A. R. Rahman
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AR Rahman: I want my Sufi concerts to heal people

By HT

New Delhi, Nov. 20 -- In the backdrop of the Qutab Minar, when composer, singer-songwriter and music producer AR Rahman took to singing Khwaja Mere Khwaja from the film Jodhaa Akbar (2008), music lovers couldn't believe they were hearing the Academy Award winning artist live in the Capital. 
 
"Yes, I'm performing after long in Delhi - and two concerts back-to-back. The other one will be in December." 
 
Rahman's connect with Sufi isn't new. Recollecting how his tryst with this music genre began, he says, "First I was just doing Sufi songs as a passion. I started my studio with Tamil Sufi songs in 1989, which was the first album I did. And then in Hindi, the first [song] was Piya Haji Ali [from Fiza (2000)]." 
 
But, Rahman singing his first Hindi Sufi song for a film has a lesser-known tale behind it. 
 
"Khalid Mohamed (director of Fiza) wanted a Muqabala kind of song. I asked is there any other song? He said: 'Yaa there is a qawwali, and Khayam saab's gonna do it'. I asked, 'can I do the qawwali and give the Muqabala song to him?' So he said: 'Yaa sure, if you wanna try Piya Haji Ali'. And, so many people loved it!" 
 
Reminiscing the success of his first Sufi song, Rahman says, "The reception [of these Sufi songs] wasn't just from one community, but everybody realised the true sense of spirituality in it. And then there were enough songs for us. I had these little sections in my concerts with qawwali. 
 
Some said: 'Why do we have little sections', let's have a whole concert. And I didn't know whether people will come for the concert." 
 
But Rahman held his first Sufi concert in 2014, in Dubai. "But, after that we could never do it. I wanted to do it for causes; like a healing process. So, when the Sufi concert came, I said it's perfect. And, we are now in the time when we are healing, all of us, myself first." 
 
ON PERFORMING FOR IVANKA TRUMP 
 
Speaking about news reports of his Encore concert coinciding with the opening night of Global Entrepreneurship Summit where Ivanka Trump will be present, Rahman says, "I don't even know about it... I just read it in the papers. Everyone is asking; my American agent is asking are you playing [for Ivanka]. It's interesting, it's exotic [to know about it from newspapers]. Sometimes you have to smile at exotic-ness."