A. R. Rahman

My first experience of that was with my first movie which I did in India. And it was so different from other people. I find that “Oh my God.” Every time the music is slow I feel that people are going to get up and go out. You get this nervousness. But, to my surprise, people starting singing the song even before it came in. They started singing along a week later, after release, which was very cool.

How we approached this was I wanted this to be personal in a way. It’s not a big, epic Hollywood score but really personal and intimate, and we thought guitar would be the perfect instrument for him because he’s young and he has an undying spirit and all that stuff and we went on that feeling totally.

That’s the sound design. I watched it sixty times because we were constantly tweaking. The same thing comes twice, right? Once it comes in the beginning when he’s about to discover that he needs to come out and one is the dream where he’s flattered (??) and then he comes out. The last one, instead of going bigger, we made it smaller. We removed elements and thinned it out. So it doesn’t drive him. He drives the music rather than the other way around.

I played a couple of ideas and then had this unusual texture underneath which was like this little granulated kind of pipe organ almost like a scratchy record which he started [inaudible] brilliantly. “Oh I love that song.” And when things go fine, it’s good. So he started loving that song and that song was used quite a lot in the movie which is very granulated stuff on the guitar.

It’s a very simple process. He [Danny Boyl] comes in the tube (subway) and then he sits with me for 3 hours every evening and then I work on something. Then later, if he likes something, I put it even more perfectly. I tweak stuff. So this happened for 3 or 4 weeks and the music was done.

I’ve been doing music for many years and after a point what is the motivation that drives you to compose and to do stuff? I did this song for the U.N., a fighting for poverty anthem. That’s when I realized that I could do a foundation. And when I started the foundation, it was basically to fight poverty and to help – that kind of stuff.

What is good is what it’s going to lead to, like the song “Jai Ho.” If good numbers are going to come in the future, it bodes well for a lot of things. But then, who’s going to maintain that. That’s the question. So far they could never lead to an Indian song, like a normal film song in this that they can relate to.

Because when you work with a different team, the expectations are different and then you deliver in a very different way. You look back at it and you’re proud of yourself. And when the same people come in and you do the same thing, it’s boring. You could re-envision it again and again but when the new chemistry of ideas comes in, something happens as a team.

These are the Rad instruments that are dying out in India. So, it’s going well and I think now we are increasing the number of kids we have taught and of course we are helping out with other things too. It’s based in India now. [The idea is to] perfect it in one place and then we’ll expand.

I went to London to do the stuff. I was like “What am I going to do? What’s going to happen?” But then once you start working, you forget all that and you start enjoying what you’re doing. Once you enjoy the process, you know that people are going to do the same thing. If you don’t enjoy it and just do it like a job, then it’s going to be feel that way. That’s my theory of doing a movie.