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Scripts that came to A.R Rahman were secondary

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Scripts that came to A.R Rahman were secondary
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Mumbai, Dec 19, 2017: Grammy and Oscar winning composer A.R Rahman says that in the last few years, he had not been offered many musical scripts where he could project his magic. He says his upcoming film “99 Songs” will be the answer to several questions.

Since the 1990s, Rahman has delivered hit songs like “Hamma hamma”, “Rangeela re”, “Chaiyya chaiyya” and “Jai ho”.

But if we look at some of his latest compositions, some believe that he has missed out in keeping the ‘Rahman magic’ alive.

Asked if he could find out the missing link in his latest work, Rahman told IANS here: “It also depends on what the director wants to do, like the problem that I dealt with in the last few years was that. All the films that came to me were different, where music was secondary.”

“The kind of music that you are talking about needs a certain conviction. Are they (filmmakers) coming to me with enough of that, to create good musical stories?”

He said that his upcoming production “99 Songs” would be the answer to the questions being raised. “The questions that you are asking, about me not being able to create such magic, the fact is, those kind of scripts are not coming anymore,” he added.

On producing films, he said: “There is a reason why we put so much effort to set out our production company. From here, I want to make musical stories and celebrate music ideas. So yes, in a way, in the last 25 years, my life has changed — from being a music composer to a visionary, from a writer to producer and film director,” said the artiste, who has earned the title ‘Mozart of Madras’.

The musician is currently performing in different Indian cities for his live gig A.R. Rahman Encore — The Concert in association with MTV, which celebrates 25 years of his journey as a composer.

Asked to choose his favourites, he said: “Choosing five songs is tough. I would say ‘Humma humma’, ‘Tu hi re’, ‘Maa tujhe salaam’, ‘Chaiyya chaiyya’, ‘Khwaja mere Khwaja’, but there are more.”

Which one is the closest reflection of his personality?

“I think all my compositions are the reflection of my personality and I am the combination of everything. I am funny, light-hearted when I spend time with family. And then there are times when I get into the zone of spirituality. I think such emotions and moods are there in all of us. At times, music takes us to different zones too,” he said.

Rahman has created compositions for filmmaker Ashutosh Gowariker’s movies — “Lagaan”, “Swades” and “Jodhaa Akbar”, but failed to impress his fans with his last work in “Mohenjo Daro”.

“That story goes beyond our civilisation, to an era where we do not know that well about how the music was. And if you look at the story, it has got so many things happening in it. It was not a ‘Lagaan’ where the picture was clear. In ‘Mohenjo Daro’, Ashu tried something different. At least, we should appreciate that,” said the music maestro. (IANS)

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Afghan Orchestra Flourishes Despite Social Issues

Afghanistan and Pakistan have experienced years of terrorist attacks, including massive casualties on both sides of their long shared border.

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Afghanistan
Negin Khpolwak, leader of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, practices on a piano at Afghanistan's National Institute of Music, in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

The consequences of Afghanistan’s increasingly deadly war are weighing heaviest on the nation’s civilians, with women bearing the brunt of the violence. The Taliban banned music and girls education, and restricted outdoor activities of women when the group was controlling most of Afghanistan.

But violence and social pressures have not deterred members of the country’s nascent orchestra of mostly young girls from using music to “heal wounds” and promote women’s rights in the strictly conservative Muslim society.

The ensemble, known as Zohra, was founded in 2014 as part of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) in Kabul, where suicide bombings lately have become routine.

Hope and music

Students and trainers are not losing hope and regularly come to the city’s only institute to rehearse and learn new lessons, says Ahmed Naser Sarmast, the director of ANIM and the founder of the orchestra. Zohra is the name of a music goddess in Persian literature, he explained.

The musicologist spoke to VOA while visiting neighboring Pakistan earlier this month with the young ensemble to perform in Islamabad as part of celebrations marking the 99th anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day. Kabul’s embassy in Islamabad organized and arranged for the orchestra’s first visit to Pakistan.

Despite the many challenges in Afghanistan, Sarmast said, student enrollment has consistently grown and more parents are bringing their children to the institute to study music. Around 300 students are studying not only music at the institute but other subjects, including the Quran, he said.

Afghanistan
Members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, attend a rehearsal at Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music, in Kabul. VOA

Advances for women

Negin Khpolwak, the orchestra’s first woman conductor, says Afghanistan has made significant advances in terms of promoting women’s rights in the past 17 years. She says there is a need to sustain the momentum irrespective of rising violence.

“We need to stand up to protect those gains and we need to open the doors for other Afghan girls,” Khpolwak said when asked whether deadly attacks around the country are reversing the gains women have made.

But violence alone is not the only challenge for women and girls, especially those who want to study music, she said.

“When you are going in the street with your instrument to the school and they are saying bad words to you and if you are giving a concert in public they are telling the bad words to you. But we are not caring about it,” Khpolwak said.

Afghanistan
Ahmad Naser Sarmast, head of Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music, speaks to members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

Ethnic groups help each other

Sarmast says that girls and boys in the orchestra come from different Afghan ethnic groups and they help each other when needed.

“It’s hope for the future,” he said.

Ethnic rivalries have been a hallmark of hostilities in Afghanistan and continue to pose a challenge to efforts promoting peace and stability.

“I strongly believe without arts and culture there cannot be security and we are using the soft power of music to make a small contribution to bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and at the same time using this beautiful, if I can call it a beautiful weapon, to transform our community,” the director said.

Some of the members of the Afghan orchestra were born and brought up in refugee camps in Pakistan, which still hosts around 3 million registered and unregistered Afghan families displaced by years of war, poverty, persecution and drought.

Afghanistan
Members of the Zohra orchestra, an ensemble of 35 women, bring instruments to a class before a rehearsal at Afghanistan’s National Institute of Music, in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“We are using the healing power of music to look after the wounds of the Afghan people as well as the Pakistani people. We are here with the message of peace, brotherhood and freedom,” Sarmast said.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have experienced years of terrorist attacks, including massive casualties on both sides of their long shared border. Bilateral relations are marred by mistrust and suspicion.

Also Read: OrchKids- Bringing Jot to Underprivileged Kids Through Music

The countries blame each other for supporting terrorist attacks. Afghans allege that sanctuaries in Pakistan have enabled Taliban insurgents to sustain and expand their violent acts inside Afghanistan. Pakistan rejects the charges.

The Islamist insurgency controls or is attempting to control nearly half of Afghanistan. (VOA)