Sunday, Aug 14, 2022
Outlook.com
review

Medley Messiah

Mathai, not knowing her music, can’t unravel the ‘mystery’ behind Rahman’s music.

Medley Messiah
Medley Messiah
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

In my sole interaction with A.R. Rahman in his Panchathan studio in 2005, I realised this was a man who would never, ever, discuss how he stitches together his music. After reading Kamini Mathai’s anecdotal biography, I am not wiser. Mathai’s research is extensive: she charts the life of R.K. Sekhar, Rahman’s father, who arranged music for the south’s top music directors; chronicles the impact of Sekhar’s early death on Rahman, who at age nine, armed with a synthesizer, was forced to be the breadwinner and a dropout; she talks to everyone—a watchman at a studio, singers, guitarists, recording engineers, hangers-on at Rahman’s studio. And she quotes the elusive Rahman from cryptic media interviews. The book, in effect, is a string of quotes.

Mathai, not knowing her music, can’t unravel the ‘mystery’ behind Rahman’s music. She wouldn’t know that the song Ottagathai Kattiko (based on Dharmapuri ragam) in Gentleman (1993) is a better-arranged version of Telugu composers Raj-Koti’s Malgudi Shubha number Eddam Ante Teddam Antav (1991). She does, however, say Rahman arranged music for the duo. Rahman, like hip-hop artists, uses digital samplers. Sampling is the using of a snippet of recorded music in a composition of one’s own. Music becomes manipulable. Songs become compilations. Rahman has a great appetite for manipulation of audio fragments. For him, embellishments matter more than the tune—creating a bricolage of unique sounds. Mathai does not know how to unspool this Rahman.

Outlook Newsletters

Read More from Outlook

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

Lament Of Separation: Songs Of Habba Khatun, Last Queen Of Kashmir, Still Echo In Valley

In happy times and sad, Habba Khatun’s sensuous songs make both young and old emotional. With the never-ending conflict bringing tragedies to every doorstep, Habba’s lyrics of separation amplify their mourning.

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

How Indian Laws Govern People’s Right To Love And Live

In India, only those relationships between a man and a woman are considered to be legitimate when there is a marriage between the two.

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Kohli Quits Test Captaincy, Leaves Leadership Vacuum

Virat Kohli, 33, had recently stepped down as India's T20I captain and was subsequently removed as the ODI captain.

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

UP Elections 2022: How Congress Is Harnessing Power Of 'Persecuted' Women To Counter BJP

A Mahila Congress leader, who is the face of the ‘Ladki Hoon, Lad Sakti Hoon’ campaign, however, has accused the party of anti-women bias after she was denied a ticket.