Mr. Chandran has a light music troupe, and has been associated for the past 30 years with A.R. Rahman’s family. He has been part of harmonies, and has also sung some solo songs for A.R. Rahman. His experiences with the maestro is as follows. (Interview done by A.R. Reihana for the Rahmania Show)
You have been associated for the past 30 years with our family. Whats your opinion?
Its a great fortune. When I first saw Rahman , I wondered that he is not a normal human being. He is going to be a trend setter. I have worked a lot with your father. He used to like my voice. He had called me to sing a lot of harmonies for many Malayalam movies, and I was a young kid at that time. I was 18 or 19 years old at that time. There was a lady by name H.M.V. Kamala, and she had once come home, and I was practising at that time. At that time, Shekhar sir came, and he exclaimed that I sang well, and from that time, we developed friendship, and I have been to Bharani studios.
Your father (Shekhar ) was an arranger, and used to be a master in arranging Western Instruments. Each and every Malayalam troupe used to compose tune, and ask if Shekhar sir had come. The whole studio used to wait for his arrival. After he comes, he used to sepereate the chords, and the sounding used to be entirely different. He used to tell me to sing chorus for a lot of Malayalam songs. Then, I started developing good friendship and used to come to your home often.
I used to see a lot of musical equipments at your home. We started taking them for hire. Rahman was very small at that time, but used to be very shrewd. He used to observe those instruments, the way they were played. I had also participated in the Aristocrat band started by Rahman. When we used to do shows, he used to come and perform One Man Shows, with the keyboard at the intervals. I used to wonder at the talent of this young boy and was wondering at the heights he would reach later in his life.
Once, when I was working with Ilayaraja Sir, Rahman came there for playing Keyboard. His brilliance was visible there too. There was a song for a film called Jappanil Kalyana Raman called ” Radhe En radhe Vaaradhe” ( sung by a Telugu Singer ) . The same song had a mickey mouse version of it, which was done by Rahman. He felt that he would become visible only when he started working of his own, and started doing jingles. I have worked a lot with him for jingles. At the maximum, I would have done about 200 to 300 jingles for Rahman.
Your mother’s father (Tatha) used to ask me ” Where is the program today da ‘?. That time, there used to be a great Kalyana Mandapam called Habits bury in Chennai. We used to perform there. Rahman used to come with your grand father for all the shows that time. He used to display so much interest towards music. He always used to have that extra eagerness to do something different.
I got a keyboard Roland from Dubai. I didnt know anyting about it. I got it to Rahman (Dileep at that time) and requested him to check that out. He told, that I got a good keyboard. He found some combinations in that keyboard, which no one can find out. Within an hour, he segregated the keyboard and did a research on it. We had admired each and every act of his. I used to wonder if it was my voice, when I sang with Rahman. For others, it used to sound different, and for Rahman it was entirely different. It was a small room, but had all the quality needed. we can imagine at the amount of hard work , he would have put for getting it ready.
I anyone asks me I will tell, a person fully blessed by Divinity is Rahman. Its not sheer luck or anything like that. Its sincere hard work, and God having seen that has bestowed upon him this state that he is as of now.
When Roja was being done, I asked him, if he would give me a chance. He told for sure, he will. He gave me Kadhal Rojave song from Roja. He was also willing that my voice would go for that song, but it so happened that Balu Sir got to sing that song. Balu Sir had sung it so well. The sounding of that song was so superb and Rahman Sir had also recommended that they keep my track for the final piece. But God willed otherwise.
Then, I went to Singapore for 3 years, which was the biggest mistake in my life. At that time, if i would have been here, I would have got songs which he gave to Shahul Hameed. I would have got atleast some 10 songs, and I would have flown in the skies. Whenever he used to call me, I used to be in Singapore. But anyhow, I feel happy, that I am part of your family, as a good family friend. I am so happy at all this.
The First Harmony sung for Rahman was :- Oh ho Oh ho ( For Rukkumani song in Roja ). Then track for Kadhal Rojave. I returned back in 1995 end from Singapore. Jan 1st, 1995. I came back, and said Hi to him. He asked me where I was. I always used to request him to call me for harmonies . Before, I returned home, I got a call from your sister telling me that ” Chandran Sir. Rahman has called you. Pls come immediately”. At that time, they were recording the song, ” Kappaleri Poyachu ( Indian ) “. There were a lot of harmony works in that song. Very heavy work. Amazing work.
Mustapha Mustapha – The song was recorded at 4 AM in the morning. As usual, we came at 8 PM in the night. The tune was taught. But the recording happened between 4 AM to 6 AM. Unforgettable moments in my life. The sounding of Rahman never used to make us tired. Anywhere in the world, you see, Rahman songs are admired, because of the sounding. All the songs are produced within that small room in Panchathan, which is very very amazing to know. Rahman sir ‘s sounding and other MDs sounding has a lot of difference. Rahman Sir ‘s sounding including the chords, the base, and other miscellanous sounds can be done by the one and only Rahman.
Muthu Muthu Mazhai Muthaduthu ( Mr. Romeo ) :- God had willed that he had given me a powerful voice. But credit goes to Rahman for tapping the voice of me, and making me sing . Its he, who had given me that song , and made me sing. I used to sing, with the feel of singing solos for Rahman . For all songs like Nenaichapadi ( Kadhalar Dhinam ) , Dandiya Attam ( Kadhalar Dhinam ) . You can listen to my voice very seperately. In the Muthu Mazhai song, there used to be a line ‘ Sundari Sundari Selai sundari nee dhandi”. Rahman asked me to sing it in higher octave. I sang, and he felt very happy. The unique aspect about him is that he will let us free. he will never direct us to sing this way, that way. He will then congratulate us telling ‘ See how many skills you have within yourselves”. Then I used to reply, ” Its you who have made that visible”.
Nenjinile Nenjinile Chorus – (the harmony which comes in between ). Rahman takes so much of pain in recording a harmony, like any solos. Each and every minute part of the song , he takes so much of involvementand pain, which makes it so beautiful. Something amazing. He is not only a great Music Director, but also a great technician. he knows the each and every technical aspect of sounding.
Oru Deivam Dhandha Poove :- The Chords, the chord progressions, the sound proceedings are awesome.
He never does anything just for name sake. He chisels the song like a sculptor. He will make it more beautiful, more and more beautiful. The most amazing bit is singing for re recording. He will ask us to sing four or five times, and without our knowledge he would have finished the recording. His concentration is at heights. We should have full concentration, when we enter his studios. We will automatically get the responsiblity. He will give more importance to harmony singers, rather than solos at times, for re- recording.
Sounding is Main. It is this sounding, where people have just fell flat for Rahman’s music. He is Just awesome in that. Today, a chorus singer has name, dignity in the soceity, and its because of Rahman. Like Karthik, Tippu, Srini, all became solos after singing harmonies. He never used to address us as harmony singers, but would call us by names. He will give respect.
He will now also ask about our welfare, and talk to us so freely as before. The same old Dileep is the same Rahman now. No change even miniscule. See where God has kept him today. Its because of 100% sincererity, perfection and hardwork. Its because of his discipline.
Translation Credits: V.R. Vithur