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A R Rahman: Virtual Reality did something to me emotionally

Music Maestro A R Rahman’s favourite music track ‘Vande Mataram’ was launched in Virtual Reality format at NFDC’s Film Bazaar on Wednesday. Giving the viewer a 360 degree experience, this technology allows for a magical viewing experience. In conversation with Nasreen Munni Kabir at the Knowledge Series Rahman spoke to a packed audience about his experience with Virtual Reality – the next big thing
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While he believes that the technology which merges art will be one to open new doors, he doesn’t deny that it is still in the nascent stage and has a lot to be explored. While he has been an avid movie buff, Virtual Reality (VR) is something that has got him hooked completely, at least for now. “VR did something to me emotionally,” he said.
For someone like Rahman who has always used technology to boost his music, he believes that the combination of music and technology has been merging slowly over the past two decades. He said: “Now is a time when the combination of music and technology is becoming very challenging. It’s like theatre coming back in a totally different form.”
Dispelling doubts of whether musicians would have to undergo special training he said that musicians would be the same while the concept of putting the music together will undergo changes. “It was impossible before for a musician to be at one place (stage) and to reach a wide audience. But now the distance is demolished through Virtual Reality.”
This means that as a musician whose concert on VR can be viewed all over, the feeling of being on stage would mean a lot different. The audience would not just be live, but all over the globe. They could be sitting anywhere and watching the concert as if they were present there. While he said that at certain times it depends whether it’s okay for a musician to share that space on an open platform, he is happy that people all over the globe can experience a concert through Virtual Reality which is very personal.
Rahman said that he has always been interested in technology, and probably that’s the reason he is ahead of his counterparts in using technology and music. “If you dismiss technology, it dismisses you,” he said while explaining how the mobile phone is much more than a device used for calls and messages.
Talking about how Virtual Reality will change the dimension for traditional music he said that traditional instruments will in fact get a new lease of life and will sound more realistic and personal, according to him.
Virtual Reality has become an interesting aspect in his journey as a musician, he said: “It has brought about a whole new excitement in me. There is a whole new path to be discovered. It’s like when you are in music or the same profession for years, you tend to get bored. That’s not good for the profession. There is something that needs to excite you. This is that new idea which has opened a whole new territory. Besides opening a new direction, it also challenges you.”
He believes that people shouldn’t be reluctant to experience or work with Virtual Reality because it is technical. The musician should forget about the technology and instead focus on the beautiful experiences through the nuances of shooting video and audio. Organic things like dances, theatre, etc, will get more value where you can see everything close, upfront.
When asked about what happens when two perfectionists like him and S Shankar come together to work on a film ‘2.0’ he said with a burst of laughter, “We delay the project.”

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