sangeet Awards for Thakshak but didn't win any.

The year 2000 proved to be a very subdued year for Rahman in terms of output but was unparalleled for the awards and honours that he received and his public performances. He had only 6 releases viz. Alai Payuthey, Kandukondain Kandukondain, Rhythm, Thenali, Zubeidaa and Jana Gana Mana. Apart from this he donned the role of Guest Composer for the first time in 'Fiza'. While Jana Gana Mana was a milestone in terms of the acclaimed names he worked with, 2000 did not see him break any new ground with regard to creative output. Alai Payuthey will probably rank at the bottom among his six movies with Mani Ratnam. Kandukondain Kandukondain saw him go more classical than usual but failed to be pathbreaking. Rhythm disappointed while Tenali was as lacklustre as a Rahman score could get. The saving grace was Zubeidaa where he managed to a great extent in recreating a period score that was mellow. It appeared that Rahman seemed to have hit a plateau. The most significant development was his teaming up with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Shekar Kapoor for 'Bombay Dreams'. 2000 was most fruitful in terms of the recognition he received. Except for the National Award he pocketed every other award that was given. In all he bagged he close to two dozen awards. The crowning glory was the bestowing of the Padma Shri by the Goverment of India.

The year 1999

In January 1999, he performed at the Screen Videocon Awards in Mumbai on the 16th where he unjustly lost the Best Music Award, where he had been nominated for 'Dil Se..' to some very ordinary music in 'Kuch Kuch Hota Hai'. In his performance he presented, for the first time, songs from '1947-Earth' - 'Raat Ki Daldal Mein', 'Piano Theme' and 'Rut Aagayi Re'. February saw the release of 'En Swasa Katre'. He bagged the Filmfare Award for a record ninth time for 'Dil Se..' in the same month. The director of 'Ratchagan', Praveen Gandhi asked him to score the music for his next venture, starring Prashanth, titled 'Jodi'. But Rahman begged off owing to his busy schedule. But Gandhi went ahead and reused the music of 'Doli Sajake Rakhna' for Jodi. In an interesting move the Producer, Murali Manohar released the music at the Muhurat of the movie in February. He signed Rajeev Menon's next film 'Kandukonden Kandukonden'. Continuing with his award winning spree he picked up the Dinakaran Cine Award for Best Music for 'Jeans'. 'Doli Sajake Rakhna' was dubbed into Tamil as 'Oonjal'.

In late March the music of Rajnikanth's 'Padayappa' was released after a long delay. The expectations were immense and most considered the music to be disappointing. But the sales told a different story as 1.2 million music cassettes were sold out in just two days. A new record in the Indian music industry. In 'Padayappa' Rahman tried to compose a score that would be apt for Rajnikanth and came up with a nice blend of the 'Rahmanesque' and the 'Rajnikanthish'. Some bizarre rumours that some fans of Rajnikanth gave death threats to Rahman for his score in 'Padayappa' were also floated. But they were unfounded and Padayappa was a resounding hit. In end March Rahman bagged the Dinakaran Cine Award for his music in 'Jeans'. This was quickly followed by his 10th Filmfare Award also for 'Jeans' in early April. April also saw the release of Kadhir's much delayed 'Kadhalar Dhinam'. This was Rahman's third film with Kadhir who became his brother-in-law the same year when he married one of his sisters. The music was an instant success and was a huge crowd favourite. He signed Aamir Khan's home production 'Lagaan' and the third of Deepa Mehta's Elements trilogy 'Water', a bilingual. He was also slated to work with the legendary composer Andrew Lloyd Webber on Shekhar Kapoor's next film which was to be a movie version of Lloyd Webber's much acclaimed musical 'The Phantom of the Opera'. Following the lukewarm response to the reused score of 'Jodi', Rahman consented to compose two new songs for the movie. He also began working on Maniratnam's next film 'Alai Paayuthe', this being the sixth film of this now legendary combination.

