Music runs in A. R. Rahman’s family! Khatija Rahman, daughter of A. R. Rahman, recently released a brilliant composition Farishton, her debut single, a song with a message of freedom and empowerment. Khatija is the daughter of Oscar-winning A.R. Rahman (her mother is Saira Banu), the famous music composer, singer and writer. Khatija is the elder sibling of Rahima Rahman and Ameen Rahman.
Khatija was born on 28 July 1996 in Chennai. She did her schooling in Chennai and graduated from Madras University. Since childhood she was fascinated by music and Sufism. She started her music career at the age of 14 when she made her music debut in 2010 with the song Pudhiya Manidhan from the film Enthiran. After this, she worked with several music directors, including her father A. R. Rahman, as a playback singer.
In 2019, A. R. Rahman and Khatija made their first conversation on a public stage at the 10th anniversary of Rahman’s Slumdog Millionaire. But this appearance took many by surprise as the young lady was dressed in a burqa at the function. Some of the attendees at the event were surprised when they saw the duo on the stage. Social media was buzzing with the news with many questioning Rahman on how he allowed his daughter to wear a burqa at the event. Khatija responded to the criticism in a positive way, saying that she is mature enough to choose her own dress and has the full freedom to choose what suits her.
Khatija was also criticized on her choice of clothing by Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen who tweeted that she felt ‘suffocated’ as she looked at the pictures of Khatija whose face was covered by a burqa. In her post she stated, “It is really depressing to learn that even educated women in a cultural family can get brainwashed very easily.” The Mozart of Madras responded to the tweet by stating that women in his family were free to wear whatever they wanted to. Khatija also replied rhetorically in a tweet when she said, “Dear Taslima Nasreen, I’m sorry you feel suffocated by my attire. Please get some fresh air, ‘cause I don’t feel suffocated rather I’m proud and empowered for what I stand for. I suggest you Google up what true feminism means because it isn’t bashing other women down nor bringing their fathers into the issue…”
Controversy apart, Khatija is concentrating on her love for music and isn’t bothered about what the world has to say about her dress and religious sentiments. She loves travelling and Dubai is one of her favourite destinations. She loves actors like Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan and South Indian star Rajnikanth, while her favourite singers include Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and of course, her dad, A. R. Rahman. Khatija, like her father, is an unassuming person, down-to-earth and keeps to herself.
Barring the controversy that surrounds her, in a rare interaction, 23-year-old Khatija shares the making of the song Farishton and her relationship with her illustrious father.
Verus Ferreira is a freelance music journalist for over three decades, contributing articles to various newspapers and magazines. He is the author of The Great Music Quiz Book and The Great Rock Music Quiz Book. Besides being a music aficionado, he is also a photo-journalist. He contributes to Musicunplugged.in. Reach him at E: email@example.com or verusferreira.com