The following year, 1993, saw a lot of new releases that made him more popular. His second film ‘Pudhiya Mugam’ with director Suresh Menon was also a success but was not in the same league as ‘Roja’. It was his third film “Gentleman” with debutante director Shankar that firmly established him as the new king of Tamil film music.
‘Gentleman’ became a bigger hit than ‘Roja’ especially the song ‘Chikku bukku rayile’. Rahman also did a film in Malayalam called ‘Yodha’ for the brothers Sangeeth and Santosh Sivan, and two films in Telugu titled ‘Super Police’ and ‘Gangmaster’, all of which were moderate successes. But his Malayalam and Telugu films have remained relatively unknown till date, inspite of having the classic Rahman touch in them. ‘Yodha’ particularly was offbeat featuring Nepali, Tibetan and Buddhist music in tune with the film’s setting.
His other films in Tamil in that and the subsequent year were ‘Uzhavan’ with Kadhir, ‘Kizhakku Cheemayile’ with Bharathiraaja, with both of whom he would work on many more films in the future, ‘Vandicholai Chinnarasu’, and ‘Pudhiya Mannargal’. All the scores were only moderately successful. But it was his second score for Mani Ratnam in ‘Thiruda Thiruda’ and for K.Balachander in ‘Duet’ that really stood out. Rahman redefined film music with his score in ‘Thiruda Thiruda’.
While the film itself did not do too well, the music became an all time chartbuster and the Tamil songs of ‘Thiruda Thiruda’ appeared on Hindi language countdown shows. It was for the first time that Tamil songs became popular on a national scale. His equally unconventional score for ‘Duet’ centering around one instrument – the saxophone, played by one of its noted Indian exponents Kadri Gopalnath, was also widely appreciated and is considered to be one of Rahman’s best scores.