×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Busan: Oscar-Winning Composer A.R. Rahman Sings ‘99 Songs’

A.R. Rahman, Oscar, BAFTA and Grammy-winning composer of “Slumdog Millionaire,” will world premiere “99 Songs,” his debut as screenwriter and producer, at the Busan International Film Festival on Wednesday.

The film, directed by Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy (TV’s “The Dewarists”), will play as part of the festival’s Open Cinema strand. The screening will be preceded by a live piano performance by Rahman where he will bow themes from the film.

“It’s like a fairy tale, where a guy has to write a 100 songs to win the girl, but it’s not that simple,” Rahman told Variety. The peripatetic composer spends a lot of time on planes. That, coupled with his post-Oscars composing phase with Hollywood’s comparatively relaxed schedule, gave him the time to conceive the idea of writing a film about music.

“We have all the social stigmas, musicians are always drunk and dead at the end,” says Rahman. “If you look at most of the iconic movies, they are all losers, like ‘A Star Is Born,’ or they commit suicide. ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ he gets thrown out by his sister. Why is that stigma, which is reflecting in the movies? Why can’t we make something about a success story? Not just success story, but also the internal war which a creative person faces.”

Despite having worked with most of India’s A-list directing talent, Rahman chose relative newcomer Krishnamoorthy to direct. “I know that if I worked with anybody like that then I’ll be intimidated to tell them any of my ideas. I wanted somebody who’s like a friend, who is also a musician. We found Vishwesh and we shared the same vision.”

It took the duo a year to come up with a draft they were satisfied with. The team then went through an extensive auditioning process with casting director Mukesh Chhabra and finally chose debutant Ehan Bhat and Edilsy Vargas (“Peppermint”) as the leads. Bhat was given piano training at Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, India, and sent to Los Angeles for training from acting and success coach Bernard Hiller.

“To write was the easiest, to produce was difficult,” says Rahman. Canada’s Ideal Entertainment eventually stepped in as co-producer alongside Rahman’s YM Movies. “They were very kicked about the script and the vision,” says Rahman. Billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Studios is handling international sales and is looking to release “99 Songs” in the first quarter of 2020, after its festival run.

The composer ceased working in Hollywood because of the long time spent away from his family. He is returning with Hyde Park Entertainment’s Netflix series “Pashmina.” He remains as busy as ever at home in India where upcoming films include “Bigil” and “Dil Bechara,” the Indian remake of “The Fault In Our Stars.” Also in the works is historical epic “Ponniyin Selvan,” the dream project of multi-hyphenate Mani Ratnam who introduced Rahman to the world in 1992 with “Roja.”

Popular on Variety:

More Film

  • Jason Flemyng, Casting Director Lucinda Syson

    Jason Flemyng, Lucinda Syson Launch Film and TV Indie The Kernel Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jason Flemyng, fellow actor Ben Starr, casting director Lucinda Syson, and finance expert Cristiano D’Urso are opening The Kernel Factory, a new U.K.-based film and TV indie. Flemyng has a long list of movie credits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking [...]

  • Hache

    ‘Hache’ Creator, Director Discuss Netflix’s Next Spanish Original, Dropping Nov. 1

    MADRID — On Nov 1 Netflix will drop its fifth Spanish original series, 1960’s-set drug smuggling drama “Hache,” produced by Madrid’s Weekend Studio for the platform. Created by Verónica Fernández and directed by Jorge Torregrossa (“La vida inesperada,” “Cocaine Coast,” “Velvet Collection”), “Hache” tells the story of Helena (Adriana Ugarte), a prostitute who ends up [...]

  • Argentina Film Lab

    Argentina to Build Country’s First Film Restoration Laboratory in Buenos Aires

    Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia y las Artes Audiovisuals (INCAA) and the Ministry of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires will partner to build Argentina’s first laboratory of film preservation. Minister of Culture Enrique Avogadro and INCAA president Ralph Haiek signed the agreement which will see Buenos Aires’ Pablo Ducrós Hicken Film Museum in [...]

  • The-Ancient-Law

    Lumière Festival’s MIFC Broadens International Spotlight with Focus on Germany

    The 7th Lumière Film Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) is expanding its international scope this year with more foreign companies than ever before taking part in the event, high-profile guests and an examination of Germany’s heritage cinema sector. With 17 international firms from 25 countries at the event, the MIFC has reported a 20% [...]

  • US actor Donald Sutherland poses for

    Donald Sutherland Reflects in Lyon On A Life And Career Marked By Cinema

    In a loose and free-flowing on-stage interview held at the Lumière Festival this past Sunday, Donald Sutherland reflected on his decade-spanning career with a tone that mixed personal irreverence alongside genuine veneration for the art form that brought him this far. “I love filmmakers, I really do,” said the Canadian actor, who delighted the local [...]

  • Lucky Day

    Film Review: 'Lucky Day'

    It’s been 17 long years since “Rules of Attraction” director Roger Avary has released a film, during which time he was involved in a deadly car crash, charged with gross vehicle manslaughter, saw a work furlough translated into actual prison time, and watched things go south with Video Archives amigo Quentin Tarantino over the “Pulp [...]

  • Terry Back chairman ACF

    Veteran U.K. Media Investor Terry Back Joins ACF as Chairman

    CANNES — Veteran U.K. film industry investor Terry Back has joined ACF investment bank as chairman. ACF, headed by CEO Thomas Dey, has been at the forefront of the M&A activity around independent TV and film production outfits, mostly in the unscripted TV arena. ACF is in the midst of expanding its activities in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content