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AR Rahman: Contemplated suicide till 25 years-of-age; hated his original name

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AR Rahman is one of the most celebrated music composers of the country. But, before the country recognised this talent powerhouse, there was a dark phase in his life, where he felt like a failure and thought about ending his life almost every day.

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The Oscar-winning composer said that the initial low phase of his career has eventually gave him the courage and emerge braver.

In an interview to PTI, Rahman said, “Up until 25, I used to think about suicide. Most of us feel they are not good enough. Because I lost my father, there was this void… There were so many things happening. (But) that in a way made me more fearless. Death is a permanent thing for everyone. Since everything created has an expiry date, so why be afraid of anything?”

AR Rahman said in his autobiography Notes of a Dream that he was suicidal till age 25. He braced Sufi Islam in his 20's and hated his original name
AR Rahman said in his autobiography Notes of a Dream that he was suicidal till age 25. He braced Sufi Islam in his 20’s and hated his original name

Things started turning around for the 51-year-old composer when he built his own recording studio Panchathan Record Inn, in his hometown Chennai.

He added, “Before that, things were dormant so may be it (the feeling) manifested then. Because of my father’s death and the way he was working, I didn’t do many movies. I got 35 movies and I did two. Everyone wondered ‘How are you going to survive? You have everything, grab it.’ I was 25 then. I couldn’t do that. It’s like eating everything. You become numb. So even if you eat small meals, make it fulfilling,” he adds.

At the young age of nine, AR Rahman’s father RK Shekhar, who was film-score composer, passed away. The family had to rent out his musical equipment to have decent life. Circumstances forced Rahman, to take music at a very young age.

While he was in his 20s, Rahman along with his family embraced Sufi Islam, before he made his debut as a composer with Mani Ratnam’s Roja (1992). With this change, he reinvented himself. He let go not only the baggage from the past, but also his birth name – Dileep Kumar, which he says, he despised. He was christened as Allahrakka Rahman (AR Rahman)

AR Rahman at the launch of 'Notes of a Dream'
AR Rahman at the launch of ‘Notes of a Dream’

Adding to this he said, “I finished everything between the age of 12 to 22. It was boring for me to do all the normal stuff. I didn’t want to do it. I never liked my original name Dileep Kumar. I don’t even know why I hated it. I felt it didn’t match my personality. I wanted to become another person. I felt like that would define and change my whole (being). I wanted to get rid of all the past luggage.”

Rahman shot to fame as the wonder kid in the industry with Mani Ratnam’s Roja. People started regarding him as who changed the grammar of music and sounds. But according to him, creating music is not a lonely process for the musician as much as it is ‘internal’.

He stated, “You manifest who you are and let it out. So when you are ideating on your mental drawing book, you need a lot of self-analysis and you have to dive deep within you. You need to listen to yourself. It’s hard to listen to your inner side. But once you do, you have to let lose and forget yourself.”

Rahman asserted that it is for these reasons, that he works only during late nights or early mornings.

“If I am going deep inside something and suddenly there’s a knock on the door, I’ll come to reality from a very different world and I won’t be able to go back to the same spot again. This is one of the reasons I prefer (being at work) very early mornings like 5 AM or 6 AM or the nights,” he said in the interview.

Rahman said that the most important thing for him while making music, is not to feel bored and constantly try doing something new; be it professionally or personally. He added, “You feel jaded if you do the same thing. You need to find different things to do. For me travelling, parenting and spending time with my family though I can’t do that much is beautiful. It helps a lot.”

Notes of a Dream: The Authorised Biography of AR Rahman. The maestro spoke about his life events through his autobiography. 

Also read: Daughters of Bollywood actors who have star potentials

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