Saturday, June 09, 2007


My A.R. Rahman Critic's Choice appears in this week's Backwards R.

It also made the #1 spot on Saturday's home page --probably because the accompanying photo is so dramatic.

A.R. Rahman
Dubbed the "Asian Mozart" by the Daily Telegraph, 41-year-old composer A.R. Rahman redefined contemporary Indian film music in the early 90s, transforming a style that was formulaic and drowning in kitsch into something diverse and sophisticated, infused with everything from Baroque strings to pop guitar to dancehall beats. A student of Carnatic music who'd played keyboards on tour with tabla master Zakir Hussain at a young age, he earned a degree in Western classical music from Oxford and made commercial jingles at his home studio before taking his first film commission, Roja, in 1992. Since then he's scored 70 films and two Broadway musicals (Bombay Dreams and The Lord of the Rings), selling more than 200 million albums in the process. His Chicago debut promises to be a Bollywood-scale spectacle, with nearly 50 musicians, 20 dancers, and a dozen of India's top playback singers (the people whose voices you actually hear in Bollywood musicals), including Sukwhinder Singh, Sadhana Sargam, K.S. Chitra, and Hariharan.
- C.K. / Satya Cacananda
8 PM, Sears Centre, 5333 Prairie Stone Pkwy., Hoffman Estates, 888-732-7784, $40-$155.

What the review doesn't mention is that he's a dark-skinned Tamil (South Indian) who along with his siblings converted to Islam (A.R. = Allah Rakha) after a Sufi healer cured his sister's illness. In addition to the music, he's on a crusade to eradicate TB and AIDS from the world.

But the best reason to pick up the paper this week is Tori Marlan's cover story about a child who was killed by a police car while crossing the street after buying some gum. That's the real journalism.

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