Taj Noor
Interviewer : Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Daya Kingston
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Taj Noor who has assisted A.R.Rahman for 14 years, made his debut with Vamsam. The songs in this film were well-received and now there’s no turning back for this talented music director. We catch up with him.

Hello Everyone! I am Taj Noor. I have made my debut as music director with Vamsam. I greet all Behindwoods viewers.

What was it like assisting AR. Rahman?

I have worked as an assistant to A.R Rahman Sir for the past 14 years and it was a good experience. I would take care of all song backup activities. Ever since digital technology entered the music field, I have been with him. That was the initial period when we started using computers for song composing.

Initially, I had the major responsibility of maintaining all the back-ups for the work done. In those days, the work needed to be saved efficiently to avoid any loss of composed work due to erratic power supply. If that was not done properly, we might lose the entire work.

Is there any memorable experience you can share?

There are many. It happened when we were working for the movie Dil Se, the RR was going on and even the release date was announced. Everyone was very busy including 50 violinists. I did not have the time to back-up as things were very hectic. Suddenly, there was a power cut and the hard disc where the work was stored got hung.

We tried to retrieve it in many ways and it was of no use. However, AR Rahman sir was under the impression that I must have taken the back-ups for the work in hard disc. When I conveyed that I had not, he was tensed and so was Mani Ratnam sir. The amount of loss would have been in lakhs since the project involved the work of many technicians and time.

As a technician, I knew nothing could really be done. Nevertheless, I was trying to rectify the hard disc error with the help of another senior technician Shiva Kumar. We worked for the whole night but we had nothing worked for us. Since all of us had not slept for a week, the rest of the crew went home to sleep, the hard disk seemed dead.

The next morning, Rahman Sir walked up to us... but he seemed really cool in his voice and attitude. He went in to the room for his prayers. He came back after five minutes and asked me to switch on the hard disc. I was totally shocked to see the hard disc was ready to recover the back up. Though it was not working, I was still able to copy the work stored in that. I would say it was merely a miracle happened that day and I can also say that was only because of AR Rahman's true faith in God. I have never seen such a wonderful and hardworking person like AR Rahman.

What is his composing style?

He has his own working style. He prefers to compose music in a calm and peaceful atmosphere. During Rangeela, he would work from his guest house in ECR. Normally, he would come out of the composing area with many tunes in hand and it was our responsibility to co-ordinate with the film directors and edit the preferred track accordingly. He composes alone.

What was it like working for period films with him?

He likes period films and needs a heavy orchestra. He would be very tensed and very involved 24x7. He takes a lot of time for period films like Lagaan with lot of players. There are many differences work-wise compared to other films.

How did he react to his Oscar nomination?

One evening we came to know about the Oscar nomination. Normally, whatever the award, he would not make much of it and continue with his work. Only we would be happy and when we went to wish him, he would change the subject by saying come let’s work. I was there when he got nominated and he was very happy. Then he stopped work and spent time on it. And he was happy he had 2 Oscars. For the first time, he really showed the happiness outside.

Tell us about your first break

Even before I could start my composition for the movie Vamsam, I had signed up for the Aayiram Mutham which is almost ready for its release now. The director of this movie Shanmuga Raj was assisting director Cheran earlier. I have composed Western based songs for the film.

Working with Pandi Raj gave me

more confidence

Vamsam’s director Pandi Raj is a very good friend of Shanmuga Raj and one fine day he came to listen to the tracks. Initially, I started with the city based subject and I was very comfortable with that. However, Vamsam is totally a village based subject and initially I had doubts about handling it but yet had the confidence that I would manage to compose it.

I was a bit nervous when I started working and initially I had no idea to shape the first song Mannadi Mannar. I worked in bits and later on I was able to get it in to a fantastic order of composition. The song has got a lot of appreciation as well. I am really happy for that.

Working with Pandi Raj gave me more confidence since he is a very soft natured and friendly person to move with. I would say our combination worked and finally we got what we had in ourselves. There was no tension while working, he’s very understanding and I could work easily.

However, in particular he

mentioned that the Maruthani

song had come out very well

What did A.R.Rahman feel about Vamsam’s music?

During the audio release, he was not in town and returned only after 2 months. He said he was very busy and could not listen to all the tracks but said he would. However, in particular he mentioned that the Maruthani song had come out very well. I also received a lot of appreciation from AR Rahman's family members, especially from his mother and sister who appreciated all the songs saying that they were very good.

Tell us about your musical experience with AR. Rahman?

When I talk about the musical experiences which I have gained from A.R. Rahman, I should also be speaking about the experiences I have gained to become a better human being. Those who have worked with him will be different from the rest of those in cinema. Musically, what I learnt in those 14 years has enabled me to compose for this film.

Musically, what I learnt in those

14 years has enabled me to

compose for this film.

After they heard it, there were

tears in their eyes

What are you currently working on?

The Chemmozhi Maanadu has a song for Tamilians across the world. I received a similar opportunity to make a song for Tamilians across the world after Vamsam. The Srilankan magazine Veera Kesari was to celebrate its 80th Anniversary and they wanted a song. They approached Rahman and since he was busy I got the opportunity. They asked me to do something on the lines of the Chemmozhi Maanadu song. Vairamuthu has penned the lyrics and almost 12 singers including SPB, Anuradha Sriram, Tippu and others have sung. This will release soon. Some of the team had come to hear the song and after they heard it, there were tears in their eyes. Then I felt what I had done was correct.

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