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When RBI governor talks about intolerance, world listens: Historian Aijaz Ahmad

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New Delhi: As the intolerance discussions show no sign of abating, eminent scholar and Marxist literary theorist Aijaz Ahmad has joined the debate, saying that even top echelons of the society are taking cudgels against intolerance.

“It’s not a minor matter that RBI governor is raising his voice against intolerance. These are people who never protested like that. When the RBI governor talks, people all over the world listen to what he has to say even if the central government may not,” Ahmad told IANS on the sidelines of the Indian Languages Festival, ‘Samanvaya’, here on Thursday.

Ahmad said that the voices of protest against intolerance are not limited to the society’s intelligentsia.

Earlier, delivering a lecture on the ‘Languages of a Nation’, the scholar expressed concern over the “atmosphere of fear” among artists and writers.

“A R Rahman, perhaps the most original music genius in the country, says that he too has felt threatened over the past few months. Mumbai used to be the pride of our cosmopolitan aspirations. Over the years, it has degenerated so much and the atmosphere has become charged with fear,” he said lamenting the fact that Romila Thapar, India’s most renowned historian, had to deliver her lecture under police protection.

The scholar also flayed the attacks on actor Girish Karnad.

“We now live in a strange atmosphere. Karnad, who perhaps has received more awards than any other artist in the country, had to live under police security for making an off-the-cuff remark about the naming of an airport,” he said.

Ahmad, a visiting professor at York University, Toronto, felt that there is an unprecedented response from even unexpected quarters.

“What is more striking is how widely this sense of danger is shared. This is also the first time that some of the most eminent scientists have raised their voice on the same issues and expressed their sense of concern as to where the country is headed,” he said.

Ahmad said that though he had no intentions to speak on intolerance when he was invited to the event, he was compelled to do so because of the “explosion of certain issues specifically within the world of literature and social thought in the country”.

In his speech, Ahmad also took a dig at the burgeoning numbers of literary festivals. “A new game of transnational commercial activity now straddles under the name of literary festivals. Their main function seems to be horse trading in authors and manuscripts while some sort of literary entertainment goes on in the front hall for star-struck consumers,” he said.

(Preetha Nair, IANS)

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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
Scripts that came to A.R Rahman were secondary. wikimedia commons

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)