1 Born January 6, 1967, was named Dilip Kumar

2 Father RK Sekhar was a music director and mother Kasturi (later Kareema Begum), a homemaker. Has three sisters: Kanchana (Raihanah), Balasaraswathy (Fatima) and Rekha (Izrat)

3 As a child, Dilip loved to play chess and carrom

4 Studied at Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan until Std IX, then moved to Madras Christian College. Dropped out of Class XI at MCC to pursue a career in music as the family needed the money

5 Father died when he was nine, and family had to rent Sekhar’s instruments to make ends meet

6 Drawn to music from an early age, could play many instruments, had many gurus. Learnt to play the guitar from Pilot Edwin, piano from Jacob John, Hindustani classical from Krishna Anand (briefly) and film music from Nityanandan

7 Took Trinity College of Music exams in Chennai and the then principal Gavin Anderson described Rahman as “a talent to watch out for”

8 Early in his career, he was associated with many musical troupes, including Ilayaraja’s. He worked for Telugu and Kannada films, assisting Raj-Koti, Vijay Anand and Chakravarti

9 He started composing ad jingles in 1986, the memorable ones being for Titan and Leo Coffee. A tune he composed for a leading telecom company has become the world’s most downloaded piece of music clocking 60 million hits

10 Roja’s release in 1992 made him a star. Mani Ratnam gave him the break, and AR Rahman became famous overnight

11 Although he had converted to Islam much earlier, he officially changed his name to AR Rahman only in 1992

12 With Roja ruling the charts, Time magazine hailed him as the Mozart of Madras: Rahmania had taken country by storm

13 Close on the heels of Roja’s success, USbased Indian producers of a film approached him to score music. He rejected the offer; there was a nude scene in the film and the young bachelor wanted nothing to do with it

14 Rahman bridged the gap between the Tamil and Hindi film industry. Soon enough, the rest of the world took note. Ram Gopal Varma invited him to score for ‘Rangeela’, Subhash Ghai for ‘Taal’, Ashutosh Gowarikar for ‘Lagaan’, Shekhar Kapur (‘Elizabeth II’) and Andrew Lloyd Webber
(‘Bombay Dreams’) Kareema Begum

15 spotted Saira Banu at a dargah, proposals were exchanged and one of Chennai's most eligible bachelors got married in 1995

16 The couple have three children —Khatija, Rahima and Ameen (who shares his birthday with his father). The children lead a life free of celebrity trappings — with school, family and games in the courtyard

17 Rahman’s personal space is his studio, where Carnatic, Hindustani, Arabic, Latino, European folk, Indian folk, hip hop and every other genre of sound finds space. A rural Tamil voice, a Spanish contralto or a typical American mid-West drawl — you can hear all of them here

18 His inner circle comprises his mother, wife and children

19 Professionally, he has a good rapport with everyone in the industry, although Rajiv Menon and Bharat Bala are the people whose judgment he trusts the most.

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