Rahul Raj is an Indian music composer. He has composed and produced scores and soundtracks for Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil movies. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Berklee College of Music and holds a postgraduate degree in scoring for films, TV and video games.

Rahul Raj
Rahul Raj BNC.jpg
Background information
Born (1978-03-17) 17 March 1978 (age 44)
OriginCochin, Kerala, India
GenresFilm scores, soundtracks, albums
Occupation(s)composer, orchestrator, conductor, record producer, music director, singer, arranger, programmer
InstrumentsPiano, keyboards, MIDI Master keyboards, synthesizer, guitar, drums
Years active2007–present

Early lifeEdit

Rahul Raj was born on 17 March 1978 in Kochi to Advocate E. Thankappan and N. S. Kunjoonjamma. His schooling was in Bhavans Vidya Mandir, Elamakkara Cochin. He has one sister, Rehna Raj. From the age of 6, he was trained in Mridangam (South Indian Percussion instrument) and Carnatic Music. He graduated as an IT Engineer from CUSAT, Cochin and later on pursued courses such as CCNP and CCIE in Bangalore ILloka networks, before moving to London.[1][2]

During his stint in London, he underwent training in Electronic Sound Production. He helped Pradeep Menon, a UK-based Indian businessman, remix a Tamil Ayappa record that was originally produced, composed and sung by Pradeep Menon and Shashi Kumar in 1985. The devotional album produced in the UK, Canada and India is titled Sabari Beats.[3] It was released in November 2002 by Super recording in Tamil Nadu. Noted musicians like Pravin Mani, Saroja, and Kamalakar were featured. This launched Rahul Raj's career. He also arranged another song for Pradeep Menon called "Krishna Krishna" with percussionist Sivamani and James Asher from United Kingdom.[4]

CareerEdit

On returning to India, Rahul composed more than 100 jingles for commercials in Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi and Telugu. During this period, he had also composed original themes for many television productions, including shows for Asianet and Amrita TV.[5]

In 2003, he composed the anthem Lokaha Samastha for Amma's 50th birth anniversary, Amrithavarsam 50, which was later used as the theme song for Amrita TV. He composed Malayalam albums during the period, which include En Jeevane (Pularmanju pole), which was shot completely in the United States by producer–director Tom George Kolath. The song "Pularmanjupol Nee" from the album, rendered by Karthik and Sujatha, became an evergreen hit.

He was given the opportunity to compose the logo theme music for the show 50 Years of Malayalam Film Music with Padma Bhusan Dr. K. J. Yesudas.

His first feature film score and soundtrack were for Chotta Mumbai, directed by Anwar Rasheed and starring Mohanlal in the lead. His second release was Suresh Gopi's Time directed by Shaji Kailas. Shankar Mahadevan sang in one of his compositions for Chotta Mumbai.

In 2008, he replaced the trio Shankar–Ehsaan–Loy as the composer of the Malayalam feature film Maya Bazar, in which he worked with the Tamil film production company Ayngaran International. In the same year, he became the first music composer in Malayalam movie industry to have a registered fans' association, called RRFA (Rahul Raj Fans Association), based in Thiruvananthapuram.


In 2009, he composed for filmmaker Shyamaprasad's Ritu, for which he subsequently won the Vayalar Award. The award was given by a jury of old school musicians including K.P. Udayabhanu.

In 2010, he won the Kerala State Award for Best Background Score for Ritu. The same year, he was invited to University at Buffalo, The State University of New York to rework and expand Pomp and Circumstance Marches, the traditional convocation music used by them, composed by Sir Edward Elgar. In addition to expanding Edward Elgar's piece, he composed two original music pieces for the convocation, Dance of the Gods and The Circumstance by Rahul Raj.[6] In the same year he signed a project called Mathilukalkkapuram, a sequel to Adoor Gopalakrishnan's classic Mathilukal. The Mammootty starrer which also had Ravi K. Chandran and Resul Pookutty on board as cinematographer and sound designer respectively was subsequently shelved.[7]

In 2011, Rahul Raj made his debut in Telugu cinema by composing music for the SiddharthShruti Haasan starrer Oh My Friend.[8] The audio of the film opened to overwhelming responses and rave reviews, climbing to the No. 1 position in Telugu music charts, with the song "Maa Daddy Pockets" in particular becoming a rage among the youth. The audio went on to mark record sales of 3 lakh CDs within nine days of release.[9]

After almost a two-year hiatus, in 2012 he returned to the Malayalam industry by scoring for Amal Neerad's Bachelor Party. The songs became sensational hits and the background score received critical acclaim.[10][11]

In 2013, he composed for Kili Poyi, which was supposedly the first stoner film in Malayalam Cinema. Though the film opened to mixed responses, the title song became a huge hit.[12] Several critics hailed the background score as the most interesting technical aspect of the movie.[13]

