The life of top composer A.R. Rahman
Allah Rakkha Rahman, better known as A.R. Rahman, was born in Chennai, India on January 6, 1966. Hugely successful in his native country, the composer's star is fast rising in the West, thanks to the huge amount of critical acclaim, not to mention awards, that he has gained for his musical score for hit movie Slumdog Millionaire.
The composer was triumphant at the 81st Academy Awards in February, scooping the Oscar for Best Original Score and Best Song for Jai Ho. The feat means Rahman is the first Indian to win two Academy Awards and the first Indian musician to win an Academy Award.
The news of Rahman's triumph at the Oscars delighted people across India, with many taking to the streets and holding parties to celebrate his success. These school children in Chennai wore masks and carried a poster of the composer after news of the win spread across the country.
Rahman was born into a musically affluent family and started playing the piano at a very young age. His father, R K Shekhar was a composer, arranger and conductor for Malayalam movies who died when he was 9-years-old. In order to make ends meet, the family would rent out musical equipment, before Rahman joined noted composer Ilayaraja's troupe as a keyboardist and computer programmer.
After working with several renowned composers like Ilayaraja, Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy, Zakir Hussain and L Shankar, he set out on his own to compose jingles and scores for popular Indian television features. He also obtained a degree in western classical music from the Trinity College of Music, London and went on to set up his own in-house studio.
Rahman began making musical scores in the early 90s, and has since composed the soundtrack for more than 50 Bollywood movies. Rahman has sold 200 million albums so far, more than the sales of Madonna and Britney Spears combined.
As well as Slumdog Millionaire, Rahman has also composed the music for notable movies including his first movie score for Roja, which was listed in TIME magazine's Top 10 Movie Soundtracks of All Time poll in 2005. Other famous movies he has worked on include Tamil films Alaipayuthey and Kandukondein Kandukondein and Hindi movies Dil Se and Lagaan.
In 2002, he composed his first stage production titled Bombay Dreams, after receiving a commission from musical theatre supremo Andrew Lloyd Webber. His most recent theatre work was for the stage adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings, which premiered in Canada in 2006 and in London in 2007.
The gifted musician has wowed crowds in the UAE with two notable performances. The latest took place in April of last year, with over 30,000 people packing the Sharjah Cricket Stadium in what has been claimed as one of the biggest music concerts ever seen in the country. He also performed in 2003 to a similarly rapturous crowd.
As well as selling millions of records, Rahman is also no stranger to winning awards. In January, he became the first Indian national to win a Golden Globe, for the score to Slumdog Millionaire.
Rahman is pictured here with his best composer gong at the 14th Annual Critics' Choice Awards. Further to this, he has received the Rajat Kamal award for Best Music Director at the National Film Awards a total of four times.
Rahman is married to Saira Banu and the couple have three children. He converted to Islam from Hinduism in 1989 along with his family. Outside of music, he is involved in various charitable causes including Save the Children, and in 2004 was appointed as the Global Ambassador of the Stop TB Partnership, a project by the World Health Organisation (WHO).