To Dear A.R.Rahman

5 Aug

Dear Rahman,

First things first, I am one of yours & Ilaiyaraja sir’s biggest fans’! My childhood was spent in listening to your awesome music when I used to rush to buy your new film cassettes (Tamil & Hindi) in an obscure city in North India. I have literally grown with yours & Raja Sir’s music, which has shaped my musical tastes strongly and forever.

I was elated and over-the-moon watching you get the Oscar award, when a zillion fans in India waited with bated breath to know whether their demi-God would bring back the coveted trophy and you made us proud Indians and put India in the global music map. I am aware that you have come up in life and music after so many sacrifices, trials and tribulations and you deserve every bit of this global popularity and more. Your life story is awe-inspiring, musical, melancholic and yet magical. I cannot forget how you gratefully thanked your Mother, while accepting the Oscars.

But, at the same time, I have mixed thoughts now as I am delighted that you have become a global phenomenon but I also feel (strictly personal opinion) that your music is missing its magic off late. This is with reference to songs in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya & the recent Endhiran. In Puli, I did see the flashes of brilliance in songs like Amma Thale/Power Star/Namakame. This is because:

  1. The music is overpowering the human voice e.g. Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya songs
  2. The tunes don’t seem to stand on their own legs but the orchestration seems to prop-up the tune e.g. Most Endhiran songs
  3. To put it simply, I am not able to simply “hum” your tunes as they are increasingly sounding over-experimental and complex to me
  4. Your music is not appealing to me in the first/second instance but maybe after multiple listenings only

I am afraid that I will lose my Rahman to the West. But, amidst all these thoughts I am also aware that every composer/artist goes through these peaks & troughs where even the greats are not spared. So I hope and pray that this is only a passing phase for you and you will be the same Rahman whose songs were like medicine to me.

I also feel, maybe it is me who is feeling this but I have heard it from many of my friends’ too and I believe we as fans have that possessive right to express our frank opinion about our Idols’ because only those who love will chide/criticise.

As a fan, my expectations are very simple, I don’t expect a Roja in every album but I just want your music to touch my heart and lose myself to it!


9 Responses to “To Dear A.R.Rahman”

  1. anand August 5, 2010 at 8:56 pm #

    I am one of those zillion fans myself.

    While I agree with the general sentiment, I would also like to point out that VTV had the excellent blues number, Aromale, while Delhi-6 (IMHO, Rahman’s best work in Hindi) was not that far back. So hope is still there!

    • Prakash Srinivasan August 14, 2010 at 3:09 am #

      Hi Anand: Yes Delhi-6 was fabulous and Aaromale was okay for me. My opinion is that ARR should go back to his basics of composing captivating tunes like Ennavale/Nilaa Kaaygiradhu/Malargale etc instead of making music like instant noodles, which vanish from our minds soon.

  2. Sham August 7, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    Reading VTV had music dominating vocal sounded really funny to me.. I think u may want to listen to the unplugged versions which were performed in the audio launch.. if ur allegations that AR lacks soul now is true then unplugged versions cant be worth hearing..

    • Prakash Srinivasan August 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm #

      Hi Shahul,

      I have not heard the unplugged versions of VTV, so will reserve my comments after doing that. But I definitely felt that the actual VTV song voices were lost in the music for e.g. Omana Penne and basically the words too lack clarity e.g. Anbil Avan. This is anyway my personal opinion, so if you feel otherwise, its perfectly fine and good for you!

  3. Ravi Natarajan August 13, 2010 at 10:13 am #

    Hi Prakash

    As you said rightly, all artists go through their highs and lows. ARR is no exception. In my view, with his score of ‘Kandukondaen Kandukondaen’, in 1999, his run of soulful music ended. In the 21st century, his music has been only hits and misses. The only director he has always succeeded has been Ashutosh Gowarikar. His music for Swadesh and Jodha Akbar (both in this century) were outstanding.

    The last good Mani score was ‘Guru’, but only the Hindi score stood out. In my view, he needs to do a good ‘South Indian’ score soon. It’s hard to believe that he is from Chennai – he has not had a good native score in years. There lies the problem. He is just based there – his music is not. It’s fine to cater to the demands of his stakeholders – North Indian, pan Indian (Mani/Shankar), international, but at some stage, he should step back and give the world a song like ‘Uyirum Neeye’ or ‘Kannamoochi Enada’. Something that brightens you up or send you into a nostalgic trip.

    Accolades apart, he needs to have an identity that bind the audience to the type of sound that is associated with the name. In the last few years, the sound strikes you as only loud beats without soul and a melody structure that is very hard to comprehend. When you listen to the ‘Four Seasons’ by Vivaldi, you will stop on the tracks and appreciate it even if you have no idea about Western Classical Music. Nobody tells you that Vivaldi will grow on you after you hear it repeatedly 🙂


    Ravi Natarajan

  4. Prakash Srinivasan August 14, 2010 at 2:49 am #

    Hi Ravi: I am so delighted that you have commented as I am a BIG FAN of your blog:-) I agree that ARR has to come back to his soulful style without diluting it for other geographical or commercial considerations. This does not mean he has to restrict himself but at the same time there are certain things which cannot be sacrificed at any cost and melody is definitely one of them.

