Top positive review
One of the best books on AR Rahman
30 October 2018
This is an attempt at expressing myself about the book "Notes of a dream - The biography of A R Rahman" written by Krishna Trilok.
First of all, you need to know that my equation with A.R. Rahman is extremely personal. He might not know who I am, but I have this feeling that I know him personally. I love him. I love his music. And he has a special place in my heart. He is the man in my heart who heals me from within. With his music. With his voice. And his smile. There's practically nothing in the public domain about him that I wouldn't know about. I have read the previous two books that have been written about him. I have listened to every little piece of music (in the public domain) composed or credited to him. I have read every article or interview that is out there. I consume anything with the name A R Rahman written on it as if it was meant for me. For me alone. It is between him and me.
When Rahman won those Oscars, I got congratulatory phone calls. When Rahman came up with a so-called (in the eyes of those people) bad songs, I got the brickbats. When I scored well in my 8th std exams, my reward was the “Thiruda Thiruda” audio cassette. During my college days, we went around collecting every Rahman song on mp3 on our 4GB HDD computer. When something went wrong at the office, a Rahman song would make it right for me. A Rahman song was the background of every event of my life. Rahman is a part of my life. Sevandhu pochu nenju from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam is playing as I type this.
Hence, writing a book about the man that can impress me is a tough task. And this book by Krishna Trilok passes muster. The writer has a style. And has attention to detail. The book carefully avoids repeating what we already know in the sense that he touches upon it briefly and moves on quickly. Without lingering too much about those points. Krishna also refers to the earlier books giving you the impression that you are reading a superset of those books as well. Which while maybe the author's attempt, it isn’t really true.
“Notes of a dream” is essentially about demystifying Rahman. Who is this person we all love so much? How did he achieve this success? And how does he manage it all? Was he really lucky? How does he manage to roll out one success after the other? How does he manage to still acquire new fans? How does he stay relevant?
I can only say that the author tries his best to demystify our man. And the issue here is that there is nothing to demystify. Rahman has spoken and expressed everything he wanted to and more through his music. The goosebumps you feel when ‘Dil Se’ title song is playing is the same feeling even Mani Ratnam had when he heard it for the first time. Or when Danny Boyle heard ‘Mausam and escape’, he also felt the same as we did. That’s AR Rahman for you. He is what you see. What you see is what you get. The book makes you see that point.
Some standouts for me include:
- the way a keyboard, a mic, and a recording system is set up in the hotel room wherever Rahman visits. Rahman is living music. He is the embodiment of music. Literally. So, if you think that Taal got great music but Thakshak got a raw deal, it’s because we apply our lenses to it. For Rahman, both are expressions of his devotion to music. He has surrendered to music as an art form.
- The way Bharat Bala describes the recording of Vande Mataram song. Man, that made me cry. I sat up, played Vande Mataram on my headphones and cried along with Bharat Bala. I know how he cried now. Krishna Trilok transported us to that moment very well.
- When Sharada Trilok says, “He won us an Oscar, man! He actually won us a damn Oscar!”. I cried again. I remember how it feels when you have struggled all your life, devoted your life to music and finally the world wakes up to you. Recognizes you. And you are the first Indian to win two Oscars! Imagine you being the person who backed this person when he seemed to be nothing. And here he is, on the global stage, conquering it like it was his backyard.
- The description of his Powai house is so well done. I almost have an idea of how the house looks and feels like. Especially that cycle in the small bedroom standing in the middle of the room! LOL.
- The spirit of giving back that Rahman has. Where he keeps giving back continuously if he feels you have done something for him once.
- The lament of Andrew Lloyd Weber about how Bombay Dreams failed. But how Rahman sees it as a stepping stone to understanding Western sensibilities. And how he built on it.
- That “Enna da, onnume sollale” moment when Mani Ratnam walked out of his studio after listening to the samples he played before being chosen as the music director of Roja.
The book offers a fascinating inside view into Rahman’s world, his people, and his way of life. How he continuously challenges himself. The book focusses a lot on 99 songs and Le Musk which are upcoming feature films that Rahman has written and produced and/ or directed. The issue with that is you are not able to relate to it because you haven’t seen those movies yet. So, you are reading it like fiction. It is not lost upon you that Rahman is trying something new, but how it will pan out – the tension of whether it will work or not is shared by the author and you – the reader.
When you read a book about Rahman, you grow teary-eyed and cry frequently. You also put on the music that is being discussed at that point in time and try to continue reading. You are already in the world of Rahman through his music. The book adds another sense of understanding to his world.
Thank you, Krishna Trilok, for writing it with so much passion. I enjoyed reading it!
#ARR #arrahman #NotesOfaDream #Biography