Rahul had a dull opening in 2014 with the high budget romantic comedy London Bridge and Mannar Mathai Speaking 2 the much hyped sequel to the cult comedy classic Mannar Mathai Speaking failing at the box office. Rahul had composed only three tracks for London Bridge, as he had to leave the project owing to scheduling conflicts. Later in the year, the Telugu film Paathshala for which he had composed, became a box office success. Rahul's songs for the movie were received well,[14][15] but it was his background score that was unanimously praised by all reviewers, as a major plus point, crediting it to have elevated the movie to a different level.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

The year 2015, opened on a favourable note for Rahul, as his background score for the Mammootty starrer Fireman received praise.[27][28][29][30] His second release of the year was Sidhartha Siva's Ain which won the National Film Award for Best Feature Film in Malayalam. The month of August saw the release of his songs from Kohinoor, a heist film set in the 1980s. The song Hemanthamen went on to rake in unanimous praise from critics and public alike, being hailed as an outstanding nostalgic melody.[31]

With releases like Kasaba, IDI-Inspector Dawood Ibrahim making no significant impact, 2016 was a comparatively listless year for Rahul Raj.

The year 2017 opened on an excellent note with his song Lailakame from Ezra becoming a smash hit,[32] prompting several cover versions, including one by Rahul Raj himself.

In early 2018, the film Kuttanadan Marpappa met with negative reviews with the music too receiving a lukewarm response. He signed Academy Award Winner Resul Pookutty's multilingual titled The Sound Story directed by Pookutty's protege Prasad Prabhakar. The movie was touted to feature 164 tracks comprising background score pieces and 2 songs.[33] He composed the songs of the film, but opted out before composing the background score, as there were schedule conflicts with his stint in Berklee, Spain.[34] For the same reason, he also had to opt out of Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel after giving two songs.

In June 2019, he composed and conducted the symphonic piece Birth of the Nemesis, which was performed by the London Orchestra.[35] He returned from Europe in July 2019 and was immediately signed by Priyadarshan to compose the background score of his magnum opus Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, a historical epic set in the 16th Century. Having no release in 2020 due to pandemic-induced postponements, his first release after the 2020 lockdown was the Mammootty-starrer The Priest in early 2021. The film opened to mixed reviews, but the music met with overwhelmingly positive responses,[36] particularly the score with IBTimes hailing it as the major highlight of the film.[37] His first release in 2022 was the Mohanlal-starrer Aarattu, directed by B. Unnikrishnan which received predominantly positive reviews for the music. Meanwhile veteran director Sathyan Anthikad signed him to score his Jayaram-starrer Makal. His other upcoming releases are the Jaysurya-starrer Eesho directed by Nadirshah, the Nivin Pauly-starrer Thaaram directed by Vinay Govind and an untitled film directed by Rathish Ambat in Malayalam; Yaar in Tamil; and another untitled film in Hindi.[38][39]

OrchestrationEdit

Rahul Raj is known for giving ultra-modern orchestration in his songs. He uses international elements for the instrumentation in his songs. His background scores in particular are rich with elements of symphony and Western Classical music.[40]

Personal lifeEdit

Rahul is married to Miriam, a German national and has a daughter Akshaine, who was born in 2012.

Film discographyEdit

2000sEdit

Year Film Language Songs Score Director Other Notes
2007 Chotta Mumbai Malayalam Yes Yes Anwar Rasheed
Time Malayalam Yes Yes Shaji Kailas

Winner – JayCee Foundation Award for Best Music Direction

2008 Annan Thambi Malayalam Yes No Anwar Rasheed
Malabar Wedding Malayalam Yes Yes Rajesh-Faisal
One Way Ticket Malayalam Yes No Bipin Prabhakar
Maya Bazar Malayalam Yes No Thomas Sebastian
Crazy Gopalan Malayalam Yes No Deepu Karunakaran
2009 Ritu Malayalam Yes Yes Shyamaprasad WinnerKerala State Film Award – Best Background Score
Winner – Vayalar Movie Award – Best Music Direction

