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

FUKUOKA: 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 to pursue music. 

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 discovered through all these years is that music represents love and is 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, he rose to the upper echelons of global music 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 as well as the positive attitude of giving,” he said, when asked as to how he gets the inspiration for the songs that he composes. “I tend to be open about 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 it 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 necessary a good or a bad thing. 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 it . 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.    

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

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