Oscar and Grammy award-winning music composer of internationally-acclaimed films such as Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours and Warriors of Heaven and Earth A R Rahman visited the Global Indian International School (GIIS) Queenstown campus on 29 April 2014 to participate in a panel discussion with four GIIS Class 12 students as part of the GIIS Leadership Lecture Series.
It was an event that connected more than 700 students from 21 GIIS campuses across the world, as the dialogue was simulcast live through myGIIS portal, the school information website allowing students to join in the conversation with the singer and songwriter to ask him questions over a video link.
Mr Rahman arrived at the campus to loud cheers by students. Before proceeding to the campus hall, he paid homage to the statue of Mahatma Gandhi along with Global Schools Foundation Deputy CEO Mr Kaustubh Bodhankar, Global Schools Foundation COO and Regional Director, Middle East and Africa Mr Kamal Gupta, GIIS Country Director (Singapore) Mr Rajiv Vasudeva, Mrs Aparna Temurnikar, Mrs Smita Wargantiwar, GIIS Singapore Principals and team members. As he stepped on stage, students started cheering and clapping enthusiastically.
The event was also attended through Video Conference by students from GIIS campuses in Kulala Lumpur, Malaysia and Noida, Indore, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad - Uppal and Chinchwad - Pune in India. This event marked the first time that GIIS campuses such as the newly opened Ahmedabad, Hyderabad - Uppal and Chinchwad - Pune attended GIIS Leadership Lecture Series.
In a first for the series, four Class 12 students from GIIS Queenstown Campus conducted a panel discussion. Students Mayur Mohapatra, Shinil Raina, Swarnima Sirca and Utkarsh Dutta facilitated the interactive session between Mr Rahman and other GIIS students. Mr Rahman was in Singapore for a one-day concert, Infinite Love, held on 30 April 2014 at Gardens by the Bay - The Meadow.
Taking the school stage to the excited cheers, Mr Rahman took questions from students and spoke about his motivations and influences. Students from GIIS campuses in Chinchwad, Hyderabad - Uppal campus, Indore and Noida in India as well as students from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur took turns to speak to their favourite composer.
The double Grammy Award-winner showed tremendous humility as he answered questions from the students. For example, when Class 10 student, Prarthana, from GIIS Kuala Lumpur asked him, who are the people he admires in his personal and professional life, Mr Rahman answered: “I admire people who are uncompromising, who are patient and who have fair and not jump at every provocation. What I believe is that we are all capable of many extraordinary things but there is a step-by-step process for that. We need to lay the seed inside our heart and watch that grow. Things will orchestrate in such a way that if you lay your seed, you will definitely see something extraordinary grow. When I see people who have really extraordinary qualities, I really admire them. It’s not one, its many people.”
Mr Rahman also spoke about how he felt extremely nervous before his first performance. He said, “I felt so jittery. Even before my performances now I feel a little jittery but things are better. I was an introvert once upon a time. Standing in front of a lot of people I used to feel scared.”
As a passionate musician, Mr Rahman is a firm believer in the power of music. Answering the question from student Vivek Mallampatu of Class 10 from GIIS Uppal - Hyderabad, how important is the role of music in one’s learning years and school life, Mr Rahman said, “Music actually opens up something that is unexplainable within ourselves because we react to certain things in certain ways. If you are in a bad mood and you play music, it calms you down. When you play an instrument, it gives you discipline. Music is its own science. I’ve seen other musicians perform rather well in other areas too. And we can appreciate good music better when you know classical music.”
Later in the discussion he also added his thoughts on the importance of music in the world, saying, “People write a song and it changes the world. Music is healing. Most of the religions have music as prayer-Hindu music, Christian gospel, Sufi Qawwali, they have almost like therapy or prayer and that explains a lot.”
On a lighter note, curious students wanted to know where Mr Rahman gets his inspiration and motivation. Class 9 student Aparna Sajit from GIIS East Coast Campus asked, “Where did the idea for Infinite Love come from?” To which Mr Rahman answered, “Infinite love means unconditional love. The message behind it is: never cease, or never stop, loving. Actually love is not for receiving; it is for giving. You expect people to give you love but when you give love it is a better thing. It’s not only about helping other people; you will feel good about giving. It’s a state of mind-spiritually and mentally it feels very, very good. Love is such a thing. So if you take Infinite Love’s concept, it could be love between a mother and a child. I took the inspiration from my love for own son and wife and made the song.”
Mr Rahman’s visit was an uplifting experience for students across all GIIS campuses because it not only allowed them to pick the mind of a great musician it has also allowed them to strive towards excellence in whatever they do. Previous speakers who have attended the GIIS Leadership series include personalities such as, Nobel Laureate Professor Richard Ernst, Ms Leela Samson, Chairperson, Central Board of Film Certification, Olympic Gold medallist Mr Abhinav Bindra, Film Director Mr Mahesh Manjrekar and notable actor Mr Sachin Khedekar, Leading actor Hrithik Roshan & prominent film Director Mr Rakesh Roshan and acclaimed movie actor and director Farhan Akhtar.