Birthday Love: AR Rahman’s musical masterpieces from the 90s

Yasmin Shabir

Features Writer


This artist is passionate, a musical genius and definitely one of a kind. A treasure of creativity that continuously inspires those around him. This legend is none other than the extremely talented Mr AR Rahman, who celebrates his birthday on 6th January. decided to pick five musical masterpieces from the 90s that we feel deserved a special mention. Of course this was a difficult task as there are so many to choose from but here are our five masterpieces from the legend.

Chikku Bukku Rayile from ‘Gentleman’ (1993)
To enjoy this song it is necessary to turn up the volume because when the beat hits it’s hard not to dance along. Suresh Peters and GV Prakash Kumar did a superb job with their vocals. Peters starts singing as though he is whispering but then when the bass hits he becomes more lively putting emphasis on certain words. Rahman is simply a mastermind who likes to make use of everything around him, take this song for example. The song is set at a train station and he has smartly used the sound of a train chugging along for the background music in certain portions of the song. Also the way he used a traditional instrument, the shehnai and used it with various types of drums was outstanding.

For this song Gautami, Prabhu Deva and his brother Raju Sundaram made a special appearance in the film. Hats off to the choreographer for this song as the dance steps for both Deva and Sundaram were jaw dropping. Not only this there were elements of comedy where they used effects. Even after so many years this Tamil song is still very popular.

Kya Kare, Kya Na Kare from ‘Rangeela’ (1995)
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that the whole album of ‘Rangeela’ in itself is a treat for the listener. It was Rahman’s first Hindi soundtrack album which fetched him two Filmfare awards.

It felt as though Rahman really wanted to experiment with this soundtrack as he used instruments in such a powering manner that one is left mesmerised. The use of percussion instruments such as the flute and the violin blows one away. In one portion of the song he has Udit Narayan singing and cleverly uses the drum in the background which gives the effect of a gong.

The beginning of the song starts off mellow but as it continues it builds up with the sound of the saxophone and background singers. Then forty seconds into the song Rahman hypnotises the listener with his powerful melody such is the impact of his music.

Ek Bagiya Mein from ‘Sapnay’ (1997)
Once one has heard this song they are unable to forget it. What Rahman did in this song is unheard of for the 90s as he created music that sounded so different but it worked. The vocals of Shankar Mahadevan, Srinivas and K. S. Chithra fit perfectly with the energetic beats of Rahman’s composition. It’s almost as though the song goes through various transitions from a jolly carnival atmosphere to Rajastani beats and then to the kuthu dance portion that could get anyone up and dancing. With the likes of Kajol, Prabhu Deva and Nassar seen grooving to this song they all did justice to his creation.

Ishq Bina 2 from ‘Taal’ (1999)
There were two versions of this song with the first one being a happier version set at a wedding.
The second one is a more dramatic version where the main character Mansi (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan) is performing the song to a large audience with a full orchestra. This particular piece has both traditional and western sounds mixed together in such a beautiful manner, that it’s flawless. The sound of the tabla and harmonium in the first section is so calming to hear and then as the song progresses the listener is hit with the western beats. The violin and the flute played a very important part in this song without them the song would have been incomplete.

The best way to describe this version would be grand as the music is rich and the sounds of the orchestra truly make one feel as though they’re sat in a theatre listening to this musical piece live.

Kavita Krishnamurthy sung with such power and emotion that her voice syncs with the music perfectly. Also a special mention to the great Sukhwinder Singh who accompanied Krishnamurthy’s vocals.

Latka Dikha Diya from ‘Hindustani’ (1996)
The song was picturised on both Kamal Haasan and Urmila Matondkar who were definitely the right people to have for this song. The song has such energy that a confident dancer would be required to match the beats and in this case they did well in terms of casting.

The late Swarnalata sung for Matondkar in this hip shaking number. Rahman must be praised for the music he created for this film as it is simply out of this world. In Indian cinema it was something new that had never been heard of before. More than twenty years later people are still listening to this song, they feel as though it was something made well ahead of its time as the music is so fresh.

The team at wishes Mr AR Rahman a very happy birthday!