Rahman usually works at night. Did you have to interview him then?
Yes. I would reach his studio by 9:30pm, and wait until after midnight. I would leave his studio by 3am. But I met many people while I was waiting.
Once I met Naresh Iyer (who sang Rubaroo, Rang De Basanti). I saw a skinny boy sitting in a corner with his mother. He was reading a book called Seven Habits Of Highly Effective People. He wasn't so famous then so I asked him what he was doing there. He said he was a part of a music reality show which he didn't win but Rahman had asked him to meet him. He had been waiting for the past two weeks. He would come everyday religiously, and sit with his mother until he finally got a break. Nowadays, when I see Naresh Iyer, he has put on weight and 's wearing a leather jacket!
According to you which song or film do you think really made his career?
Rahman had different phases. Roja launched him, but he did good films with Tamil director Shankar. Later, his songs in Kadhalan Muqala Muqaabala and Rangeela built his roots in Bollywood and everybody started knowing him. Subhash Ghai met Rahman after Roja but Rahman did his film Taal much later, after he was famous.
There's a chapter on why Mani Ratnam picked Rahman for Roja, how he found him. Before Roja happened, Mani Ratnam was working with Illaiyaraja. Illaiyaraja gave Mani Ratnam the biggest hit of his career Talapathi. There are different reasons why Mani Ratnam chose to work with Rahman after that. You should read the book to know more. But I can say is Mani Ratnam was looking for change and a new composer.
Which is your favourite part of the book?
The first part, where he's Dileep. That really tells us how Rahman came to be. My favourite chapter is the last one, called At Work. It's an interview with Rahman.
Has Rahman read the book?
I mailed it to him but he has not commented on it yet. He said his team members have read it but he has not had the time to go through it fully.
The book has some rare photographs. How did you get them?
Rahman's office gave me some. I got some -- like Rahman's father's picture - from different sources.