Bollywood music maestro and Oscar-winning music composer AR Rahman have received unparalleled love from the Indian audience, including the Hindi belt, irrespective of religion or linguistic limitations. However, when it comes to reciprocating this unadulterated love, Rahman becomes a little apprehensive.
Soon after Home Minister Amit Shah suggested that Hindi should replace English as a unifying language across the nation, Rahman took to Twitter to share an image of the “Tamil Goddess” with text illustrating his dedication and truthfulness for the Tamil stature, which surpasses one’s love for his life. Many are looking at this tweet as his response to the Home Minister’s suggestions.
Rahman may tweet about his dedication to the Tamil ethos; his actions in real life seem to challenge his claims. The image of the Tamil goddess posted by Rahman was a distorted image of the Tamil Goddess that looks a lot like the Hindu Goddess Saraswati. The one tweeted by the composer was different from what traditional Tamils identified with, and the appalling difference was pointed out by several Twitter users.
Rahman has three children. A man that loved the Tamil language so fondly adorn give any of his children a traditional Tamil name?
Though applauded for his composition of Vandemataram, Rahman is also looked upon as a down to earth and a generous man devoted to music. But very little is known about his personal life. Rahman was born in a Hindu family in Tamil Nadu.
The family converted to Islam after his sister had fallen severely ill and a Sufi had asked them to convert to Islam. It is said that in Sufism, his mother found great comfort. His mother, Kasturi Shekhar, then became Kareema Beegum. The family became ardent followers of Islam in the later years.
However, the Rahman family has become the centre of a major controversy after Tamil Hindu lyricist and poet Piraisoodan made an appalling revelation about the family’s behaviour. The noted rhymester recalls how AR Rahman’s family had voiced their abject derision towards the symbols and rituals connected with Hindu Dharma in front of him.
Having worked with Rahman in the past, Piraisoodan recollects an incident from the past. The poet narrates that Rahman had once invited him to his house and pen down lyrics for a song for an upcoming film. Honouring the invite, when the poet showed up at Rahman’s house, to his utter dismay, Rahman’s mother objected to the tilak adorning the poet’s forehead. She asserted that he must not wear tilak, kumkum, or Vibuthi while vising their house.
‘I refused to remove the Hindu religious marks on my forehead’, Piraisoodan narrates. It is pertinent to understand that the millions of devout Hindus in the south, particularly Tamil Nadu, apply the Vibhuthi and Kumkum tilak on the forehead regularly. In such a scenario, the incident narrated by Piraisoodan doesn’t speak very highly of the Rahman family. A man who showcases such respect for the Tamil culture, didn’t oppose his mother’s actions that were downright bigotry and disrespectful towards Tamil culture?
This was not the first time the Rahman family had stirred controversy by making communally charged comments. Rahman had once commented that the gods his father used to worship had killed him, reports OPIndia. His father was a Hindu, so we infer that the music director meant that the Hindu deities had killed his father. Rahman has raised his daughter Khatija Rahman to be a devout Muslim who is not seen in public without a full burqa. Khatija claims that the burqa empowers her not the Madisaru, a traditional Tamil drape. While we have no objection to Rahman following Islam and its principles, the admirers who have been loving his music for decades would also expect the bare minimum tolerance of their customs and respect for their deities from their icon. These deities were a revered part of the Tamil culture also.
However, now that Allahrakka Rahman has pronounced his loyalty towards Tamil, will the masterful musician dedicate the remaining of his musical career to serve Tamil only and bid goodbye to Hindi. It would be a great service if Rahman devoted his career to enriching Tamil music only. We are guessing his fans in the Hindi land, having known his real intentions, will understand and appreciate this action.