Rajan Shah, co-founder of SAMMA (South Asians in Media, Marketing & Entertainment) summed-up his opening remarks with what could truly describe the rest of the April 19 talk with superstar composer A.R. Rahman. "Some of the most incredible, untapped ideas are coming from South Asians," he told the packed audience on the top floor of Asia Society HQ in Manhattan.
A few celebrities were sprinkled throughout the crowd of music and film aficionados. Fashion photographer Nigel Barker sat three rows down, close to a door so he could make a quick exit, after he asked Rahman where he gets his inspiration from. DJ Rekha sat in the front row and asked Rahman if he could come teach her class at NYU. Salman Ahmed, the lead singer of Junoon was also in the front row (see SAJAforum coverage of his recent SAJA event).
The 44-year-old music and movie composer was his typical humble self as he was interviewed by Anjula Acharia-Bath CEO of Desi Hits. His answers came through a soft-spoken voice that spouted short and simple explanations to his multiple Grammy, Academy and Golden Globe awards.
"I just want to get to know the man behind the music," said Acharia-Bath. She was not alone--the audience peppered Rahman with questions about his upcoming album, his personal life, his thoughts on Bollywood and his upcoming Jai Ho: The Journey Home world tour. The tour launches at Nassau Coliseum on June 11 before heading across the US and to other countries. It will encompass dance performances as well as musical numbers from Rahman's well-known scores.
Rehman spoke about the spirituality of his work--how he cleanses to concentrate on his work, and how he ensures that there are no cell phones in the studio. He tells Acharia-Bath, almost bashfully, how he began as an electrical engineer, but his mother wanted him to follow in his father's footsteps. R.K. Shekhar was a well-known composer for Malayalam and Tamil movies.
"My first movie, I thought it was going to be my last movie," he said. "So I wanted to do my best and then leave it."
Here's video of his interview with MTV Iggy:
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