Rahman appeared on a Television show previewing 'Sangamam' and described its music as 'a milestone in Tamil cinema'. A new record was set when TIPS Cassettes and Records Industries acquired the music rights of Subhash Ghai's eagerly awaited 'Taal' for Rs. 5 Crores (Rs. 50 million). The music was released in the second week of June with TIPS struggling to meet the overwhelming initial order of 20 lakh(2 million) CDs and cassettes. The song 'Ishq Bina' made it to the top of the charts even before the release of the music attracting descriptions like 'When A R Rahman meets showman Subhash Ghai, the result can be nothing short of an extravaganza.' Producer-Director Subhash Ghai gushing about 'Taal' said "My moments with A. R. Rahman at his music studio are embedded in my memory. The voices of Ashaji, Kavita, Alka and Sukhwinder echoing the poetry of Anand Bakshi, had me visualising my characters Mansi, Manav and Vikrant going through the emotional highs and lows of life even before the actual picturisation. That's the charisma of 'Taal' music. 'Taal' will always be dear to my heart, and to me it is definitely my most favourite work too date. The credit goes to A.R.Rahman and Anand Bakshi without whom 'Taal' would not have happened." Early June saw the release of 'Sangamam'. After a long time, Rahman was working in a low-budget film; centered around a village dancer. The score was totally folk music and classical music based. He made use of traditional instruments extensively. The tunes were appreciated widely. Ananda Vikatan magazine called him the 'real hero of Sangamam'.

June 12th 1999. A momentous day for Rahman. The music launch of Subhash Ghai's 'Taal", Rahman's first truly Bollywood film, his earlier ones 'Rangeela', 'Daud', 'Kabhi Na Kabhi', 'Doli Sajake Rakhna' and "Dil Se..' being with South Indian directors like Ramgopal Varma, Priyadarshan and Mani Ratnam. The launch was a gala event. Held at New Delhi's 'Siri Fort Auditorium' it featured live perfomances of the songs which was webcast live on 'Rediff-on-the-net'. The music was praised to the heavens. At the press conference that followed, Ghai remarked, "I credit the name of the movie to composer A R Rahman. This movie is a romance and I could have called it any thing -- Dil, Pyaar, Hum Bhaag Gaye, but it was A. R. Rahman's presence in the movie that gave me the confidence to call it 'Taal'. 'Taal' means music and music means 'Taal'. The whole credit goes to A R Rahman and Anand Bakshi. Rahman kept me awake many nights, but after listening to the songs, I felt it was worth all the trouble." The lead actress Aishwarya Rai commented, "It's soul-stirring. I'm sure you are going to enjoy the music as much as we did. The music is the easily the best I have heard and it's definitely going to outlive the release period and it's divine, soul stirring and straight from the heart." "The music of 'Taal' is a trip which you can never forget. You have to experience it. I feel it is the best music from Mukta Arts till date", said Anil Kapoor. 'Taal' was a resounding initial success when it sold 10 lakh cassettes in two days.

Rahman's composition 'Ekam Satyam' which he recorded in London in May was picked by Michael Jackson for a charity concert in Munich in June 1999 whose proceeds were to be donated to the underprivileged children of the world. On June 19th Rahman travelled to Singapore to attend a concert to honour the composers of yesteryears Vishwanathan - Ramamurthy. At the concert heaps of praise was showered on him. Singer S.P.Balasubramaniam called Rahman his son and said that Rahman was a great human being because he respected elders and was very humble. Vairamuthu revealed that Rahman came even as the producers of 'Rhythm' and' Sangamam' were after him to complete the music and background score of their films. He also revealed that Rahman was busy with the music of Maniratnam's latest, 'Alai Paayuthe'. Rahman acknowledged all this in his typical unassuming shy style. M. S. Viswanathan went to the extent of hugging Rahman on stage and referred to him as his son. Rahman made a short speech wherein he revealed how as a small child he saw M. S. Viswanathan's car pass by. He said a few more words in praise of M. S. Viswanathan in his typical Madras Tamil and ended by saying that if he spoke more he would do "olaral" (talk rubbish). A number of Rahman compositions were performed - Padayappa by S.P.Balasubramaniam, Nenjinile by S.Janaki, Jumbalaka by Rafi, Un Pattu Selai Madippula by Maharajan - to thunderous ovation from the near capacity Singapore crowd.

On June 27 he rendered the song 'Ekam Satyam' alongwith International pop star Michael Jackson at a concert for underprivileged children in The Olympic Stadium in Munich, Germany. He performed along with a troupe comprising dancers Shobana and Prabhudeva. The song was sung together by Rahman and Michael Jackson. The concert was part of the 'Michael Jackson Friends' series. The song was penned by Kanika Bharat. The song, written in English and Sanskrit, was recorded by Rahman in London within a week. According to Bharat, the song has a lot of attitude, reflecting the energy, passion and dynamism of India. Jackson heard the song in Paris and immediately wanted Rahman for his show. He reserved the best slot of the concert, the final slot, for Rahman. The other performers in the show were Luciano Pavarotti, Stevie Wonder, Alan Parsons, Vanessa Mae and Boyzone. Jackson rendered the English lyrics while the rest of the song was rendered by Rahman. Jackson rendered the English portions of the song while Rahman sang the Sanskrit portions of the number. The crowd was a huge 60,000. This was Rahman's second collaboration with a famed international ariste, after Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. During his visit to Paris he also met French composer Jean Michel Jarre who invited him to work with him on an album.

