Jan 15, 2008

Kick starting Chennai trip with a bang!

As I walked amidst the crowds in Terminal B of Newark Liberty International Airport, I started to feel sleepy mentally preparing myself for the prolonged transit time at the Airport before my next Jet Airways flight to Chennai. It was then that I saw this guy sitting at a table furiously typing away in his Blackberry phone. I was afraid that I was mistaken. Surely it couldn’t be him. So I did some rounds around the table he was sitting in, taking in his face from all sides to confirm, and indeed it was him! A.R. Rahman!!

I wanted to go and talk to him but he appeared busy. So I put my bags in the table next to him and was pondering for a few minutes. Then finally I made up my mind and went to him. It was a true “pepsi ungal choice” moment. “Helloo, Rahman saaraa?? Ennala nambave mudila saar, naa ramba sandhoshamaa iruken!!!” (Ok, it is an exaggeration but you got the drift). So here I was speechless. I said ‘hello’ and he smiled back and said ‘hello how are you’. And then I asked the dumb question of the day,’ what are you doing here?’ (Ok, you meet Rahman like this and try starting a conversation). He said “I am going to Atlanta for a meeting and what about you’. I told him about my trip to Chennai. And then some random guy came and also started questioning. Rahman was a bit flustered and this guy immediately asked him if he can take a photo with him. R said 2 mins later even as he was furiously typing something in his Blackberry. I took the cue and told him that it was nice to meet him and went and sat in another table.

After a few minutes Rahman himself came to me and told me that he is going to find some lunch and if I would join him!! I was more than happy. I bought pizza. Rahman said he hates pizzas so much so that he would puke at the sight of it. Moreover he wanted to avoid non vegetarian food as it is the ten day period of Muharram and so he got a salad bowl. I joined him in his table at the food court. It seems he had come to Newark in Jet Airways and so I asked him about the flight as I was traveling in Jet for the first time. Basically I was trying to keep a conversation going as I was too thrilled.

He was going to Atlanta for a meeting. He talked about his plans to start a ‘music conservatory’ in Pallavaram, something akin to a musical college, specializing in Western Classical music and is hoping to rope in some faculty for that. I was surprised about the genre of music and I asked him why Western Classical music as it is not quite popular in India, to which he replied that precisely that is the reason for it to be the focus for the school. He explained a bit to me about Western Classical music and how many composers had drawn inspirations from it including Ilayaraja, MS Viswanathan and himself.

Then the topic shifted to some of his works and I asked him the question which I always had regarding music composing. My doubt was whether the lyricist and the music composer sit together while making a song. He clarified that mostly nowadays it is the tune that is made first and then the lyricists come up with lyrics that suit the tune but sometimes it might be the other way too.

At this time four Sri Lankans came to Rahman and one of them asked him, “Sir, are you AR Rahman?” Rahman was amused and he replied in the affirmative. They were obviously happy and expressed the sentiment to him. They also smiled at me and wished me probably thinking that I am some close associate of Rahman (felt full pride at this moment however worst you think it is). They requested him to stand for photos with them and he acceded. After the end of the photo session he asked me if I would be around for some time as he wanted to go to the restroom to freshen up. He left his laptop bag and phone with me and came back in a few minutes.

He then inquired about me. He was interested in knowing about the job prospects of students who complete their degrees here. On knowing that I studied in Ohio, he said that he came to Cincinnati once for a show and that he liked Ohio very much. I then told him that I had been to his show in Chicago and complimented him on that. According to him it was a logistics nightmare performing on a place on one day and then taking a flight and going to another city to perform again. But he said he is a bit used to it now and moreover seeing people dance especially to Tamil songs energized him. He asked me what my age is and when I told him he smiled and said,” that is half my age”. He also cautioned me on the ‘big, bad world’ I would be in now that I am going to start working soon.

He asked me if there was wireless internet available in the lounge we were in. I told him that I already tried for the access and saw that it was not free and it requires some login. He stated taking out his laptop but then put it back inside and surfed the net using his Blackberry. I think he came across some news item about the new Tata Nano because he commented on how the new Tata Nano is revolutionizing the market. I opined that it would also clog the roads now. He agreed and said how Chennai traffic is at its worst and he is not even able to come out of his house nowadays.

I asked him about the news that Rajini is doing Robot with Shankar and he did confirm it. I said when are you starting the work and with a smile he replied “It has already started”.

It was then time for him to board his flight. I asked him if I can take come photos with him too and he obliged. He then said goodbye and went away. Two hours with AR Rahman! Man, if that isn’t luck….

P.S. My luck streak continued in the flight and I got seats in rows in which there were no other occupants! There were few others who got seats in such rows and we all comfortably stretched out in the seats for sleeping like a train berth! :)


Naveen,  January 15, 2008 at 3:43:00 PM EST  

Awesome daa.. nadathu nee.. But one thing. I guess u misunderstood why he smiled and said you are half his age.. :P

trv January 15, 2008 at 6:10:00 PM EST  

kalakare chandru!!! yogam dhan po.. same comment like naveen :))

sreekrishnanv January 15, 2008 at 10:35:00 PM EST  

came here thru friend of mine ... Amazing Sir ... you just got your stars in the right place ..wish i meet him some time in California like this !!

deepak January 15, 2008 at 11:58:00 PM EST  

gonqu noruku nee..apdiyae paada oru chance kedaikumaanu kaelu da :D

Filarial January 16, 2008 at 12:02:00 AM EST  

machaan clearly photoshop da the vedio analysis from angle two clearlys asys that... !..:D

Suraj January 16, 2008 at 3:20:00 PM EST  

dei gonq, don't u ever again say u r unlucky with things... this one overrides every other misfortune :)

Santhosh C January 17, 2008 at 12:31:00 PM EST  

@ naveen, trv: u r all jealous because donkey herding boy had this much luck :D

@sreekrishnav: Ya I guess you are right about the stars

@ dpk: machaan guess who is singing title song for Robot =))

@ prashanth & suraj: hehe

Arun January 17, 2008 at 4:52:00 PM EST  

You met AR Rahman...My goodness...Did you touch him...is he human?? kalakku machi..

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