Generally regarded as the finest Indian film composer of his time (and certainly the most commercially successful), Rahman produced music for dozens of widescreen releases just during his first five years in the industry. At 16, he quit school and was following in his father's footsteps (R. Shekhar was a successful film musician, arranger, and conductor himself), working full-time as a session musician on soundtracks under the popular South Indian composer Ilaiyaraaja.

He has worked with many of his country's brightest music stars and a growing list of international luminaries, including Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Zakir Hussain, L. The monotony soon grew tiring however, and at the suggestion of a colleague, Rahman tried his hand at television commercials, eventually composing over 300 jingles in just five years.

Rahman finally seemed poised on the brink of the international success he desired.

Roja became the equivalent of an Indian crossover success.

Originally filmed in South Indian Tamil, it was re-dubbed (and its soundtrack re-recorded) in Hindi, the language of North India's famous Bollywood film center.

His song "Amma Endru Azhaikatha Uyir Illaiye" is carved in the stone in a temple in Trichy.

He was honoured by the Government of India with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour.

In 2005 he opened AM Studios -- regarded as one of the foremost recording facilities in Asia -- as an adjunct to Panchathan Record Inn, and the following year the composer established his own record label, KM Music.

Rahman served as musical director for nearly 50 films from 2001 through 2008, the majority being Hindi- or Tamil-language movies, including noteworthy collaborations with Roja and Bombay director Mani Ratnam (Kannathil Muthamittal, Ayutha Ezhuthu/Yuva, Guru).During that time, he also worked with Rajiv Menon (Kandukondain Kandukondain), Shaad Ali (Saathiya), Ashutosh Gowariker (Swades), and S.Shankar (Boys, Sivaji), the latter of whom, like Ratnam, also directed a number of films scored by Rahman during the '90s.When Sharada Trilok's ad for Leo Coffee (for which Rahman penned the music) won her an award, she introduced the young composer to her cousin, Mani Ratnam.Impressed with his work, the director signed Rahman to compose the music for K. Rahman's score, a colorful, uncluttered combination of pop, rock, reggae, and his country's traditional music, reshaped the genre, winning him three awards for Best Music Director.Andrew Lloyd Webber chose Rahman to compose the music for his Bombay Dreams, a musical based on the Bollywood film industry.