AR Rahman Says He "Changed" When His Mom Pledged Her Jewellery To Buy First Studio Equipment

AR Rahman shared this detail in an interaction with Imtiaz Ali, Mohit Chauhan, and Irshad Kamil.

AR Rahman Says He 'Changed' When His Mom Pledged Her Jewellery To Buy First Studio Equipment

Image was shared on Instagram. (Image courtesy: arrahman)

Music and cinema lovers were in for a treat when streaming giant Netflix dropped a YouTube video featuring music composer AR Rahman, director Imtiaz Ali, singer Mohit Chauhan, and lyricist Irshad Kamil. As the cinema greats sat down for a free-wheeling conversation as part of the promotions forChamkila, secrets were spilled and lovely anecdotes were discussed. AR Rahman, who has two Academy Awards among his many accolades, spoke about his humble beginnings. The composer lost his father at a young age and was raised by his mother Kareema Begum. Speaking of his late mother's impact on his musical journey, AR Rahman said: “When I built my studio, I didn't have money to buy an amplifier or equaliser. There was just an AC with a shelf and carpet. I used to be sitting there, not having money to buy anything. I built this and was sitting inside with no equipment. My first record came after my mom gave her jewels to be pledged. That is when I felt empowered. I could see my future; that one moment I changed.”

About his childhood, AR Rahman further added: “I had a lot of questions. I didn't go to college so I felt like I was missing out on something. When I was 12, I was vibing with people in their 40s and 50s. My boredom led me to listen to many other things, to explore what was there on the other side. That side was spectacular for me. There was so much out there.”

In the same chat, Imtiaz Ali shared that he was not too happy to meet AR Rahman during their first interaction. This comes as a surprise given that the two are now frequent collaborators with hit albums such as Highway, Rockstar, Tamasha, Love Aaj Kal [2020] and now, Chamkila to their credit. Offering context, Imtiaz Ali explained: “I was not happy, I don't think I was nervous either. But it wasn't as though, ‘Oh, I'm happy that I am going to meet AR Rahman.' It was just like a responsibility."

To this, AR Rahman recalled: “The producer, I believe, told him, ‘Get him!'”  Agreeing, Imtiaz Ali said: “So, the producers at UTV said that we will take you to Chennai, we'll put you in a room with him, you can tell him the story of Rockstar. In one way or the other, catch him because he doesn't say yes or no. You have to get a yes from him. And then he came in and said, ‘Yeah, what is your story?' I started telling the story. I went on and on. I knew when I was looking at him and talking to him, I had a sense that it was going all over. It wasn't registering in his head."  

"Then I stopped and again started but this time, I said in the beginning, there is a dark screen, we hear some sort of the music and then we hear these lines (Nadaan Parinde lyrics),” Imtiaz added. In particular, Imtiaz Ali narrated the lines, “Kaga Re Kaga Mori Itni Araz Tose Chun Chun Khaiyo Maas, Re Jiya Re Khaiyon Na Tu Naina Mor, Piya Ke Milan Ki Aas,” and translated the meaning for Rahman.  It was then that the filmmaker felt a shift in Rahman's interest towards the film. “At that point in time, I got a sense that we are on and maybe he will do it,” Imtiaz Ali added. 

Needless to say, the two created magic together and Rockstar is one of the most celebrated albums in recent Bollywood history. Interestingly, the two other talents involved in the conversation – Mohit Chauhan and Irshad Kamil – are also integral parts of the Rockstar album. While Irshad Kamil wrote the lyrics, Mohit Chauhan was the singing voice for Ranbir Kapoor in the film that follows the tumultuous personal and professional journey of a rockstar.