Celebrated composer A R Rahman says there was a phase in his life when he felt like a failure and thought about ending his life almost every day. He dwells on hard times in his life in Notes of a Dream: The Authorized Biography of AR Rahman. Written by Krishna Trilok, the biography was launched in Mumbai.
Rahman was nine when his father, R K Shekhar, who was a film composer, passed away and the family had to rent out his musical equipment to get by. ARR, thus, took to music at a very young age. “I finished everything between the age of 12 and 22. It was boring for me to do all the normal stuff. I didn’t want to do it,” he tells PTI in an interview.
The initial lows eventually helped him emerge braver. “Up until 25, I used to think about suicide. When I lost my father, there was this void. But that, in a way, made me more fearless... Since everything created has an expiry date, why be afraid of anything? Most of us feel we are not good enough,” Rahman says.
The turnaround for the 51-year-old composer came when he built his recording studio, Panchathan Record Inn, in his backyard in Chennai. “Before that, things were dormant; so maybe it (the feeling) manifested. Due to my father’s death and the way he was working, I didn’t do many films. I got 35 offers and I picked two. Everyone wondered how I would survive. ‘You have everything, grab it,’ they told me. I was 25 then. But I couldn’t do that. It’s like eating everything; you become numb. So even if you eat small meals, you want to make it fulfilling,” he adds.
In his 20s, before he made his debut as a composer with Mani Ratnam’s Roja (1992), Rahman, along with his family, embraced Sufi Islam. He reinvented himself by letting go of not only the baggage from the past, but also his birth name - Dileep Kumar, which he says, he despised. “I never liked my original name. 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.”