  5. ravikumarv October 2, 2010 at 12:40 am #

    Hi Prakash,

    Your post is really good and makes lot of sense to me. As a die hard fan of Rahman and a keen listener of music, what you expect and expressed are absolutely correct. Nowadays techno music is gaining popularity and if you see the “omana penne” song, Rahman would have dumped it with flange and phasers. But the fact is that, we do not know what was the pressure from the producer’s and director’s side while he was composing. Same thing about Endhiran. Rahman cannot compose a tune that doesn’t suit the scene or there is every possibility that, the director or the producer would have asked him to compose such a techno song. Sorry if I am wrong. This is my humble opinion.

    Inspite of that, If you see “Omana Penne”, Bilahari Raga chayal peeps out especially during the interlude.

    Keep venting out such emotions or feelings in your blogs. Who knows, this may even reach A.R.Rahman very soon. Hope Rahman keeps a perfect balance with the modern technos and the classicism while composing.

  6. rizmycool May 1, 2012 at 4:39 am #

    I’m sorry if i’m really late to read this. But i do share a fair share of the authors aspirations but they are ephemeral! I really dont want ARR to come up with yet another Roja, Dilse, Alaipayuthe, Kannathil Muthamittal or RDB. But i would love to see some shades of it in his future projects but that will kill the whole image that ARR has created for himself.

    Most of his recent work do not overlap thus all of them sound unique, fresh and as the author claims a bit complex. But that’s what ARR is and that’s what his fans want him to be as well. Its like a river flowing encountering different obstacles and experiencing varying pace. ARR is simply moving into new ideas to cater not just to his fans but to aptly suit the movies and especially be unique with the people he works.

    I think he’s excelled at it and he is one of the Music COMPOSER+ Arranger who treats the whole album specially. Especially your complain regarding VTV is unacceptable. Hosanna is mellifluous as it can be with the vibrant rap portion – How did you miss it?. Omanne Penne has minimal sounds when the lead vocal is singing but power level varies once the lead vocal is off, if you have heard the sounds of Boyz II Men & Boyzone two boy bands from across the Atlantic this arrangement is somewhat similar. The song was a hummable one and it was quite a new kind of a new genre introduced into tamil cinema.

    The surprise package of VTV was Aaromale and i don’t have words to describe ARR+Alphonse collaboration. Its sheer brilliance is that it crossed the language barrier and for a tamil speaking me it was complete noise when the song started but once i crossed the whole song it seems like the promised land from the god!

    The two fast paced songs Kannukkul Kanai & Anbil Avan have high pitch voices in them to best out the sound levels in a balaced manner. The arrangement of Kannukul song is to compliment with the vocal range of Naresh Iyer. The arrangements are completely new and sure is complex but the finished product is of high quality. Even Anbil Avan is sung by Chinmayee & Devan from outside of their comfort zone and they match ARR note to note.

    In fact the whole VTV credits do not go to ARR alone its the amount of input by Gautham Menon that propels such a complete package & his effective usage of the sounds in the movie helps it to make an impact.

    On contrary the sounds of Endhiran even i felt was completely out of this world but it was far more advanced to these times where catchiness is a must for every song. Maybe ARR was overwhelmed by the project that he lost touch what would reach the fans. Despite his high efforts the OST seemed a little more than average and many complained that the DIGITAL mauling of sound is unacceptable! But since then ARR has given Ravan/Raavanan with a superb OST & the biggest album of 2011 Rockstar.

    NOTE: Its practical to compare ARR to Harris Jayaraj, Yuvan SR, Vidyasagar & even GV Praksh. But what stands out in ARR is that he is innovating with the right kind of ingredients & ARR is really lucky to be working with such caliber of people who bring the best out of him. Sure Harris Jayarajs work is hummable and most of them are catchy but as long as he works with directors like Gautham, Shankar he is pushed to innovation but the rest are just demanding him to repeat his earliar works. Even with Yuvan the directors who he associates really bring the best out of him like Selvaraghavan, Ameer.
    But at times these guys simply concentrate on asingle song and let the album hit al all time low. Harris with Ko was only concerned with Yeno Kuviyamilla & the rest were rehashes of his earliar work. Yuvan in Siva Manasula Sakthi was competely behind Oru Kal Oru Kannadi and the rst of the album didnt look much noticeble.

    But what they are doing is they are readily connecting with the audience and it is a requirement for them to have instantly catchy songs. But ARR is in a different phase in his journey that what matters to him primarily is quality over quantity. But to survive the showbiz one should balance both quality and quantity.

    To sum up the young kid in myself would love to hear rahman reuse Santhosha Kanneere, Kannalane, Kadhalikkum Pennin & many of his tamil jems again or do similar compositions. But the grown up me who has travelled with ARR all these years will hope only one thing, “Sir Keep doing what is fine for you, you hardly miss these days.”


  1. An open letter to A.R.Rahman « - August 6, 2010

    […] came across this posting online by Prakash Srinivasan and thought it’s worth mentioning […]

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