Today, the most renowned singer and music composer A.R. Rahman turns 54. The versatile musician has composed music for several Bollywood, Hollywood and Tollywood movies.  

AR Rahman has received India’s third-highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan award, six National Film Awards, two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, fifteen Filmfare Awards and seventeen Filmfare Awards South. 

He is also known by the nicknames “Isai Puyal” and “Mozart of Madras”. 

On this special day, know some interesting things about AR Rahman.

Personal life

Allahrakha Rahman was born on 6 January 1967 in a Hindu family and was named Dilip Kumar. AR Rahman’s father RK Shekhar was also a musician and worked as a film-score composer in Tamil and Malayalam films. Unfortunately, AR Rahman’s father died when he was nine years old. After his father’s death, Rahman had to sell musical instruments to run the house. 

Rahman was looked after by his mother Karima (Kasturi). To support his family, Rahman started working from the age of 11 due to which he was not able to attend his classes and failed in exams. Rahman’s mother told him to focus on academics and later Rahman joined Madras Christian College Higher Secondary School, where he formed a music band with his classmates. However, he dropped out of school to pursue a career as a full-time musician and took musical training from Master Dhanraj. He mastered the keyboard, piano, synthesiser, harmonium and guitar and founded a rock group Nemesis Avenue in Chennai. 

Rahman started working with several music composers such as M. K. Arjunan, M. S. Viswanathan, Vijaya Bhaskar, Ramesh Naidu, Hamsalekha and many more. 

 He also got the golden opportunity to accompany Zakir Hussain, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan and L. Shankar on world tours. He also got a scholarship from Trinity College of Music, London. 

In 1995, AR Rahman got married to Saira Banu. Now, they have three children- Khatija, Rahima and Ameen. 

Why AR Rahman embraced Islam?

In 1984, Rahman met Qadiri tariqa when his sister was seriously ill. Shortly after meeting Qadri,  Rahman and his mother decided to follow spiritually path and embraced Sufi Islam. In 1989, Rahman and his family members converted to Islam. At the age of 23, Rahman changing his name from Dilip Kumar to Allahrakha Rahman. 

How has Rahman gained fame in his career?

At the starting of his career, Rahman composed jingles for some advertisements including Allwyn and Titan Watches. Rahman’s film career began in 1992, when got a break to compose the score and soundtrack for a Tamil film, Roja. For which, Rahman received the best music director award at the National Film Awards. 

After which, Rahman started an advanced recording and mixing studio, Panchathan Record Inn. Rahman also launched the most cutting-edge studio AM Studios in 2005 and his own music label, KM Music, in 2006. 

Rahman got his first international break to compose the music of Broadway musical ‘Bombay Dreams’ which brought him immense fame. 

Since then, he has given great music for hundreds of Bollywood films like ‘Rangeela’, ‘Taal’, ‘Dil Se’, ‘Jodha Akbar’ ‘Rang De Basanti’ and ‘Rockstar’. 

AR Rahman has received several awards:

  • In 2006, he was honored by Stanford University for his contributions to global music. 
  • Rahman received the BMI Award for Best Score for his first Hollywood film, the comedy Couples Retreat, 2009. 
  • Rahman received two Oscars for the film ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ in 2009. 
  • He was awarded for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for the film song ‘Jai Ho’. 
  • In 2009, Rahman was included in the list of 100 most influential people of the world. 
  • In 2010, he received the Grammy Awards for the Best Compilation Soundtrack Album and Best Song Written for Visual Media. 
  • In 2018, Rahman received a national award for the background score of Mom. 

Rahman is also involved in donating and raising money for a number of charitable causes.  In 2004 he was appointed as the global ambassador of a WHO project, the Stop TB Partnership. Rahman has also supported Save the Children India.