On why I don’t like A.R. Rahman ( that much )


I think A.R. Rahman is overrated. Not think, actually. He really is.

Before you embark on a verbal journey of hate and in-the-mind abuses, let me tell you that I am not against his music. I strongly feel that his music is not that rave which certain sections of the media and listeners have portrayed it to be. They have put him on such a pedestal as calling him, “The God of Music.”


A.R. Rahman is fantastic in the way he fuses his music … in his use of his instruments and for bringing alive a sound, no other composer has dreamt of. Yes. He is a brilliant composer and there is no second take on that.

But there is a slight difference between a music arranger/composer and being a music director in itself.

Barring his selected songs in Roja, Taal, Dil se & Rockstar, I fail to see his connect with my musical chord. My own boss calls me musically handicapped because I do not grasp how technically bang on Rahman’s music is.

Consider his latest – Highway. Apart from “Patakha Guddi,” there is NOT a single song that I feel stands up to his previous works. It’s not the kind of songs, I would put on repeat. I would turn the radio OFF.

I reiterate that I do not have any qualms with him being an international level music arranger or composer but considering Bollywood, his style of making music should only be restricted to background scores or instrumentals. Not with vocals. Firstly , I face huge difficulty in understanding his singers accents or their style of singing & secondly , his tunes are so overpowering , that the vocals are completely drowned. “ Maahi Ve,” is a perfect example.  I had the opportunity of watching A.R. Rahman perform LIVE @ the MTV Awards 2013 in Mumbai and must I say, the man is a performer. His knowledge of rhythm is so vast that it won’t be wrong to say he can compose a tune on the spot; I have a slight hitch when it comes to his expressing his love for Sufism, although.

Rahman is a huge fan of spirituality and the Sufi way of life. But then again, excluding his “Satrangi re” from Dil se, “Ramta Jogi” from Taal & my favorite “Khwaja Mere Khwaja,” as a Sufi lover myself, his songs do not connect to my inner being.

But yes, his Sufi is way progressive than any other present music director or composer that I know. Rockstar was one such album.

For me as a listener, a perfect music director is someone like Laxmikant-Pyarelal, Amit Trivedi, Salim- Suleiman, Mithoon and the stalwart O.P. Nayyar. Not only they combine excellent tunes with perfectly suited vocals, they also had the lucky streak to have had major names as lyricists’.

That one composition that I would give A.R. Rahman a 10/10 for is “VANDE MATARAM.” No other song can encompass the patriotism that the song captures.

Music is a very personal element for me. My views, however, disturbing or rubbish they may sound to you are mine. 



  1. Spirited away · March 4, 2014

    Totally with you on that. Some of his music from Slumdog Millionaire just annoyed me , the tunes are good but the lyrics are buried somewhere and all I heard was blablabla.

    • honeyak · March 4, 2014

      So true !!! Slumdog I feel was just the most over-the-top album and he got an effing Oscar for it !!!! ROJA deserved it !!!

      • Spirited away · March 5, 2014

        Exactly ! It was not Oscar material. Just cause it was directed by a non Indian director it got all the hype .

  2. Shah Shahid · March 4, 2014

    I don’t disagree with most of what you said, but I feel like your conclusions are based solely on his music alone, as standalone pieces. However, a Music Director of a movie, and a solo Music Artist are two totally different things. An artist has the freedom to create his work based on his own self expression or intentions. A Music Director of a film, is one part of a larger machine. His work is restricted to the story, theme, symbolism and nuances that the screenplay and Director demands.

    Despite the amazing tracks that Bollywood produces, none of those songs are meant to be experienced as stand alone works, but rather complimentary to the movie, scene, performances, visuals and many other variables that work symbiotically together. Just how certain sequences wouldn’t have the same affect without a score or a background track, the same can be said of the tracks themselves without the scene within the film.

    Ultimately, A.R. Rahman creates music for others, to suit their vision, be it on film or on stage. His solo Pop Albums can fall under the criteria for your criticism, as those reflect his own work, free from any other restrictions of expression.

    Awesome post though… loved your thought process, and I find his work to be pretty hit and miss too. He’s out on a pedestal maybe because his track record is better than most, and he creates more… ‘Indian’ scores, rather than submitting to the mass appeal of ‘remixes’ or ‘club tracks’, so he’s respected more?

    • honeyak · March 4, 2014

      Completely buy your point but here my concern is for him being a music director because he does not fulfil that role with the ease that he envelopes himself in a composers role ….

  3. FH · March 4, 2014

    So who touches your soul every album? Himesh Reshamiya?

    • honeyak · March 5, 2014

      Dear FH ,

      Not really him LOL . But yes its a lot of others who not only touch my soul but interrogate my mind too with their music . I do not think Rahman is bad …. I just have an issue with him being so overly appreciated even for music that is just average . 🙂

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      • Debraj · January 6, 2017

        I echo you , so true. I really appreciate that I found some guys like you who really know about music and give it a thought what enters in ear. Like most other blog and rating website is so foolish in sense that in one I found Tagore is 2nd to Rahman , what to say . LOL

  4. Ahmed · January 18, 2016

    I have never liked any ARR song. They just dont feel good on the ear. To me a great composer is one who can enthrall a common man with his tune and melody. ARR is handicapped in melody big time. He is no more than a mediocre musician, but he knows how to hype himself. Best ones are SJ, OP, Madan Mohan, SD Burman, LP, Nadeem Shravan, Anu Malik.

    In 90s Nadeem Shravan and Anu Malik were churning out melodies and foot tapping numbers while ARR positioned himself as something different (and abstract) but NOT melodious. He is a fake in my opinion.

    • honeyak · January 18, 2016

      I wouldn’t call him fake . That’s being too harsh . He is surely melodious but I feel his strength lies in being a composer or an arranger and not a Music Director . There have been films of his that were masterpieces like Saathiya , Guru , Roja and even Dil se but lately the music quality and even the songs have been deteriorating .
      He is certainly become too over-rated !

  5. Debraj · January 6, 2017

    Guys there are many great Indian Music directors whose name are even not known to most of the people, Like Jaydev, Anil Biswas etc. A. R Rahman is absolutely Over Rated like many other over rated people in so called Bollywood. Rahman is not even near to the older music directors. Its very evident that we still listen to their music even they are no more with us, but their music still live for so long time. I don’t think, or to be more precise I know Rahman’s Music will never endure that much of time. I don’t listen to his music as he is just born out of promotions. Indian music is great genre but he is actually destroying it. Plz listen to music from early days till date so you will get to know many things. Is it possible to compare Naushad’s music him, what a pity. And some people made him no 1 , just because of their poor knowledge.

  6. lifexplorer00 · February 22

    Wonderful post!!!
    Thanks for this.

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