We have here one model who has mastered excellence in his profession and brought the whole world under his feet - The Music Legend - A.R Rahman.
Is there anything common in these two youth icons of our country ? Yes, commitment to excellence is their DNA. Winning is their habit and they always perform at ' WOW '! Aiming for perfection and winning the competitive edge are the things for what they crave constantly and add them to their attitude. The next thing is performance. During any moment of the day, their performance is EXCELLENCE. Performance is their language and they understand the language of result only.
If you pick up any newspaper or see the web or watch the news these days, chances are that you will find an interview of A.R.Rahman. He is all over the place after his OSCAR achievement and he really deserves it! All of us have been seeing videos of his arrival back to India and his press conferences with excitement.
Today, A.R. Rahman is one of the world's most successful Indian musicians. With a brand name like Rahman, movies rake in millions. But it isn't just Rahman's exceptional enthusiasm that's so contagious, but also the quality and success of the work he's churning out. The man has redefined contemporary Indian music and has become an icon for millions all over the world.
Like everyone, I have known him and his music right from the time 'Roja' was released in 1992.. That’s a good 17 years! Everyone speaks of his music, and what he eats, sleeps, drinks and what he does when he is free and so on so forth. But really, there are things much beyond that one needs to know and learn from the legend that A.R.Rahman is. With so many people who speak so high of him at all times, there are some things that are unsaid and certain things that we so easily ignore about Rahman, that makes him stand apart from the clutter.
The musical genius that Rahman is, most of that comes from his being and principles. Rahman's success presents some valuable tips to us which can be applied to our professional lives and achieve our goals. And on that note, with the little that I know of him, let me share some of the learnings from A.R.Rahman.
1. Family - Respect your Parents
It might be very easy to brush this fact aside, but the truth is Rahman has always loved, respected and adored his parents. With his father R.K.Shekar leaving for heavenly abode when Rahman was nine years old, Rahman's mother Kareema Begum, gave Rahman a new ray of hope and fresh lease of life. She painfully raised the family, and is one of the driving factors of why Rahman is a legend today.
Remember what he said when he received his first OSCAR award, " Mere paas ma hai, which means I have nothing but I have a mother, so mother's here, her blessings are there with me. I'm grateful for her to have come all the way ". Which other music composer or for that matter which other media/entertainment/corporate personality do we know who follows this principle. How many of us will openly show our love and respect to our parents like him. That makes him truly unique.
2. Belief - Be spiritually inclined
A.R.Rahman believes in god always and spiritualism. It’s not about the fact that he follows Islam, and offers prayers 5 times a day…it’s much more than that. I believe there is a huge difference between being religious and being spiritual, of which the latter is what Rahman is made of. In a recent interview Rahman revealed that, "Religion sounds vulgar these days, I am more of a spiritual person. And I believe in being consistent with my spirituality. As one grows in life, one realizes the magnitude of spirituality. It is the most beautiful passion. It raises you above all the negativities. For me and my music, spirituality is the most important element and I don't think I can create the kind of music I do, if I don't practice spirituality."
Spirituality has not only made him connect to his music, but has also made him connect to humanity. When he received his second OSCAR, he said “all my life I had a choice of hate and love and I chose love and I am here, god bless “. That's the powerful message of his spirituality!
3. Country First - Be Patriotic
Though Rahman acknowledges his accomplishment, after receiving OSCARS he quickly points out that this is a COLLECTIVE INDIAN VICTORY. He says, he is happier because this is the first OSCAR for an Indian work and the whole country was waiting for this with bated breath and hence he wanted to get it. He says, now all Indian artists will be looked upon with more respect as we have shown what we are capable of. His patriotism is evident in all his patriotic songs including the latest " Jai Ho ". The way he sings ' vande mataram ' injects some kind of positive energy into our blood stream!
4. Roots - Don't leave your Soul
Mumbai the mecca of Indian films and the entertainment industry, a place where any and every musician will find a way out to survive and earn enough to feed him for the day. It would have been so easy for a musician like Rahman to go and settle in Mumbai and work for acclaimed filmmakers post " Roja and Bombay ". But the man preferred not leaving his home, his roots to a place where instant fame, recognition and money were assured. Of the many ignored facts, Rahman's major success lies in working from his home. Home is where your heart, mind, body and soul is.
With no distraction whatsoever, he has all his energies focused on doing quality work from the comfort of his home. It means a lot to be based out of the place where your family is, where your soul is..Your home, your hometown.
5. Focus - Let your work speak for itself
Yes, let your work speak for itself. Many a times, there are instances where one will be criticized for the way he is, his dressing, his upbringing, his economic background. One will be made fun off, and will be called names. One will not get the support he expects to receive from his seniors and so on….But at the end of all this, if you have a strong will power you can overcome all these, and prove yourself with your work.
There was a time when Rahman was being humiliated by some critics, directors and producers over the kind of music he had scored, and all this when he was at the peak of his career. He could do nothing about it, and preferred to remain calm and unmoved. And whenever his work was released, it got an outstanding response and was embraced by the masses. This overwhelming response and success was a slap on the face of those critics, producers and directors. This tells us, all we need to do is to focus on what we are good at, not on the success it can bring. Success will follow us, our work will speak of itself.
6. Service - Consideration for others
Not many may have noticed that Rahman has introduced maybe a hundred new young singers to the Tamil and Hindi screens – his faith in the youth of India is evident in his statement that he would like youngsters to take a different view of music after his winning the OSCARS. Rahman has done what no other music director has done for the cause of music-starting a music school, the KM MUSIC CONSERVATORY. His objective for starting this school is to make Indian musicians have a global orchestra of their own. This is such an innovative idea and Rahman is spending a lot of time, money and energy towards realizing this noble musical mission!
Rahman is the UN ambassador for the campaign fighting against poverty and he has associated himself with many social causes. When he was in a state of probably disillusionment - one of the things his mother said to him was "why don't you live for others and then you will find a meaning to life". Rahman stuck to that and he does music to make people happy and to enrich their lives.
On the night he returned to India after receiving the OSCARS, his request that his fans ought not to disturb his neighbors in the dead of night attracts attention to a long forgotten quality in India—consideration for others.
7. Humility - Be Humble. Be Honest. Be Simple
With all the above in place, being humble, simple and honest is all that one needs to do to ensure a great life. With so much of stardom and attention after the Golden Globe and OSCARS, Rahman could have got carried away with the success; however he always chose work over publicity.
After winning the OSCARS, he was asked by the press, “what’s left for you to achieve? " He replied in a polite way, “Well, I have not achieved anything. I have not ended poverty level. I have not stopped wars happening.For me these are achievements. And in my opinion, I am just a small musician who has got an award that is it " !
He carries no weight around him, and that makes him completely approachable and genuine. His childlike smile can pacify ones fear and anxiety of meeting him in person. Its like his smile speaks a thousand words. It depicts the purity of his heart and soul. Each and every success makes him more humble, honest and simple. What more we can learn from this winner!
Regardless of season he marches towards rock climbing success. Even in tough time his eyes do not move away from excellence. Commitment, giving 100 percent, focusing on performance is the key ingredients to his success. Meeting challenges and riding over obstacles are in his blood cells. Transferring stumbling stones into opportunities with conviction and leading towards 'WOW' level is the essence of his success.
Through his eternal value and simple living A.R Rahman presents us with opportunities for professional success provided we learn from them, adapt them to our own situations and implement them appropriately.
He convey a message to all of us silently especially to the youth - “humble origins need not prevent us from aspiring for and achieving great success ". How does he convey this message? Dil Se !