A Musical Journey From Rukmani to Jai ho

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Last Updated : 31 January 2009 at 01:30 AM (India)

Courtesy : ScreenIndia

Allah Rakha Rahman's journey is no less incredible than that of the protagonist of Slumdog Millionaire. From a South Indian regional composer with a National award for his debut film 16 years back, Rahman has now won three nominations at the Oscars for his songs in a mainstream Hollywood film

Photobucket 1966: On January 6, A.S.Dileep Kumar is born to R.K.Shekhar, composer-arranger in Malayalam films. His father passes away when Dileep is just nine. The family subsists on hiring out musical equipment to leading composers.
Photobucket 1977: Rahman joins Ilayaraja as keyboardist after training with Master Dhanraj. He also plays for M. S. Viswanathan and Ramesh Naidu and with Zakir Hussain, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan and L. Shankar on world tours and soon obtains a scholarship from the Trinity College of Music in London, where he graduates with a degree in Western Classical music.
Photobucket 1989: The family converts to Islam and the boy is renamed Allah Rakha Rahman. Rahman becomes a keyboard player and arranger in the band Roots with childhood friend A.Sivamani. He is the founder of the rock band Nemesis Avenue and also plays keyboard, piano, the synthesizer, harmonium and guitar.
1991: Rahman starts a recording studio in his house and starts composing for jingles and television serials.
Photobucket 1992: Mani Ratnam, who has been watching Ilayaraja's assistant, gives him an independent break with Roja, the original Tamil film. A new style of music is introduced and in a first-time feat later equalled only by Ismail Darbar with the Hindi film Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, bags the National Award for a debut score, the first of four.
Photobucket 1993: Roja is dubbed in Hindi and as it sweeps the charts, led by Dil hai chhota sa and the "item" song Rukmani Rukmani, Roja also brings into focus the hitherto-neglected talent of singer Hariharan, who is suddenly considered chart-friendly! With this score, Rahman forever changes the future of Hindi film music.

His Tamil chartbuster that year is Thiruda Thiruda.
Photobucket 1994-1995: Two films of Rahman are dubbed in Hindi - his hit Kaadhalan as Humse Hai Muqabala and Bombay. More importantly, several music directors officially (The Gentleman) and otherwise (Angrakshak, Sabse Bada Khiladi et al) pilfer his Tamil hits.

Duet, Indira and Muthu are his Tamil hits that year. And Rahman gets his first international honour - the Mauritius National award in 1995. In late 1995, Rahman writes history all over again with his debut original Hindi film, Rangeela. Asha Bhosle returns to high-tide with Yai re and Tanha tanha after a lull.
Photobucket 1996: More of Rahman's films are dubbed, with indifferent results except for Hindustani (Indian).

But the Tamil scenario is still upbeat with Love Birds and Kadhal Desam.

Rahman also scores the background music for his first crossover film Fire. And Minsaara Kanavu wins Rahman his second National award.
Photobucket 1997: Sapnay, the dubbed version of the 1996 hit marks the debut of singer KK with Strawberry aankhen, a top name today, and the breakthrough of Hema Sardesai with Awara bhanwre. It begins his long association with Javed Akhtar.

Sony Music (now Sony-BMG) signs Rahman as their first-ever South Asian artiste for the hit album Vande Mataram.

The Tamil hits include Iruvar, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's debut.
Photobucket  1998: The composer storms the charts with Mani Ratnam's first original Hindi film, Dil Se..., ending the struggle of singer Sukhwinder Singh with Chal chhaiyya chhaiyya, and the singer's association with him will now peak with the Oscar nomination for Jai ho from Slumdog Millionaire. The same is true of his journey with Gulzar, whose best phase as a top lyricist begins. The film also features his first song with Lata Mangeshkar, Jiya jale. Also released this year is Jeans.
Photobucket 1999: Rahman finally makes a proper pan-Indian breakthrough with Subhash Ghai's Taal, a musical love story that wins him his first Screen award. In the same year, Deepa Mehta's Earth is released in Hindi as 1947 with a highly-appreciated, underrated but not-too-popular score. These two films cement his association with Ghai and Anand Bakshi (till his death in 2002), Javed Akhtar and Aamir Khan.

