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A. R. Rahman’s 3rd Dimension Tour Postponed to June 23, 2007

May 2007
A. R.  Rahman’s 3rd Dimension Tour Postponed to June 23, 2007

The man who has added so many dimensions to Indian film music, will introduce his fans to another one when he performs in Atlanta on June 23rd as he kicks of his North America tour.

A.R. Rahman, considered one of the most innovative and experimental of music directors in India, will begin the 3rd Dimension tour at the Philips Arena on June 23. As the name suggests, concertgoers will be able to reach out and "touch the stars" with the help of 3D glasses. This virtual reality format will bring Atlantans one step closer to seeing their favorite singers perform. This would be as close as they can get to the performers.

Veteran promoter Mark Premji takes the credit for Rahman's first concert in Atlanta. There will be more than 70 musicians and artists including Alka Yagnik, Taal Se Taal (Taal), O Re Chori (Lagaan); Hariharan, Tu Hi Re (Bombay), Vennilavae/Chanda Re (Sapnay); Chitra, Kannalane/Kehni Hi Kya (Bombay); Sadhana Sargam, Snehithane/Chupke Se (Saathiya); Sukhwindara Singh, Chaiyya Chaiyya (Dil Se); and Madhushree, Kabhi Neem Neem/Sanda Kozhi (Yuva).

Over the years, Rahman has never disappointed either his film directors or listeners, providing a string of hits such as Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Taal, Saathiya (Alai Payuthey), Lagaan, Yuva (Ayutha Ezhuthu), Rang De Basanti and, most recently, Guru.

Rahman has trained in Carnatic music and western classical. He earned a scholarship from Trinity College in Oxford University. He started his career playing the keyboard for Illayaraja, the legendary music director of the South. He then began composing music for advertisements and television jingles at his studio, Panchathan Record Inn. But it was Mani Ratnam's Roja that turned this young artist into a musical sensation.

Rahman's success can be attributed also to his experimentation and ability to pick the right singer for every song. In the process, he has discovered new faces and relaunched many a flagging career. He is known for allowing singers to improvise. Paathshaala (Rang De Basanti) singer, Naresh Iyer, joins Sukhwindara, Madhushree, Karthik, BlaaZe and Kunal Ganjawala in the long list of artists who owe some of their success to Rahman.

If he has contributed toward building the careers of the young and talented, he has also tapped the virtuosity of veteran singers such as Lata Mangeshkar, S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, Asha Bhosle, Hariharan, Chithra and Kavita Krishnamurthy. He even called in Bappi Lahiri, well-known music director of '70s and '80s, to sing Ek Lo Ek Muft for the movie Guru.

Lagaan and Water, the two films nominated for an Oscar, had music composed by Rahman. But he has also taken Indian film music on a global level, composing songs for Andrew Lloyd Weber's musical, "Bombay Dreams." The musical was performed in Atlanta last year at the Fox Theatre.

Rahman is known to experiment with new styles of music and it is often difficult to characterize his songs since they cross several different genres from pop to folk. He has certainly proved that music can break the language barrier — having composed music for films in several Indian languages including Tamil (his mother tongue), Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi. In many of his songs, he interweaves other languages. For example, Lata Mangeshkar's Jiya Jale in Dil Se. Rahman's unique style is evident from the instrument choices to the changes in pace, rhythm and sound within a song. He loves mixing and adding special effects to many of his songs, especially the more recent ones that have more of a techno flavor to them — for example, Fanah (Yuva). Few people would realize that his hit Maya Maya (Baba) was recorded and mixed using the power of the Internet. While composing for Bombay Dreams in London, Rahman created the demo track while his singers were in India and mixed it without even meeting them.

In addition to the Bombay Dreams project, Rahman has collaborated with other international artists such as Apache Indian and Michael Jackson, with whom he worked on Ekam Satyam. He has provided his musical touch for a Hollywood movie, Provoked, which stars Aishwarya Rai.

But Rahman has created musical magic beyond films. In 1997, he released a patriotic album, Vande Mataram, to mark India's 50 years of independence. It included the hit single, Maa Tujhe Salaam.

Even though many identify Rahman's music for its techno feel, he has shown his talent is not straitjacketed by a certain sound or style. This is evident in the music he has provided for the many period films, including The Legend of Bhagat Singh ("Mera Rang De Basanti Chola), Lagaan (Ghannan Ghannan), Mangal Pandey (Holi Re) and Bose (Azaadi).

It is this musical flexibility that has drawn many of India's top filmmakers to his music. Subhash Ghai (Taal), Ashutosh Gowariker (Lagaan and Swades), Mani Ratnam (Roja, Bombay, Dil Se, Yuva, Guru), Shankar (Gentleman, Hindustani/Indian, Hum Se Hai Muqqabla/Kaadhalan, Mudhalvan/Nayak, Jeans, Boys) and Shyam Benegal (Zubeida).

Rahman has such a loyal fan base that his followers will often go for a movie solely based on the songs. Sivamani, the wildly talented percussionist on several of Rahman's songs, will also be at this year's concert. Be prepared for his rendition of Spirit of Rangeela, and you may be lucky to also hear Naveen on the flute playing the Bombay theme. Rahman's concerts are usually structured in such a way that each singer is introduced with his or her hit number, followed by a playful banter with the audience and instrumentalists and often an unplugged section, when some of the vocalists soulfully perform a ballad or duet with just Rahman on the piano.

The musical genius is already rocking the South with the latest Rajinikanth hit, Sivaji – including Balasubrahmanyam's song Balleleka. Bollywood fans, especially in Atlanta and the United States, waiting for his upcoming films — Ashutosh Gowariker's Jodhaa Akbar (Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai), Mani Ratnam's Lajjo (Aamir Khan and Kareena Kapoor) and Abbas Tyrewala's Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na, which also stars Aamir Khan — the A.R. Rahman concert should quench their musical thirst for now.

By Archith Seshadri

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