Just 22, and he gets a personal call from Rajini, telling him his Kuselan music album is a benchmark in Tamil movie music. Find out in this exclusive Behindwoods interview why he and his uncle, A.R. Rahman, never discuss music when they meet, why he dislikes remix songs, and his burning desire to bring home India’s first Oscar.
"Please stop comparing Rahman and me."

BW: On the Kuselan album

GV: The movie is a very emotional story about two friends. One, played by Pasupathy is an ordinary man, and the other played by Rajini, is a superstar called Ashok Raj. Now the songs for each character is different in sensibility: a song like Sollamma, Sollamma reflects the life of Pasupathy, a song like Perinba talks about a superstar’s awesome achievements. Om Zaarere is Rajini’s duet, Nayan’s song, Chaaral is more hip and modern. The idea was to have different emotions in each song that suits the character. Here the Superstar appears in the movie for an hour, unlike in the Malayalam original where Mamooty only does a cameo. The scale of the songs for Superstar here have been done spectacularly.

What has been the Superstar’s reactions to the album?

He loves it. He has called me at least twice on my mobile to tell me that I have crossed the records of any other Tamil music album. Rajini Sir and I have become good friends! (Laughs). It’s amazing to hear him say ‘we are setting new records’. Om Zaarere is being played everywhere –I hear it even in cars. But I tell myself always: okay, you’ve made a hit song. Now move on and see how you can do better with your next album.

Which songs does Rajini particularly like?

If you’re looking at melody, he likes Sollamma, if you’re thinking of a hit, he likes Om Zaarere.


Rajini called me at least twice on my mobile

How difficult is to compose music for the Superstar?

See, it depends on the composer. If you give me a choice between two difficult song situations and two easy song situations, I’ll take the tougher one. That’s my character: to take on a challenge. And in Kuselan I’ve met that challenge in such a way that the Superstar is pleased.

Are you satisfied with the album?

I am very satisfied – I think it’s my best to date.

Rahman and myself like our own space


What has Rahman said about the album

Well, he likes the Chaaral song and the Cinema, Cinema song. And that was great to hear from the legend.

How difficult is to be A.R’s nephew –what are the expectations and pressures of that?

First of all, there is no comparison between us. That is all the work of blogs and fans. You have to take that away from your mind and listen to my music independently. Then you’ll see that my music is different from A.R. Besides, as a family we don’t meet to discuss music. We meet rarely and when we do we talk about other things. If A.R. says something about my music it will be to my sound engineer, and then I get to hear from him that he liked such and such song. I heard that he liked my songs in Veyil. That’s how we are: we like our own space.

What are your personal ambitions?

I have a long way to go. I’m just starting. But I’d like to bring the first Oscar to India. I’d like to aim for something like that.

Who are your favorite music composers?

Apart from Rahman, I like Ennio Morriccone, Hans Zimmer and James Horner. In Bollywood, I like Shankar, Eshan, Loy.

Have you heard Dasavatharam’s music?

Himesh does what he knows best in his style. I liked Oh Ho Sanam song

What is your method?

I do two songs in my style, and I let the director choose the rest. I give the option to them. I give the directors a lot of space.


I’d like to bring the first Oscar to India

What inspires you?

Even a painting can inspire me. Or a story. The story in Veyil inspired me very much.

Your feelings about Veyil?

I am thrilled that my very first movie went to Cannes, and won the National, State and Filmfare award. Thanks to Vasantha Balan. The combo worked out superbly.

For the cinema, cinema song in Kuselan one of the people you had called to appear in the song is director Vijay of Kreedom. Why did you choose him?

We think on the same wavelength. We discuss each other’s work. We go out to dinner. He has been a great help to me. And a really nice person. Recently for my birthday-which was June 13th, he threw a surprise party for me. I thought one way to return his gesture was to include him in the song as a way of honoring him.

When do you feel fully satisfied with a song?

Only after the final mix is over. Before that I am never satisfied. Also, I know when I’m tuning a song that it could be a hit. Such as Urugudhe. And for Polladavan and Veyil I got claps in the theatre for the hit songs.

How do you choose a particular playback voice for a song?

I know it instinctively. For instance, for Om Zaarere I just knew it had to be sung by Daler Mehendi. And I invited him to sing it. Veyil I thought will be good for Kailash Kher’s voice, and I got him to do it.

One song in Kuselan goes up to 7 minutes rather than the usual five.

The song required it because at one point at the end of the story the movie shifts to Kerala, and that’s where the extra two minutes of the song comes in.

You seem to dislike doing remix songs.

I’ve just begun composing. Why should I resort to remix? I have so many tunes to offer to cinema. That’s why I avoid them. However, for a forthcoming Selvaraghavan film, the visuals require it. In this case I am doing a remix. They have already spent so much on the song, I can’t come and spoil that.

What do you tell your playback singers usually?

To co-operate as much as possible, and not give excuses like I was held up elsewhere and so I am late. Also, to give their maximum when singing.

Directors you’d like to compose for?

Mani Sir. In Bollywood, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Faran Aktar.

Fave playbacks?

Lata Mageshkar, Rahman’s voice I like very much. Chitra madam, Alka Yagnik, Shankar Mahadevan – and a lot of other singers.

When I hear New York Nagaram, I can’t move.


Fave songs?

From Jillunu Oru Kadhal- New York Nagaram. When I hear that song, I just have to sit down and hear it fully, and only then continue with what I’m doing. Luka Chuppi from Rang De Basanti, and the duet song from Ilayaraaja Sir’s Hey Ram.

Actors to compose for?

SRK, Rajini, Nana Patekar, Kamal. Especially after seeing Dasavatharam, I have become a big fan. How seamlessly he has pulled off ten characters. Among heroines, Kajol, Simran and Jyothika.

Your age?


Love letters from fans?

A lot of fan mail but none of them are love letters from girls. If I get one, I’ll make sure to send it to Behindwoods!

Any plans to hold a live concert?

Yes! We plan to hold one soon. All the singers for Kuselan will be there, and it will be a live Kuselan concert.

Your most memorable experience in the industry so far?

When Rajini Sir called me and said Kuselan was a great album. Suddenly the phone rang, and the voice on the other end says, Hello, this is Rajinikanth. For a moment, I was frozen. I kept thinking: how can I save this call?!


I desperately wanted to save Rajini’s call

Director - K.v. Anand Actress Tamanna Cinematographer - Ravi varman Actress Divya Director Perarusu