He also tours Germany with Michael Jackson in the Michael Jackson & Friends Concert.
Photobucket 2000: Rahman scores his first home production of a Mumbai hero - Anil Kapoor, in Pukar. This is also the first of his only two films with Phalke laureate lyricist Majrooh Sultanpuri.

The Tamil side is noted for Kandukondain Kandukondain and Thenali.
Photobucket 2001: Lagaan, Aamir Khan's first film, wins him the National Best Music award for the first time for a Hindi film. Careful observers term this his most accomplished score in Hindi till then.
Photobucket 2002: Saathiya makes the industry take note of Kunal Ganjawala with O humdum suniyo re. There is also an evocative score in The Legend Of Bhagat Singh.

Back home in the South, Rahman scores with Kannathil Mutthamittal and Baba.
Photobucket 2003-2004: The Rahman Hindi bandwagon hits a lull with dull scores like Tehzeeb, Meenakshi - A Tale Of Three Cities and Lakeer. But it ends on another high with Swades.

Rahman get the rare honour of scoring for the Chinese film Warriors Of Heaven And Earth and Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage presentation Bombay Dreams. He backs out of Indian commitments like Dil Ne Jise Apna Kahaa and Kisna after recording a few songs. He also notches the highest tally among National award-winning composers with Kannathil Muthamittal, his fourth trophy.

With Finnish folk music band Varttina, he scores music for The Lord Of The Rings, a theatre production, and also composes the piece Raga's Dance for Vanessa Mae's album Choreography.

The whizkid is also appointed Global Ambassador to the WHO initiative, Stop TB Partnership.
Photobucket 2005: Rahman fails to recreate the period magic of his two earlier films with Mangal Pandey - The Rising and Netaji - The Forgotten Hero. But his two songs in Kisna are noticed. And for every low the composer gets a compensatory high: He inaugurates his state-of-the-art AM Studios in Chennai and Time Magazine lists Roja among the Top 10 Movie soundtracks of all time.
Photobucket 2006: Rahman composes the heady Daler Mehndi - Chitra sarson-sambar title-track for Rang De Basanti. Here begins another fruitful association - with Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra and lyricist Prasoon Joshi.

Rahman also launches his own music label, KM Music, with his score for Sillunu Oru Kaadhal. He also gets an Honorary award from Stanford University for his contribution for global music.
Photobucket 2007: On his 42nd anniversary, he inaugurates the K.M.Music Conservatory. In a double whammy, Rahman grabs both Best Music and Best Background Score trophies for Guru from Nokia Star-Screen. He also scores the background music for Provoked and composes the third of Deepa Mehta's trilogies, Water. Rahman also co-composes Shekhar Kapoor's Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

The home front is represented by the all-time blockbuster Sivaji - The Boss.

2008: Jodhaa Akbar (for which he clinches another Screen trophy for Background Score) and Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na (for which he gets Screen's Best Music Award) are highs enough, but that great times are coming is evident from his tail-end 2008 release Ghajini becoming India's all-time biggest grosser. Slumdog Millionaire, his mainstream Hollywood film has won him a Golden Globe Best Music nomination and hosannas galore abroad including 10 other nominations and awards from various organisations for Best Score and Best Song.

Photobucket 2009: The incredible happens - in his birthday month, A.R.Rahman wins the two Screen awards mentioned above, the Golden Globe for the score of Slumdog.. and Best Music and two Best Song nominations for Jai ho and also O saya, for which he also co-writes lyrics. He is the first Indian to win three Oscar nominations. The Oscar is now a possible - no, make that likely - dream.

And the journey continues..