In July, he signed noted Indian director Shyam Benegal's next venture 'Zubeida', scripted by noted film critic and the editor of Filmfare magazine, Khalid Mohammed.On the 11th of July, Rahman participated in a Kargil Benefit Evening at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in New Delhi the proceeds of which were donated to the Central Defence Welfare Fund. He rendered the Vandemataram song 'Maa Tujhe Salaam' with the lyrics changed to 'Hey Jawan Tujhe Salaam'. In July he became part of an unique international project, "Listen" whose aim was to raise $99 million for the downtrodden children of the third millenium. ldquo;Being the only representative from India, it is my responsibility to deliver the composition according to international standards. Having started to work at the age of 11 after losing my father at 9, I understand the plight of kids who have to work for their survival,rdquo; said Rahman. For the ldquo;Listenrdquo; project, Rahman was to compose a modified version of one of Beethoven's symphonies. In India, two NGOs mdash; Save the Children, and Consortium for Street Children mdash; were expected to benefit from the proceeds of the project. The ldquo;Listenrdquo; campaign included two one-hour international TV specials, two albums, two videos and a spectacular three-hour international television concert from India. "Listenrdquo; has the support of 99 creative artists. They include film stars Brooke Shields, Liam Neeson, Vanessa Redgrave, Goldie Hawn, Jeff Bridges, Jamie Lee Curtis and Susan Sarandon; musicians Peter Gabriel, John Lee Hooker, Sting and Rahman; visual artists Jeff Koons, Sheela Gowda and Robert Wilson, and songwriters Diane Warren and Lamont Dozier. With this Rahman well and truly made an impact on the International music scene, closely following on the heels of the concert performance with Michael Jackson in Munich. The album was expected to be released the next autumn.

In mid-July he participated in a fund-raising event in Chennai and donated Rs 5 lakh to the Kargil Relief Fund. End-July saw the release of the music of '1947', the Hindi version of Deepa Mehta's 'Earth'. On the 30th of July he won the Cinema Express Award for Best Music in 'Jeans'. The music of 'Jodi' was re-released with the two additional songs composed by Rahman. 'Jodi' was dubbed into Telugu under the same name and 'En Swasa Katre' followed suit as 'Premante Pranamistha'. 'Taal' was dubbed into Tamil as 'Taalam'. Rahman teamed up with Bharatbala and Kanika once again to give a new sound to India's National Anthem. He was part of a concert with 30 of India's greatest musicians in 'Desh Ka Salaam'. 'Taal' was released in mid-July and Rahman's music was hailed as the true hero of the movie. India Today magazine described it thus "A. R. Rahman's glorious music fills every frame , becoming almost a fourth character in the triangle".

Rahman's new project 'Desh ka Salaam' with Bala and Kanika which involved the musical reinterpretation of the Indian National Anthem 'Jana Gana Mana' and was meant to be a tribute of the entire nation to the martyrs of the last 50 years was unveiled simultaneously on all television channels , all radio channels broadcasting in India and the Internet at 8 P.M. IST on the 15th of August 1999, in the process creating media history. The project involved two musical pieces and videos featuring some of India's best musical talents. The first video featured the instrumental version composed by Rahman and was played by the best instrumentalists in India and was shot at Ladakh with Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and his son Rahul Sharma on the Santoor, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on the Mohan Veena, Kartick Kumar, Niladri Kumar, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia on the flute, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan on the sarod and also his sons Amaan Ali and Ayaan Ali both on the Sarod, E. Gaayathri on the veena, Vikku Vinayakram and sons Uma Shankar and Selvaganesh on the Ghatam, Ustad Sultan Khan on the Sarangi, Ravi Kiran, Kadri Gopalnath on the Saxophone, Ganesh and Kumaresh on the violin and A. R. Rahman himself on the Synthesiser.

