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May 09, 2014

GIIS students enjoy an interactive session with Music Maestro AR Rahman amidst pulsating applause

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Interactive session with Music Maestro AR Rahman

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.

Interactive session with Music Maestro AR RahmanIn 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.”

Interactive session with Music Maestro AR RahmanMr 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.”

Interactive session with Music Maestro AR RahmanOn 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.

Q&A between GIIS students and A. R. Rahman

Interactive session with Music Maestro AR Rahman Interactive session with Music Maestro AR Rahman

Prachi, Class 9, GIIS Queenstown Campus: What was the first musical instrument that you learned to play? And what was your first composition ever?
AR Rahman: The first instrument I played was the harmony. My father introduced the instrument to me. I don’t know what my first composition was but I remembered experimenting with the cassette player. Most of my first “compositions” involved experimenting with that.

Shubham Bakre, Class 7, GIIS Chinchwad Campus: How did you feel in your first live performance?
AR Rahman: 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.

Prarthana, Class, 10, GIIS Kuala Lumpur Campus: Who are the people that you admire in your personal and your professional life?
AR Rahman: I admire people who are uncompromising, who are patient and who have fair and not jump at every provocation. I think for us... 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, it’s many people.

Arushi, Class 7, Noida Campus: Your words in the song, Maa Tujhe Salaam, have inspired us all. What does it mean for you?
AR Rahman: For me as the song, Maa Tujhe Salaam, is about patriotism. That means His Love. When I am conflicted by challenges, when I get failure, I think that’s inherent within me reflecting that piece.

Nikita Shanbaug, Class 5, GIIS Balestier Campus: We have so many genres of music, what is the main difference between Indian classical and western classical music?
AR Rahman: The word classical comes from class. Cultures changes, time periods change, but some things remain like musicality. Now we listen to newer music but we still adore classical music like Rajani and Kathakali. We need to grow or study those and once we do and then move on. For me that has been... I know classical music but at the same time I move forward.

Tejant, Class 9, GIIS Queenstown Campus: You scored a song in the Mandarin film the Warriors of Heaven and Earth in 2003. Did you do a lot of research on Chinese music?
AR Rahman: I did, quite. But then music comes from the heart and it has to be personal. I took the essence of Chinese culture-whatever of it that I could understand-and I made it my own.

Ananya, Class 10, GIIS Kuala Lumpur Campus: Did you ever expect to win an Oscar?
AR Rahman: No.

Aparna Sajit, Class 9, GIIS East Coast: Where did the idea for your album, Infinite Love, come from? What is the meaning behind it?
AR Rahman: It is self-explanatory. 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.

Vivek Mallampatu, Class 10, GIIS Hyderabad Campus: How important is the role of music in one’s learning years and school life? Do you think it should be given an equal standing with other subjects?
AR Rahman: Yes, because 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.

Vanshikha Agarwal, Class 8, Chinchwad Campus: You are also very dedicated and associated with so much work in humanitarian and philanthropic work. What is the motivation behind it?
AR Rahman: It doesn’t seem like what it seems outside. You know, somebody’s famous and every little thing we do looks like we’re feeding the whole world. It’s not like that. I wish I could do more. For me, after a while, the fame is like another entity. I was always thinking that I should use it the right way. So I started my foundation and campaigning against poverty. Educating the poorest kids was a main motivator for me. It has been five years and we are starting to see the fruits of our labour so it has been quite good.

Riya Sethi, Class 7, GIIS Noida Campus: What role can music play in the world?
AR Rahman: You’ve seen that before haven’t you? 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.

Owing to shortage of time Mr Rahman could not answer the following questions from students present in the auditorium and on Video Conference.

Balestier, Singapore, Shraddha Sriram, Class 5
Sir, did you have a rock band earlier? Are you still in touch with your band members and do you jam together?

Indore, India, Keshav Jakkariya, Class 7
Sir, If you made a film - who or what would it be about?

East Coast, Singapore, Rujuta Athalye, Class 7
Sir, You were already into music at a very early stage and have achieved so much at such a young age. Could you share some of the difficulties you faced, if at all they were there and guide us as how to deal with any such times in our lives.

Hyderabad, Uppal, Sahana Bopparaju, Class 10
Sir, You have worked in Hindi, South and Hollywood films, but how do you work on the music of a particular state like you did in Highway?

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