I grew stronger after suicidal intentions: A R Rahman

Chennai: Almost 20 years ago, it seemed to be a very hard time for the Mozart of Madras, who shockingly revealed that he even had suicidal intentions in the beginning of his career. But this phase actually helped him emerge braver in his life later, confessed Rahman.

The composer bared all about the trials and tribulations of his life in Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of AR Rahman, authored by Krishna Trilok. Speaking at the book release event in Mumbai, he said, “Up until 25, I used to think about suicide. Most of us feel we are not good enough. I lost my father…, there was this void… There were so many things happening. (But) that in a way made me more fearless. Death is a permanent thing for everyone. Since everything created has an expiry date, why be afraid of anything?”

Things turned for the better when he built his recording studio Panchathan Record Inn in his backyard in hometown Chennai. “Before that, things were dormant so maybe it (the suicidal feeling) manifested then because of my father’s death. I didn’t do many movies. I got 35 movies and I did two. Everyone wondered “How are you going to survive?” I was 25 then.”

When Rahman was nine years old his father R K Shekhar, a film-score composer, passed away and the family had to rent out his musical equipment to get by. But Rahman had taken to music at a very young age. “I finished everything between the ages of 12 and 22. It was boring for me to do all the normal stuff. I didn’t want to do it,” he says.

When in his 20s, Rahman along with his family embraced Sufi Islam. He transformed himself by letting go of the baggage from the past, and also his birth name — Dileep Kumar, which he says, he despised.

“I never liked my original name Dileep Kumar. I don’t even know why I hated it. I felt it didn’t match my personality. I wanted to become another person. I felt like that would define and change my whole (being). I wanted to get rid of all the past luggage,” he said.

With Mani Ratnam’s Roja, Rahman shot to instant fame as the wonder kid in the industry, who changed the grammar of music and sounds. The world changed for him after the track Chinna Chinna Asai became a universal hit.

The musician finds creating music an internal process. “You manifest who you are and let it out. So when you are ideating on your mental drawing book, you need a lot of self-analysis and you have to dive deep within you. You need to listen to yourself. It’s hard to listen to your inner side. But once you do, you have to let loose and forget yourself,” he adds.

Do something new
For Rahman, the most important thing is to constantly try to do something new; be it professionally or personally. “You feel jaded if you do the same thing. You need to find different things to do. For me travelling, parenting and spending time with my family — though I can’t do that much — is beautiful. It helps a lot.”

NT Bureau