Home is where the heart is for Indian composer Rahman

Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:52pm EST
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - With two Oscars and two Grammy awards in less than a year, Indian composer A.R. Rahman of "Slumdog Millionaire" fame is riding high on his international success, but his heart still remains at home.

Back in his hometown Chennai after more than a month in Los Angeles, where he now spends most of his time, Rahman spoke to Reuters about working on "We Are The World," the charity single for quake-stricken Haiti, his experience in Hollywood and how India will never really lose its famous son.

Q: It's been almost a year since you won the Oscar. How has your life changed?

A: "I am living more in Los Angeles and meeting a completely different set of people; very nice people of course, and things which were impossible before, such as "We are the world" -- going in that community and singing there, was fantastic. I have been commissioned to do some stuff for artists, which you will hear about shortly. There is a tour also. So much has happened in one year."

Q: You also composed music for your first Hollywood movie, "Couples Retreat." How is working in Hollywood different from working in India?

A: "In a situation like that, anything can happen. There are a lot of committees which scrutinize the music, they hear it again and again, changes happen. The music took almost three months. I was writing and re-writing. They have research groups to whom they play the music and movie to, and take their reactions, come back. You may even get fired. It is a studio film, so anything can happen."

Q: Did that change the way you work? A: "No, not really, but a composer told me that in Hollywood, if a composer doesn't get fired, he isn't a real composer. That is the agony of working on a score there, even the most senior composers get fired. It is the easiest thing to do, fire the composer, because they can't change the actors or the movie, but they can change the music. It's risky."

Q: What is the one aspect that you wish the Indian film industry could borrow from the West?   Continued...