Rahman to be felicitated by south Indian musicians' union

Chennai, Feb 25 (IANS) Over 1,500 members of the Cine Musicians' Union (CMU) here will be among the first to felicitate Oscar-winner A.R. Rahman upon his return to the country on March 1, the body's chairman S.A. Rajkumar said Wednesday.

"This will be the start of a long series of functions in India that Rahman has graciously agreed to attend. In a way, it is a fitting tribute as he began his career here and is one of our esteemed members, whose music and Oscar victory represent the whole nation's pride and honour," Rajkumar told IANS.

A three kg silver memento in the shape of a globe with the etched logo of the body will presented to Rahman by legendary Carnatic musician M. Balamuralikrishna.

"It signifies that music is a universal language understood and appreciated worldwide. For us, he has won the world. Some of those who shaped Rahman's career in the beginning will be on stage as well, including music directors M.S. Vishwanathan, Ilayaraja and singer S.P. Balasubramanian," said Rajkumar.

Others on the dais would include movie directors K. Balachander, who gave Rahman his first break in "Roja", and A.V.M. Saravanan, who heads one of the biggest production houses in south India.

According to CMU sources, the memento is being created at a cost Rs.300,000. It was not immediately known whether the ceremony would include a concert.

The CMU represents the entire south India, encompassing the Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada film industries.

Rahman is also scheduled to visit the high security Puzhal prison to meet the inmates, according to Director General of Police (Prisons) R. Natraj.

"The visit will coincide with the screening of the Tamil dubbed version of 'Slumdog Millionaire' for inmates," said Natraj.

According to film industry sources here, a special "chariot" is being readied to ferry Rahman from the airport upon his arrival.

"There will be massive crowds on the streets to greet this hero whose victory is as great as our cricket team winning the world cups twice - in 1983 and the T20 version," said S. Bukhari, an Urdu and Arabic scholar who is one of the organisers of the event.

"Rahman means 'the merciful' and is an epithet of Allah. Since he said that he chose love and eschewed hate during the acceptance speech at the Oscar ceremony, this young man is India's 'Rahnuma' - the pioneer guide directing all towards the correct path," Bukhari added.

Rahman is also scheduled to give charity concerts for blind children and attend a host of other functions after his arrival.

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