Allah Rakha Rahman was born A.S. Dileep Kumar on January 6, 1966, in Madras (now Chennai), India, to a musically affluent family. Dileep started learning the piano at the age of 4, and at the age of 9, his father passed away. Since the pressure of supporting his family fell on him, he joined Ilayaraja's troupe as a keyboard player at the age of 11. He dropped out of school as a result of this and traveled all around the world with various orchestras.
He accompanied the great tabla maestro Zakir Hussain on a few world tours and also won a scholarship at the Trinity College of Music at Oxford University, where he studied Western classical music and obtained a degree in music. Due to some personal crisis, Dileep Kumar embraced Islam and came to be known as A.R. Rahman. In 1987, he moved to advertising, where he composed more than 300 jingles over 5 years. In 1989, he started a small studio called Panchathan Record Inn, which later developed into one of the most well-equipped and advanced sound recording studios in India.
At an advertising awards function, Rahman met one of India's most famous directors, Mani Ratnam. Rahman played him a few of his music samples. Mani loved them so much that he asked Rahman to compose the music for his next film, Roja (1992). The rest, as they say, is history. He went on to compose several great hits for Tamil-language films before composing the score and songs for his first Hindi-language film, Rangeela (1995). The enormous success of his first Hindi venture was followed by the chart-topping soundtrack albums of films such as Bumbai (1995) , Dil Se.. (1998), Taal (1999), Zubeidaa (2001), and Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001), which was nominated for best foreign-language film at the 2002 Academy Awards.
More recently, he worked with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Shekhar Kapur (director of Elizabeth (1998)) on a musical called "Bombay Dreams." At 36 years old, A.R. Rahman has revolutionized Indian film music and one can only expect this musical genius to reach greater heights.
Studied Western classical music as a student at Oxford University in the UK.
He was nominated for a 2003 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award (The Hilton Award) for Best New Musical of 2002, "Bombay Dreams," performed at the Apollo Theatre, West End, London, and on Broadway in New York City.
On August 15, 1997, he released an album called "Vande Mataram," on Columbia/SME Records, to commemorate 50 years of Indian independence. A tribute to the motherland, it featured songs for each of the Indian flag colors. The album was released simultaneously across the world in 28 countries, and Rahman himself performed in New Delhi to a packed audience including the honorable Indian Prime Minister. Over 1.2 million copies were sold in India alone.