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AR Rahman’s birthday is celebrated. Sita Ramam composer Vishal Chandrashekhar discusses what makes the legendary musician a wonderful teacher

The talent of AR Rahman as a singer and musician is well-known but the legendary composer does not boast about his mentor and philanthropic aspect. Sita Ramam composer Vishal Chandrashekhar who was a former student at the legendary AR Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory shares the unexplored aspects of the legend in music.

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What can you do with someone about who everything has already been written? What new information can be discovered about someone whose life has been discussed and weighed into every tiny particular? What should you do when all the undiscovered facts about him are now the norm? What else could you have to say regarding AR Rahman What else hasn’t already been said? There are lots. The sly, era-defining artist has been giving back to the world as well at the age of 56 we uncovered some fresh perspectives in our conversation with Vishal Chandrashekhar, the composer of brilliant albums such as Sita Ramam Jil Jung Jak who happens to also be a student at AR Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory.

Vishal Chandrashekhar was one of the initial cohorts of the conservatory which was established in the year 2008. Before he was an instructor at AR Rahman, Vishal had composed songs and he was a part of the course for one year to increase his knowledge of music. “AR Rahman taught me as my instructor. He created a wonderful environment and a great faculty for students to excel… with regard to music theory and everything else. KM is a school where you can have students who are of varying levels of abilities. While I was composing music, my time as a student at KM helped me develop my skills.”

One of the highlights of his life was when Vishal presented his research findings to Rahman and Rahman, according to Vishal. “This was right after I completed my graduation from KM. While I was doing my research I realized how well Rahman organized the course, as it helped me with the work I was doing. So, when I emailed him a note explaining what I’d completed at 11.50 at night, he responded with a ‘good’ message in the time of 11.55 at night… in just five minutes. The most important thing was that his gesture was memorable because everything he did was his method to give back to society.” Vishal fondly cherishes the reply to this day. 

If asked to explain the conservatory as AR Rahman’s way to give back to society’ Vishal Chandrashekhar said, “See, it is something nobody could ever imagine doing. For instance, I am recording with many violinists. All of them are over the age of 45. As musicians, we’ve discovered that the current generation of musicians is gradually disappearing. What KM is doing through KM is that has brought an abundance of children who need music savvy and gives them free lessons. Few people are aware of it. I have proof since I’ve been there.”

He continues, “We won’t feel the consequences of all this right now. But, 10 years from now… we’ll recognize it. He has created an orchestra that could provide international fights similar to the Macedonian or Budapest orchestra. I’ve had the pleasure of making recordings in Budapest and Chennai for Sita Ramam. There is a vast gap in understanding the music we listen to and the people of theirs. Rahman is working to bridge that gap by bringing in new talent who is well-suited not only to Indian music but also to Western music as well. Rahman has already provided numerous opportunities for musicians in this country and now, after 10 years, you will observe more of what he’s been doing for the past decade.”
In closing, Vishal says, “We believe that Ilaiyaraaja, as well as AR Rahman, are all like the ocean. However, from my research and my working experience, they’re similar to the ocean. There’s that is more about their songs than what we have heard.”



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