Saturday, August 13, 2016

Talent can move faith out of the picture

AR Rahman converted to Islam in 1989 at the age of 23. He gave up his Hindu name (Dileep) and assumed his now world-famous moniker. Rarely do you hear someone say Allah Rakha Rahman, now do you? It's always AR. Besides, how many times do you find people discussing his religion (ex or current)? This is interesting if you follow his career (chronologically) and see how he managed to stay clear of the smear that often follows someone who proselytes in a religious country like ours. For one, he was remarkably talented and his early work at the onset of 90s only made his transition to Bollywood a natural progress. Secondly, he never shied away from talking about religion; he never hid the fact he converted much later in life for spiritual reasons. Thirdly, the religious temper (if there can be scientific temper, why not religious?) in Tamil Nadu is far more mature than other states. These three reasons are set against an event—the demolition of Babri Masjid (1992)—which is yet to divorce our present. Naysayers will point out that his splendid craft in sensitive films like Bombay (1995) and Dil Se (1998) highlighted his nationalism whether he intended so or not. Then, there was his unforgettable rendition of Vande Mataram too on India's 50th independence anniversary (1997). But, all things argued and perceived, what's worth wondering is, can we imagine an upcoming talent in India today who recently changed his course of faith, and is public about it, to be as successful and embraced as AR Rahman?

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