The man best known around the world for his Oscar-winning “Jai Ho” is hoping to have everyone singing along to his Commonwealth Games anthem by the time it’s performed at the opening ceremony Oct. 3.
“Jiyo, Utho, Bado, Jeeto” (Live, Rise, Ascend, Win), also known as “Swagatham” (Welcome), was released on Aug. 28 to mixed reviews. The Times of India quotes organizing committee member Vijaykumar Malhotra as saying, “We expected a better song from Rahman.” Anonymous reviews on Youtube and various music-sharing sites vary from love to hate.
Mr. Rahman called it “simple but not simplistic” in an Aug. 16 press conference.
The song starts out fairly slow, harmonizing with back-up singers, with this call: Oh Yaaron! Yeh India, Bulaa Liya (Oh Friends! India has called you). Then the song transitions, sometimes a little choppily, between rock-and-roll and soft rock, with a bit of Bollywood flair mixed in. It might not gain as much acclaim as Slumdog Millionaire’s “Jai Ho,” but after listening to it a few times, the melody is stuck in my head. More:
Could there be more global hits like “Jai Ho” in the future? Universal Music thinks so. “Jai Ho,” the Academy Award-winning song written by the Indian composer A. R. Rahman for “Slumdog Millionaire” (2008), raced up pop charts worldwide as its catchy dance beat shimmied across borders with ease. And Universal, the largest of the four major record companies, believes that Western audiences might have an appetite for more music with an Indian flavor.
Universal says it has agreed to team with Desi Hits!, a company that promotes South Asian entertainment on desihits.com, to create a label for musicians from India or with South Asian roots. The goal is to reach a global audience.
“There’s a huge amount of amount of opportunity, given that it’s relatively untapped,” said David Joseph, chief executive of Universal Music U.K., referring to South Asian pop music. “It’s far from a vanity project for us.”
Anjula Acharia-Bath, chief executive of Desi Hits!, which is based in New York, said the new label, called Desi Hits! Universal, is going “to give this genre a home.” More:
With scores of dancers moving in unison atop trains, singing amid ancient ruins and running across cricket fields, the average Bollywood production is a grand spectacle.
Taking such a show on the road would seem to require significant downsizing. Not for A.R. Rahman, who garnered worldwide exposure with his Academy Award-winning score to “Slumdog Millionaire.”
The Indian film composer is trying to orchestrate his own rise to international stardom by making his production even bigger to dazzle audiences in massive concert venues across the Western Hemisphere with elaborate stage shows teeming with dancers, acrobats and high-tech lighting.
The tour begins June 11 at New York’s Nassau Coliseum and wends through North America and Europe before ending at London’s Wembley Stadium in late July, with ticket prices for the roughly three-hour-long shows ranging from $45 to $1,000.
Through the concerts, Rahman is attempting something many performers from outside the English-speaking world have tried and failed to do: transcend a regional, ethnic niche and become an international mainstream superstar. More:
Slumdog Millionaire, Danny Boyle’s adaptation of Vikas Swarup’s novel, Q&A, set in Mumbai, sweeps the Oscars with eight awards including best picture and best director. Music maestro A.R. Rahman scores a double win (best original score and best original song for Jai Ho along with Gulzar). And Resul Pookutty takes home a statue for best sound. “In 80 years of Academy history no Indian technician has been nominated for an Oscar. I’m the first to be nominated, and the first to win,” he is quoted saying backstage by BBC.
A.R. Rahman, the prolific Indian film composer behind the “Slumdog Millionaire” score, has been nominated for three Academy Awards. From The New York Times:
A. R. Rahman knows how big a deal it would be if he wins an Oscar on Sunday.
One of the most prolific and successful film composers in India, he has three nominations, all for “Slumdog Millionaire”: best original score and best original song, for both “Jai Ho” and “O … Saya,” a collaboration with the Sri Lankan-British rapper M.I.A. (The film, by Danny Boyle, has 10 nominations, and last month Mr. Rahman won a Golden Globe for best score.)
“It would be a great honor,” Mr. Rahman said with characteristic diffidence in a phone interview this week from Los Angeles, where he was preparing to perform at the ceremony. “It would help me to do bigger things.”
In Hindustan Times, Sudha G Tilak recalls an early meeting with a painfully shy musician called Dilip. Several meetings later, A.R. Rehman, as Dilip went on to become, has landed a Golden Globe for Slumdog Millionaire and is easily one of India’s most versatile musicians.
It was in 1992 when I first met A.R. Rahman, then known as Dilip. One afternoon, after managing to fix an appointment, I reached Panchathan Recording Studio near Kodambakkam, the hub of Tamil cinema and studios. After a chat with his assistant Noel, I was ushered into a recording chamber to meet Rahman, then only 25. He was sitting behind a recording console that had 16 tracks, digital mastering stations and computerised soundtracks. “All that I earn goes back into this,” he said proudly. It wasn’t out yet that he had just completed his first feature film, Roja. Before he hit the big league with it, he had composed ad tracks for Boost, Usha Lexus and Pepsi. I found him pleasant but painfully shy; he even refused to be photographed.