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Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan was a 'unique genius': A.R. Rahman

By Web Desk
September 17, 2016

FUKUOKA, JAPAN: In a recent interview, renowned Indian composer and musician A.R. Rahman spoke highly of late Pakistani qawwal Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and defined him as a 'unique genius'.

A.R. Rahman's melodious music has mesmerized audiences over the years, helping him amass a global fan following. The Indian musical maestro, who was dubbed the 'Mozart of Madras' after winning two Academy Awards for original score and original soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire, spoke to veteran Pakistani journalist Fazil Jamili and said that he credited Pakistani legend Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for influencing him in his early years as a musician. 

In response to a question, A.R. Rahman described what he felt music was to him. Rahman said that music represented love for him and how it could play a vital part in uniting people. 

"I started playing music very early, when I was around eleven or twelve years old," he said. "What I have discovered through all these years is that music represents love and it's about niyat (intention). Music is also about believing in a larger force and the connections we share as human beings," he added. 

As mentioned above, A.R.Rahman rose to global fame and prominence when he won two Oscar awards for original score and original soundtrack for Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire. He accredits his success to two factors--his generosity as well as his fondness for technology.

"Well, I grew up with technology and had this positive attitude of giving," he said, when asked about how he gets the inspiration for his song compositions. "I tend to be open regarding things rather than be constrained about it so all my collaborations and projects that I am doing are an inclusive process," he added.

He also disclosed how the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack was an inclusive process, in the sense that A.R.Rahman was in London mixing the track while artist MIA was in New York recording it. 

"The drums were recorded in Chennai, MIA was recording in New York and then I was in London mixing it," he said with a smile, divulging into the process of how he crafted the Slumdog Millionaire soundtrack. "So it was done through Skype and all," he added.

Just like any other musical magnate, A.R.Rahman too is inspired and influenced by a legend. And that too, a Pakistani one.

"Nusrat sahab was a unique genius," he said of the legendary qawwal. "When I look at him as a whole package, he is untouchable even now. I grew up with some of his music, which was really unique and that certainly happens once in a lifetime," he stated. 

In response to another question, A.R. Rahman said that diversity with regard to work wasn't necessarily a good or a bad thing. The composer and song-writer said that in the end, it all depended on the product.

"It's all about how much you know and how much you want to control," he said. "Sometimes if you have just one forte then you can't collaborate with so many different people since you need variety for that to happen . At times, you have to do with one focal point or one vision and that too helps. So you can't say it's either a good thing or a bad thing, you have to look at the product at the end," he said.

A.R. Rahman was conferred with Japan's prestigious Fukuoka Grand Prize on Friday. After receiving the award, he performed with a school band and sang his song 'Jai Ho'.

The Fukuoka Prize was established by Fukuoka City, Japan, in 1990 as an award presented annually to honor the outstanding work of individuals, groups and organizations to preserve and promote the unique and diverse cultures of Asia. The prize aims to foster and increase awareness of the value of

Asian cultures, and to institute a broad framework for exchange and mutual learning among the people of Asia. This year marksthe 27th anniversary of the inception of the Fukuoka Prize. Grand Prize Mr. A.R. RAHMAN (India/Music)

Pakistani architect Ms. Yasmeen Lari was also honoured with the Arts and Culture award.