A fan’s tale

Part 3: Meeting My Idol

One "fine" evening, my cousin calls me and requests a bike ride to a recording studio. I was busy at work, but still I asked who the Music director was, she told it was “A.R. Rahman” I had no second thoughts, took the bait, I wanted to meet him at least once.

We walk into a cozy little studio, air conditioner blasting to its maximum and I was formally introduced to as "Srikanth" "Software Engineer", I gave my business card, we shook hands and my cousin asked him if I could watch the proceedings, he smiled and said “that’s fine”.

I was very nervous but curious than the usual, my eyes scanned the surroundings. There was an 8 track spool recorder and a big mixing console with many volume control knobs. There was a vocal room with an adjustable boom microphone. And couple of keyboards in the room, I remember vaguely seeing Korg M1 or 01/w. I was quite amazed by how A.R. Rahman worked, he was operating the 8 track recorder and mix-board and he was fast like a bee, just doing all with ease. In first place, I was very surprised. A music recording would have many people surrounding the music director and he would give the music etc. I have never ever seen a music director operate the console himself with just one singer around.

With little fear and lot of amazement I stood there in the corner. Suddenly he called me to sit next to him. I never expected that I would be sitting next to the new sensation A.R. Rahman, and right in front to me was his sound mixing console.

They started rehearsing the track, all of a sudden he spoke to me, "so what language you program in [in Tamil]" and once again surprise, I never expected that, it took me few seconds to hydrate my senses, and I stuttered and replied "before anything congratulations on your recent success of Roja". For which he gave a humble simile and asked me again, what language? I replied, Turbo C, Clipper etc. He asked me how C is different from C++, I gave some technical reply and my voice sounded very tense. Hence I guess to make me comfortable, he then told me that he has friend in Canada who just look like me and speaks like me. Ya! I guess it worked, I became little more comfortable and told I am from T.Nagar and work for company called PC India and I loved his songs in Roja and looking forward for more, I also had guts to mention, I have a small midi setup etc using Cakewalk and play live on stage... He smiled and told "keep them coming", he was all the time multi tasking.

The recording was about to begin, for the first time I heard the track in full, all the channels have been powered up, I was blown away by the opening guitar prelude; later I came know it was played by Guitar Prasanna. It was mind blowing. The overall sound was new to me. I was not excepting it at all, and then suddenly SPB sings a line, from there on I was totally out of the world. It took me a lot of time to come back to my senses. Music I was hearing was something else to what I am used to. The song was unbelievable. It had Spanish guitar, fretless Bass and most of all a new Tabla sound and placement. When I heard the Cousin’s vocals, I was stunned by the quality. I have heard her sing, but not at this level. Rahman was giving her a lot of directions in a friendly manner. He had an amazing quality, he was able to say anything without hurting the singer.

About 15 minutes into the recording, I was told that director would show up and he would not like me there, I was all set to walk out. Director Suresh Menon walks in; to everyone’s surprise he permits me to be stay in the studio.

"Thanks to Anupama", my lucky day I guess, sitting near A.R.Rahman (and Suresh Menon) recording a new track “July mAtham vanthAl” for the movie pudhiya mugam . That was Anupama’s debut track. I still cherish the fact that I was among the first few to have heard the new track from A.R. Rahman after Roja. Of course, I was boasting all about it in my work place.

“It was an experience of life time”. This is where I realized making music is all about having fun. I walked out of the recording studio with a lot of memories not knowing that I would meet him again one more time during recording of another track, the track that created history and is being remembered even today.


Sridhar Seetharaman said...

Thank you for sharing. I cannot wait to hear the next episode. It was interesting to note that you compared the change in scene with 80's and 90s. Change does not have to happen just because something was boring. Beethoven was right after Mozart, both being good. In this case, may be as you put it, preceding period was bad.

krishna said...

BTW Anupama was the guest judge in airtel singer yesterday and she sang Chandralekha:mindblowing to say the least;A musically enlightened frnd of mine said that chandralekha was set in c-minor scale - carnatic equivalent natabhairavi which all MD's use to create melody hits;But ARR in his own inimitable way conjured up sheer magic thru chandrelekha..
Would like to know u'r thoughts?

Ganesh said...

Wow.....Its a dream for me to see how he works.......and how he brings up everything from his little brain and heart.......