If Bollywood Can Snub India’s Best Musicians, AR Rahman & Resul Pookutty, Do “Outsiders” Have Any Hope?

Bollywood

If Bollywood Can Snub India’s Best Musicians, AR Rahman & Resul Pookutty, Do “Outsiders” Have Any Hope?

Illustration: Reynold Mascarenhas

The controversy around the nepotism debate – ignited by the death by suicide of actor Sushant Singh Rajput – has not even begun to subside, when Bollywood has cropped up in yet another shameful secret. Two of India’s best musicians, Oscar winners AR Rahman and Resul Pookutty, have revealed that they had trouble finding work in Bollywood.

In an interview with Radio Mirchi, Rahman, who has scored Bollywood’s best loved soundtracks like Taal, Dil Se, Guru, Rockstar, and Tamasha among others, said, “I don’t say no to good movies, but I think there is a gang, which, due to misunderstandings, is spreading some false rumours.”

Rahman has also composed the music for Dil Bechara, Sushant Singh Rajput’s last film which released this weekend on a streaming platform. According to the “Mozart of Madras”, the film’s director Mukesh Chhabra also told him that people had dissuaded Chhabra from approaching Rahman. “I heard that, and I realised, yeah okay, now I understand why I am doing less (work in Hindi films) and why the good movies are not coming to me,” he said. “I am doing dark movies, because there is a whole gang working against me, without them knowing that they are doing harm.”

Still, with characteristic grace and humility, Rahman said that he believed in destiny and God. “So, I am taking my movies and doing my other stuff. But all of you are welcome to come to me. Make beautiful movies, and you are welcome to come to me.”

The interview sparked the interest of filmmaker Shekhar Kapur, who said that Rahman was too good for Bollywood, due to his Oscar win, for the 2009 Danny Boyle film Slumdog Millionaire.

Kapur’s tweet, in turn, urged sound designer Resul Pookutty to make a revelation of his own. Pookutty, who also won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, spoke about how he experienced a near breakdown, when production houses told him that he was “not needed”.

The revelations were – predictably – met with outrage on social media.

Other Twitter users spoke about how much Rahman’s music stood out – especially in useless Hindi movies that didn’t even deserve his songs.

Vivek, the lyricist of films like Mersal and Bigil, said that even a broken AR Rahman CD sounded much better than the score of an average Bollywood film.

Actress Simi Garewal also expressed shock.

Writer Shobhaa De referred to the viciousness of Bollywood.

Could this be a bias against South Indian artists? The Tamil and Malayalam film industries have robust followings of their own, and have routinely been lauded for innovative storylines and filmmaking techniques. Some users spoke about how even southern superstars like Kamal Hassan had been ignored by Bollywood.

Apurva Asrani, National Award-winning screenwriter and editor of films like Aligarh, stated that the “powerful gang up surreptitiously” and use trolls and the media to “cancel” stars like AR Rahman and Pookutty.

Rahman, however, was the epitome of grace and good humour. Despite the anger he sparked online, the Mozart of Madras urged his well-wishers to just move on.

Bollywood truly doesn’t deserve him.

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