Allah Rakha Rahman (Tamil: ஏ.ஆர்.ரகுமான்; born January 6, 1967 in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India as A. S. Dileep Kumar) is an Indian film composer, record producer, musician and singer. His film scoring career began in the early 1990s. He has won eight Filmfare Awards, four National Film Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe and two Academy Awards. He is the first Indian to win two Oscars.
Working in India’s various film industries, international cinema and theatre, by 2003, Rahman, in a career spanning over a decade, has sold more than 100 million records of his film scores and soundtracks worldwide, and sold over 200 million cassettes making him one of the world’s all-time top selling recording artists.
Time Magazine has referred to him as the “Mozart of Madras” and several Tamil commentators have coined him the nickname Isai Puyal (Tamil: இசைப் புயல்; English: Music Storm).
Early life and influences
A. R. Rahman was born in a musically affluent Tamil family. His father R. K. Shekhar, was a Chennai based composer and conductor for Malayalam films. Rahman lost his father at a young age and his family rented out musical equipment as a source of income. During these formative years, Rahman served as a keyboard player and an arranger in bands such as “Roots”, with childhood friend and percussionist Sivamani, John Anthony, Suresh Peters, JoJo and Raja. Rahman is the founder of the Chennai-based rock group, “Nemesis Avenue”. He played the keyboard and piano, the synthesizer, the harmonium and the guitar.
His curiosity in the synthesizer, in particular increased because, he says, it was the “ideal combination of music and technology”. He began early training in music under Master Dhanraj. At the age of 11, he joined, as a keyboardist, the troupe of Ilaiyaraaja, one of many composers to whom musical instruments belonging to Rahman’s father were rented. Rahman later played in the orchestra of M. S. Viswanathan and Ramesh Naidu, accompanied Zakir Hussain, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan and L. Shankar on world tours and obtained a scholarship to the Trinity College of Music where he graduated with a degree in Western classical music.