The vocal version featured a rendition of Rahman's version of the song by Lata Mangeshkar, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Jasraj, Asha Bhonsle, Hariharan, Dr. Balamurali Krishna, Pandit Ajay Chakravarty, Kaushiki Chakravarty, S P Balasubramaniam, Jagjit Singh, Shobha Gurtu, Parveen Sultana, Dr. Bhupen Hazarika, Dr. D K Pattamal, UnniKrishnan, Rashid Khan, Sudha Raghunathan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Nityashree, Saddiq Khan, Ustad Ghulam Mustafa, Ajay Chakraborty and A. R. Rahman himself. Rahman retained the basic tune of the national anthem and developed a new tempo and instrumentation for both the versions. The entire project was musically produced, composed and arranged by A. R. Rahman. The videos were directed by Bala and Kanika. After his highly successful and acclaimed musical reinterpretation of India's National Song 'Vandemataram' in 1997 this was Rahman's unique attempt at the musical reinterpretation of India's National Anthem 'Jana Gana Mana'. "Its our way of paying a musical tribute to all the poeple who have been martyrs for the cause of the nation", said Rahman.

In mid-August Rahman signed another English film, 'The Return of The Thief of Baghdad' directed by noted anthropologist Douchan Gersi and starring Chiranjeevi, Charlotte Ayanna and Omar Shariff. The film was to be simultaneously remade in Indian languages by director Suresh Krissna. He also signed Govind Nihalani's next film. He also returned to work with Ramgopal Varma when he signed his forthcoming film starring Jaya Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Urmila Matondkar. In early September he won the International Viewers' Choice Award at the MTV Video Music Awards for 'Dil Se..' . The award was presented to him by the Managing Director of MTV India, Alex Kuruvilla at a special ceremony in New York City on September 9. The music of Govind Nihalani's 'Thakshak' was released on September 15. He agreed to work on Filmfare editor-scriptwriter Khalid Mohammed's directorial debut, tentatively titled, 'Fizaa'.

In September, on the occasion of her 70th birthday legendary Indian singer Lata Mangeshkar compiled a list of the ten best songs sung her which included the Rahman composition 'Jiya Jale' from Dil Se.. . Calling it her favourite composition of the 90s she said, "A.R. Rahman's style is amazing. No doubt his style is Indian. But there's heavy Arabic influence. I don't think that man thinks of anything except his music. At first I didn't think all that much of the tune. But when I heard the recorded song I was floored. I got to sing an outstanding number after quite a while," Rahman carried forward his ascent on the international music scene when he tied up with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber to work on a dance musical entitled 'Bombay Dream'. He also performed with Sir Webber at a concert in Dublin in October 1999.

Speaking on 'Bombay Dream', Rahman said "It is the increasing popularity of Indian film music in the overseas market which has forced the west to sit up and take note of the `richness' and `diversity' of Indian notes. There is a whole new movement of Indian music happening all over the world today. Madonna is singing our songs, Michael Jackson is crooning Ekam Satyam. Even Stanley Kubrick incorporated Indian notes in Eyes Wide Shut. The fact that Taal entered the Top 20 of the UK audio charts has encouraged people like Webber to explore more and experiment with Indian music too. I was lucky to be able to meet him. I know it's not going to be easy, but both of us are determined to give it a shot."

Mid October saw the release of 'Taj Mahal', Rahman's fourth film with Bharatiraaja. A rural love story Rahman came up with a brilliant music score to match the flavour of the film. The music became fairly popular but the movie bombed. This was followed by the release of 'Kadhalar Dhinam' in Hindi as 'Dil Hi Dil Mein'. Late October saw the release of 'Shankar's 'Mudhalvan'. This was Rahman's fifth film with Shankar. Both the movie and the music became blockbusters. 'Mudhalvan' was a native score that reminded one of his 'Gentleman' score for the same director. 'Mudhalvan' was dubbed into Telugu as 'Oke Okkadu'. Interestingly Rahman appeared in promos of the movie 'Thakshak' wearing the movie's promotional T-Shirt, with "Thakshak' and 'Jumbalakka' written on it, and playing the keyboard for the song 'Jumbalakka'. Visuals of Rahman from the 'Vandemataram' video were used by an Indian company Bharati Telecom in an ad promoting National Integration. He was also reported to be working with French composer Jean Michel-Jarre on a private album.

