(Written by Aishwarya)
I think I’ve been listening to Rahman’s music forever. There are old home videos where Telephone Manipol plays in the background at a birthday party. There was a time my friends and I choreographed dance moves to Chaiyya Chaiyya when Dil Se came out. Once Sangamam released, I remember dad being enthralled by Shankar Mahadevan’s voice in Varaga Nadhikarai. I repeatedly danced to songs from Lagaan in school. But it wasn’t until years later when I started to take a special interest in Rahman’s music, and eventually music in general.
As an impressionable 12 year old, the Boys album changed my life (about which I have written on the blog with a cheesy title). I went through Rahman’s entire discography one by one between August and December 2003. Dad bought me a CD burner, and I used it to burn the songs of Enakku 20 Unakku 18 on it. I am sure I still have the CD somewhere. When Kangalal Kaidhu Sei released in early 2004, I remember my distinct disappointment. It was a Saturday morning, and I was home listening to the songs on Oosai.com. I thought, “What are these songs….I DON’T LIKE THIS.” I eventually changed my mind.
I welcomed my teenage years with Aayitha Ezhuthu. Before the official launch, I obsessively listened to little snippets that were leaked online. I visited the movie’s official website every day. I had never been more excited about anything, and I have never felt that kind of excitement again either. When the album released, I lost my mind. I had cassettes of the album that I would play every night before I fell asleep. One day Yaakai Thiri was my favourite. The next day it was Dol Dol. On Tamil New Year the same year, I sat in front of the tv to watch a Rahman interview even though I had a final exam the following day. He played this amazing version of Jana Gana Mana. There was another interview with actor Vikram that year in which he was asked what songs he was listening to at the moment. Vikram said he was listening to Nenjam Ellam and that he loved the album. That made me ECSTATIC.
I spent my adolescence listening to Mangal Pandey during power outages, playing Swades on my grandfather’s cassette player, watching the RDB title track everytime it was on tv (which was once very hour), memorizing the lyrics to Machakari with my sister, trying to understand what was going on in the Sivaji soundtrack and so on. Also, I must confess that I gave Dil Gira Dafatan a serious listen only after Amit Trivedi mentioned it in one of his interviews. Thanks AT.
My anticipation for Rahman’s albums is different today. The manic energy is replaced by a mixture of nervousness and curiosity. I put the album on loop, and more often than not, I am left exclaiming, “Ah! Vintage Rahman!”
Happy Birthday to the man whose music has constantly given me company, challenged me and opened me up to a world of possibilities, and given me something to look forward to every few months. Rahman’s music also still makes me want to stop everything I am doing when Humma Humma is on.
(My sister and me)