Mani Ratnam and AR Rahman first collaborated on the 1992 film Roja and the music of the film was a nationwide hit. The songs were a hit in Tamil, and later even in Hindi, but Rahman was “heartbroken” when he first heard the soundtrack because “it had been badly mastered.”
In a recent interview with ETimes, Rahman shared that they resent the album for mastering a few times but had to eventually “compromise” because the release date was near. “I remember, in the very beginning, I was so heartbroken when I heard my Roja soundtrack, when it came from the master. It was so badly mastered and then it had to go back 3-4 times but by the time the date came and we had to compromise and say okay…”
In an earlier AMA on Rediff, Rahman had previously explained the reason behind the same and shared that at the time, the music systems used by the masses were of lower quality so they had to compromise on the quality of the sound to cater to them. “At the time of Roja, the consumer music systems used were of lower quality and we had to cater to a mono-magnetic tape. Hence we had to exaggerate the high frequencies and use a lot of spacializers. Things have changed in the course of time and we are right now taking a universal approach in the sound quality to make our recordings sound warm and friendly to every system.”
In an earlier interview with The Times of India, Rahman had shared that they had not expected the music of Roja to work on a national scale. “We didn’t even know that the music was going to work in Hindi, but it was so big in Hindi as well. So, the next movie, Bombay was such a challenge. This is one of the reasons why we settle for phonetics. Humma Humma or Chaiyya Chaiyya, they are all phonetics in a way, and so we can get away with not being region-specific,” he said.