Happy Birthday AR Rahman: Memories of a devoted student, Abhay Jodhpurkar

Born as AS Dileep Kumarmusic maestro AR Rahman created music for every mood, be it the romantic songs like Kehna Hi Kya from Bombay, Yeh Haseen Waadiyaan from Roja, or the very aggressive Muqqabla from Nagma, or the Sufi song Kun Faya Kun from Rockstar – his discography never ceases to amaze us.

Lovingly called ‘The Mozart Of Madras’, Rahman turns 52 today, and the entire music industry is pouring in their love and gratitude to the man who inspired many to pursue music. One among those many music composers and singers, is Abhay Jodhpurkar, whose Bollywood debut ‘Mere Naam Tu’ from SRK-starrer Zero broke the internet a couple of months back. What could be more exciting than learning about a living legend from one of his students?

“I grew up listening to Rahman’s sir’s songs from Roja… Interesting fact, the film released the same year I was born on. So, his career is as old as me!” laughs Abhay who was launched by the maestro himself in Chennai through the Tamil song Moongil Thottam in Mani Ratnam’s Kadal in 2013.

It was during his time in Chennai, that he enrolled in KM Music Conservatory to learn Sufi music. AR Rahman spotted him during a function where he got a chance to sing a solo line in a qawwali. The college goer was over the moon, surprised and shocked when he got a call form Rahman’s office months later.

Recalling their first meeting Abhay says, “It was so surreal… When I got the call, I was like ‘Whaaat! He heard me? How does he remember me?’ I was surprised and shocked at the same time. So when I met him at the studio he asked me several questions. And then he mentioned this bald singer who sung a particular line at the Annual Day at KM Music Conservatory… (He remembered the line!) So I said, ‘That was me sir, that time I had shaven off my head, now my hair has grown back!’ We started off on a funny note.”

“When it comes to recording, Rahman sir gives you your sweet time, and he never pressurised me during my first recording. But later, when I heard the recording after it was all done, I couldn’t believe it was my voice, I did not know I was capable of singing so well. It is Rahman sir’s magic that brings out the best in a singer. When the song Moongil Thottam came out in 2013, it changed my life. The reason why I am here today is because Rahman sir launched me,” expressed the young singer smitten by Rahman’s works

“Every session with him has been thought provoking and inspiring; He taught me that you have to upgrade yourself always, and you have to find your own sound. If you want longevity you need to have uniqueness…” shared Abhay.

Talking about a very unknown side of AR Rahman, Abhay says, “Rahman sir is such a goofy person — at times in the studio, he cracks lame jokes and starts laughing very loudly. And at that stage you’d feel awkward not knowing whether to laugh. The child in him comes out very often, in studios, because he feels at home. Very few people know that side of him; although he is known to be a shy person he can be very outspoken in the studio. That’s the Rahman sir I love.”

“There have been times when he has been very strict with me also, because he expects a certain kind of delivery from me. I feel good that he treats me like his own son. More than my mentor, he is like family. During my stay in Chennai, Panchathan (AR Rahman’s studio) had become my second home,” reminisced Abhay.

Abhay is currently working on a trilingual single he has composed himself, and has some Bollywood songs lined up for release in near future.


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