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Sunday, September 26, 2021

When AR Rahman refused to meet Michael Jackson, said ‘will only meet him if I win the Oscar’

AR Rahman's life and career weren't the same after winning the Oscars. He got to rub shoulders with the who's who of Hollywood including Michael Jackson.

By: Entertainment Desk | Bengaluru |
Updated: July 24, 2021 9:46:06 am
AR Rahman is now busy composing the score for Mani Ratnam's Ponniyin Selvan. (Photo: PR handout)

India can’t forget the morning of February 23, 2009, as the countrymen woke up to the news of composer AR Rahman winning not one but two Oscars for his score for director Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. A school dropout who eked out a living playing piano for composer Illayaraja to winning two Oscars, Rahman’s life is the stuff of which fairytales are made.

Rahman’s life and career weren’t the same after winning the Oscars. He got to rub shoulders with the who’s who of Hollywood. Rahman once recalled the memorable meeting he had with Michael Jackson soon after his historic win. He noted that he concocted a test for his new Hollywood agent Sam Schwartz to see what he was capable of.

“I asked him whether he can arrange a meeting with Michael Jackson. And he looked at his friend, who said, he can send an email to Michael Jackson,” Rahman said.

However, for weeks Rahman did not hear back from his agent about his request. He also got busy with Oscar promotions at the time and concluded that the meeting was never happening. Four days before the Oscars, Rahman was told, “Hey, Michael wants to meet you.”

Rahman was busy rehearsing his performance for the Oscar night at the time. “I thought for a moment and said, ‘I will meet him if I win’,” he recalled. “Otherwise, I don’t want to meet him.”

The next day, after winning coveted awards, the Mozart of Madras went to meet the King of Pop. “He (Michael) opened the door for me wearing (his iconic) gloves and sunglasses. I was standing in front of him on the high of winning two Oscars as the whole of India was going crazy about it. It was surreal. We spoke for about two hours. We spoke about a lot of things such as love and hatred. We discussed the Jai Ho song. He said to me like my music, his dance moves also flow from his soul. And suddenly he stood and danced for me. I felt like being struck by a thunderbolt,” he recalled.

At present, Rahman is composing the score for Mani Ratnam’s period drama Ponniyin Selvan. He will also soon make his debut as a director with his ambitious virtual reality film, Le Musk.

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