Early November saw the release of Rajkumar Santoshi's much awaited 'Pukar'. In 'Pukar', Rahman took his propensity to recycle his own tunes to new heights when he reused two of his earlier songs, the 'Nayagara' song from 'En Swasa Katre' and his non-film 'Oh Bosnia' number, which was originaly presented in his 1996 Malaysia concert. 'Nayagara' reappeared in 'Pukar' as 'Kay Sera Sera' and was a huge hit. 'Oh Bosnia' became 'Ek Tu Hi Bharosa' and this was Lata Mangeshkar's second song with Rahman. TIPS Records released a special collection of Rahman songs in November 1999 entitled 'The A. R. Rahman Signature Collection'. This was specially autographed by Rahman himself. In its 21 November issue India's leading newsmagazine 'India Today' declared Rahman as one of the 'Faces of the New Millenium' saying 'Only Rahman can replace Rahman'. Rahman signed his fourth Telugu film with veteran telugu director Kranti Kumar. The movie was titled 'Tommidi Nelalu'. But later it turned out that he was not doing the movie.

As the year and the millenium came to a close encomiums were heaped on Rahman. The Times of India, India's leading newspaper hailed Rahman as one of the 100 greatest Indians of this century and placed him in the Entertainers and Artists category. Rahman achieved another milestone when he became the first Indian to own the much sought after Apple iBook laptop computer. Outlook magazine, in its December issue assessed Rahman to be the third highest earning Indian entertainer just behind Sooraj Barjatya and Subhash Ghai and ahead of other icons like Sachin Tendulkar and Shahrukh Khan. He reportedly earned a whopping 25 crore rupees. On December 12th he won the Zee Sangeet Award for the music of Dil Se.. . In its year end issue, India's leading newsmagazine 'India Today' carried a feature titled 'The Nineties' Decade-The people who made a difference' in which it selected Rahman along with Shubha Mudgal in the music category and hailed him as 'The man who single-handedly reinvented Indian film music.' Unconfirmed reports in the media said that Rahman would feature in Micheal Jackson's next release scheduled for early 2000. In the year end countdown shows on Tamil television, 7 out of the Top 10 songs were composed by Rahman.

1999 was in many ways a momentous year for Rahman. 1999 was the year in which Rahman extended his horizons as a composer. A major highlight of his Hindi soundtracks released that year was his effective use of Hindustani classical music and north Indian folk music. After Dil Se.. found mass acceptance across the nation, in 1999 it seemed that Rahman had finally won over the north with his scores in 'Taal', 'Thakshak', '1947' and 'Pukar'. This left people in Bollywood with no more ammunition to attack him with. His scores that year had a breathtaking range and extended from North Indian folk and fusion in 'Taal' to Hindustani and Western Classical and period music in '1947' and 'Taal', South Indian folk and Carnatic classical in 'Sangamam' and 'Taj Mahal' and contemporary pop and techno music in 'Kadhalar Dhinam' and 'En Swasa Katre'. It was also observed in 1999 that Rahman was increasingly moving away from what has been traditionally acknowledged as the 'Rahman sound'. 1999 encountered a more explorative and experimentative Rahman. All in all, nationally he became the only music director who's music most people bought without batting an eyelid or reading a review or listening to a teaser.

1999 was the year in which Rahman increased his presence on the international music scene. This ranged from interactions with Jean-Michel Jarre to collaborations with Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Bryne and concerts with Micheal Jackson. He also got to work with artists across the entire spectrum of Indian classical music, both Hindustani and Carnatic and instrumentalists and vocalists, when he composed 'Desh Ka Salaam'. In the midst of all this Rahman had the busiest year in movies. He had all of eleven releases, the most for any music director this year and the most for Rahman in his entire career, something very unusual for Rahman who normally has 3-4 releases a year. He had 'En Swasa Katre', 'Padayappa', 'Kadhalar Dhinam', 'Sangamam', 'Jodi', 'Taj Mahal' and 'Mudhalvan' in Tamil and 'Taal', '1947', 'Thakshak' and 'Pukar'(music release only) in Hindi. 'Taal' was the biggest hit of the year and at the end of the year had sold over 75 lakh cassettes and 5 lakh CDs and was continuing to figure on top of the sales charts.

The decade began with Rahman entering the Tamil music scene with 'Roja' and it ended with Rahman making a global impact albeit in a small way. In the course of the decade Rahman changed many things in music. And as the decade and the millenium drew to a close Rahman was widely and ungrudgingly acknowledged as the man who brought about a revolution in the sound of Indian music and was hailed as the man responsible for popularising Tamil film music in India and Indian film music globally.