In a recent interview with The Quint, music composer – and now producer – AR Rahman expressed the angst that many people have been feeling over Bollywood’s obsession with remixing hits from the ‘90s, early 2000s and Punjabi pop for films.
Speaking about the change that the music industry has gone through, Rahman said, “When something is successful, they overdo it and kill it, right? So people have felt like, ‘Where are the original songs? Why are there not songs like before? Where is another Rockstar, or where is another Taal?'”
The Oscar-winning music composer said that while remixes were not a “bad idea”, they have not been compensated with other things. “When it gets too repetitive and a million people do that, then it becomes overdone, it becomes a cliché and it becomes annoying.”
Rahman was speaking to The Quint about the upcoming film 99 Songs which is his musical. It also marks his debut as a producer. Rahman said that 99 Songs comes at a time when people are craving for original music. The music will be encoded with Dolby Atmos, a technology by Dolby which aims for the experience of multi-dimensional and rich sound.
Speaking further on the remixing craze in Bollywood, Rahman also said that he had heard from composers that credits are not given where they are due just because some remixers make a small change or addition to the song and claim credit. “It’s holy for people. You can’t take that, push all the names, and put the remixer’s name on it. They don’t even put the original composer’s name.”
“That way, this generation will think, ‘oh that’s a cool song by this remixer'. That’s not a good thing. Credits have to be given and permissions have to be taken,” Rahman stated.
He also gave the example of his song ‘Ishwar Allah’ from the Aamir Khan-starrer 1947 Earth, composed by AR Rahman and written by lyricist Javed Akhtar, which was remixed recently for the Vivek Oberoi starrer PM Narendra Modi.
“It’s one of my favourite songs […]. They took that song, and they really killed it. […] Whatever’s added to that may be beautiful, but not with this… because it’s [about] memories, it’s [about] respect. It’s something that happened at that time. It’s destiny. You can’t change that, and – I hate to use the words –bastardised it.”
When asked if he was at least given credit in the remade version, Rahman changed the topic, and said, “Let’s talk about good things in life.”
AR Rahman also responded to the controversy around Bangaladeshi-Swedish writer Taslima Nasreen and his daughter Khatija Rahman.
Taslima had, last week, said on Twitter that seeing Khatija in a burkha with a veil made her feel “suffocated”. Khatija responded to Taslima on Instagram, saying that she was proud of who she was. She also pointed out that at a time when so much is happening in the country, Taslima is concerned with a woman’s attire.
On being asked how Rahman reacted to such comments about his daughter, he said, “I don’t react at all.”
He added that it's good when children are brought up in a way where they know their family’s troubles, and that they have to inherit the good and bad. “And then they are given free will and then she did it."
He reiterated what Khatija made clear in her response to Taslima, that wearing the veil was her choice. He even said that though men are not supposed to wear a burkha, he would if he had the choice as it would make it easier for him to shop and roam around. “I think she finds her freedom there," he said.
Rahman also spoke about how he became a producer, and his plans for directing, and the world opening up to him after Slumdog Millionaire.
Watch the interview here.