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Music maestro to perform at Bukit Jalil National Stadium on July 27

Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman, who is making a return to Malaysia for a much anticipated concert in July, has revealed that Malaysian audiences uplift his spirits and are “the craziest”.

Last year, the maestro behind countless timeless melodies held the “AR Rahman – Secret of Success: Live in Malaysia” concert and it was a big hit, with a huge turnout of more than 60,000 fans.

This year, the internationally acclaimed singer with prestigious accolades such as Grammy and Golden Globe awards is set to deliver an unforgettable night at the same venue, the Bukit Jalil National Stadium.

Star Planet, which has held world-class live music concerts with international stars and the organiser of the upcoming “AR Rahman Live in Kuala Lumpur Concert 2024”, held an online interview recently with the media.

To a question from theSun on what he likes most about Malaysia, AR replied: “The people, their love, cheers and encouragement all these years ... over 30 years!

“Whenever I feel low, I always think about the fans in Malaysia and I will get the energy (and feel uplifted),” said the icon of the Indian music industry, who held his first concert here back in 1996.

“There is a connection. My first concert was in Malaysia. It started here. I never thought of performing, but they (fans) convinced me to perform. There is always a sense of attachment and a kind of belonging (here).”

Asked about his favourite spot in Malaysia, AR quipped: “The airport.”

Not many would know this, but AR revealed that he welcomed New Year’s Day 2024 on a beach in Malaysia.

The singer also slipped in a little secret about how he likes visiting local markets, trying street food and visiting electronic or IT outlets incognito, sometimes wearing a mask. He even bought a gaming laptop from an electronics store here.

$!Internationally acclaimed music composer AR has won major awards such as Oscars, Grammys and Golden Globes. – PICS COURTESY OF STAR PLANET

Soul connection with fans

AR said he feels a soul connection with his live audience, and views performing as fun, full of passion and love, and not just a job.

He added that if someone merely wanted to listen to his songs, it could be done with a CD, but watching him perform in person would present an experience, surprises and the euphoria of hearing the songs sung live.

“So many factors determine the excitement of a live audience, and there is a soul connection.”

He said performers are sometimes “blown away” by the reaction of fans.

“At times, we are overwhelmed by the loud cheers. But each moment is cherished.”

As to his repertoire for the coming concert, AR said he and his team were in the process of curating the songs.

The living legend, who has a career spanning three decades, has a long list of amazing songs from the 1990s, 2000s and 2010s, right up to his songs from the latest movies. Known for his humble personality, AR has several international hits and in 2009, he won two Academy Awards for “Best Original Song” (Jai Ho) and Best Original Score” for the movie Slumdog Millionaire.

$!A screenshot of the composer during the interview.

Nostalgic, new and unexplored songs

AR promised that his Bukit Jalil performance would feature a combination of his greatest hits presented together with songs that were never really performed or promoted in movies but were musically great.

“We are trying to have different kinds of arrangements. We love doing this, the surprise (factor) is appreciated by fans,” said AR, who also spoke in Tamil during the online interview.

In the previous concert, local pop sensation Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza was lauded by concertgoers for her perfect rendition of the Tamil song Anbe Vaa, sung originally by Indian singer Shreya Ghosal.

“She gave an incredible performance that went viral. She is the only artiste I know. I think I need to know more,” said AR, when asked which local artiste he plans to collaborate with this time.

On the names of playback singers or Indian artistes expected to perform at the concert, AR said things are still in the planning stage and the names will be revealed in the coming weeks.

$!The accomplished music composer is also a great singer.

Music has no boundaries

Despite praises for his stellar performance in the 2023 concert, AR was questioned by Tamil media about his choice of singing Hindi-language songs to a mostly Tamil audience, despite having songs in Tamil.

AR said he is a Tamil, who has composed Hindi-language songs, which he considers an achievement and cherishes. So, as a mark of respect, he performed Hindi songs.

Furthermore, Dil Se is originally a Hindi film, and the song was translated into Tamil. So, it was performed in its original language Hindi, at the last concert.

AR explained that the Malay community in Malaysia loves Hindi songs, and there were foreigners in the audience as well. He added that most of the songs in the three-and-a-half-hour 2023 concert were Tamil songs, with only 30 minutes dedicated to Hindi songs. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife attended AR’s concert last year.

$!Promo poster for the concert on July 27.

Embracing other cultures

“The last time, we had a few Hindi songs and loads of Tamil songs. We had some beautiful moments. I think the fans’ love for Tamil is very good. I am Tamil and I love Tamil very much. We (the Tamil community) are very embracing of other cultures because we are so confident and secure about our culture and language. And the more secure we are, the more embracing we become of other cultures.

“I feel Malaysians have achieved greatness in embracing diversity, love and progress,” said AR, adding that he wants to share his love with all his fans.

At one point, a journalist asked if he would like to have a biopic, and AR gave a straight answer.

“I don’t want a biopic. There was an offer from Hollywood but I declined because I feel I have just started my journey.”

The journey may have just begun for AR but for us, we just cannot wait for the 57-year-old to explore music further and give us more wonderful tunes in the future.

Tickets for the concert are available now. Prices range from RM98 to RM1,288.