A two-time Academy Award winner, A.R. Rahman is known world over as the man who redefined contemporary Indian music and brought Indian music to the international stage.
Rahman humbly began his career in music by assisting leading musicians in India by composing jingles and scores for popular Indian television features. From there, he went on to compose his own music for Indian films. He received national acclaim for his first film, Roja (1991) and was awarded the Indian National Award for Best Composer. Since then he has gone on to win the same award three more times – more than any other composer to date. In addition to these honors, he has been awarded numerous other accolades for his work in Indian film, including the Padma Bhushan award, four Indian National Film Awards, and 26 Filmfare Awards.
In 1997, Rahman was the first artist from South Asia to sign with Sony Records, and in recent years he has since diversified his career by composing not only for film but for theatre as well. In 2002, in collaboration with Andrew Lloyd Webber, he composed the critically acclaimed Bombay Dreams for London’s West End, and in 2006 he composed the music for the stage production of Lord of the Rings.
Rahman has gone on to receive international acclaim for his work. In 2008 this culminated with two Academy Awards for Best Score and Best Song, a Golden Globe, two Grammy Awards, a BAFTA distinction, and over a dozen other accolades, for his work on the hit film, Slumdog Millionaire. He has toured in over 30 international venues around the world, including at the Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl in 2006 and, according to a recent BBC estimate, has sold more than 150 million copies of his music, from more than 100 film soundtracks and albums, in half a dozen languages. He qualified in western classical music with the Trinity College of Music in London and he has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the Aligarh Muslim University, Anna University, and Middlesex University in London.
Empowered by his success and status, Rahman contributes to many philanthropic organisations. In 2001 he created the A.R. Rahman Foundation to help impoverished and underprivileged children; in 2004 he was appointed as a WHO Global Ambassador for the Stop TB Partnership; and currently he serves as the UN Ambassador for the 2015 Millennium Development Goals. In addition, his music label, KM Musiq, provides a platform for non-mainstream music artists. In 2008, Rahman announced a new initiative to establish a Western Classical music tradition in India, and he founded the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, India.