2010sEdit

Year Film Language Songs Score Director Other Notes
2010 Chekavar Malayalam Yes Yes Sajeevan
2011 Oh My Friend Telugu Yes No Venu Sriram Telugu Debut.
Winner – Maa Music Award – Best Debut Music Composer
2012 Bachelor Party Malayalam Yes Yes Amal Neerad
2013 Kili Poyi Malayalam Yes Yes Vinay Govind
Paisa Paisa Malayalam No Yes Prasanth Murali Background Score only.
D Company Malayalam No Yes Vinod Vijayan Anthology film.
Segment: Day of Judgement.
2014 London Bridge Malayalam Yes No Anil C. Menon Opening Credits Theme & 2 songs only.
Mannar Mathai Speaking 2 Malayalam Yes Yes Mamas K. Chandran
Kadavul Paathi Mirugam Paathi Tamil Yes Yes Raj-Suresh Tamil Debut.
Pathasala Telugu Yes Yes Mahi V. Raghav
2015 Fireman Malayalam No Yes Deepu Karunakaran
Ain Malayalam Yes Yes Sidhartha Siva
Kohinoor Malayalam Yes Yes Vinay Govind
Style Malayalam No Yes Binu Sadanandan Background Score only.
2016 Mudhugauv Malayalam Yes Yes Vipin Das
Karingunnam Sixes Malayalam Yes Yes Deepu Karunakaran
Kasaba Malayalam Yes Yes Nithin Renji Panicker
White Malayalam Yes Yes Uday Ananthan
IDI- Inspector Dawood Ibrahim Malayalam Yes Yes Sajid Yahiya
2017 Ezra Malayalam Yes No Jay K
E Malayalam Yes Yes Kukku Surendran
Sherlock Toms Malayalam No Yes Shafi
2018 Hey Jude Malayalam Yes No Shyamaprasad One song only.
Kaly Malayalam Yes Yes Najim Koya
Vikadakumaran Malayalam Yes No Boban Samuel
Kuttanadan Marpappa Malayalam Yes Yes Sreejith Vijayan
B. Tech Malayalam Yes Yes Mridul Nair
Ente Mezhuthiri Athazhangal Malayalam No Yes Sooraj Tom
Dakini Malayalam Yes No Rahul Riji Nair Guest composer. Two songs only.
The Sound Story Malayalam Yes No Prasad Prabhakar Announced by Resul Pookutty.
Multilingual film.[41][42]
2019 Kodathi Samaksham Balan Vakeel Malayalam Yes No B. Unnikrishnan Announced by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures. Guest composer. Two songs only.
Oru Nakshathramulla Aakasham Malayalam Yes No Ajith Pulleri, Suneesh Babu Guest composer. Two songs only.

2020sEdit

Year Film Language Songs Score Director Other Notes
2021 The Priest Malayalam Yes Yes Jofin T. Chacko
Lalbagh Malayalam Yes Yes Prasanth Murali
Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham Malayalam No Yes Priyadarshan
2022
Aaraattu Malayalam Yes Yes B. Unnikrishnan [43]
Freedom Fight Malayalam Yes Yes Jeo Baby Anthology film. Segment Old Age Home.
Eesho Malayalam No Yes Nadirshah
Thaaram Malayalam Yes Yes Vinay Govind
Makal Malayalam No Yes Sathyan Anthikad
Untitled Netflix Anthology segment Malayalam Yes Yes Rathish Ambat

Independent studio albumsEdit

The following section contains the independent studio album(s) composed, arranged and produced by Rahul Raj.

Year Title
2020 Indiasoundz: The Cosmic Series

Short FilmsEdit

Year Title Notes
2020 Hambre: A Post-apocalyptic Story
2020 Mattoru Kadavil

Awards and nominationsEdit

Award Year Project Category Outcome
Kerala State Film Award 2009 Ritu Best Background Score Won
Vayalar Movie Award 2009 Ritu Best Music Composer Won
Jay Cee Foundation Award 2007 Time Best Music Composer Won
Maa Music Award 2011 Oh My Friend Best Debut Music Composer (Telugu) Won
Flowers Music Awards 2018 Lailakame (Ezra) Best Song Composition Won

As President of FEFKA Music Directors' UnionEdit

In 2013, Rahul Raj was designated as the President of the FEFKA Music Directors' Union, the official association of film composers in the Malayalam film industry.[44][45]

ReferencesEdit

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  2. ^ "I Personally - Rahul Raj - Part 01 Kappa TV". YouTube. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  3. ^ "The Hindu : Extolling the deity of Sabari hill". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 1 February 2003. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 12 April 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 October 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2015.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ George, Liza (19 June 2010). "The right scores". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 5 November 2013. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
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  27. ^ T (19 February 2015). "Movie Reviews". Manoramaonline.com. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  28. ^ മനീഷ് നാരായണന് (19 February 2015). "ഫയര്മാന് | Southlive". Southlive.in. Archived from the original on 19 February 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
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  30. ^ Mathew, Tony (19 February 2015). "This Fireman sets fire to theatres". English.manoramaonline.com. Archived from the original on 18 March 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
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  33. ^ "Now, meet Resul Pookutty, the actor! - Times of India". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 13 October 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  34. ^ "A musical break". 3 September 2018.
  35. ^ "സ്വപ്നം യാഥാർഥ്യമായപ്പോൾ ഈ ഭൂമിയിൽ തന്നെയില്ല; മറഞ്ഞുപോയ ഹേമന്തത്തെ പറ്റി രാഹുൽ രാജ്".
  36. ^ "The Priest Review: A gripping mystery thriller!". 11 March 2021.
  37. ^ "The Priest movie review: Mammootty's film is a classic horror crime thriller". International Business Times. 11 March 2021.
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External linksEdit