DID YOU READ

A.R. Rahman talks “People Like Us,” working with Danny Boyle and finding a superhero franchise to score

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There are plenty of reasons to see “People Like Us” when it hits theaters today, but one of the more interesting ones is the fact that it was scored by “Slumdog Millionaire’s” A.R. Rahman and indie rock singer Liz Phair. This type of Hollywood film is a new experience for Rahman, and was a challenge he was happy to take on.

IFC had the chance to chat with Rahman in a recent phone interview and talk about some of his inspirations going in to scoring Alex Kurtzman’s directorial debut. We also hit on topics like his upcoming collaboration with Danny Boyle for the Olympics, the major differences between composing in Hollywood and India and what superhero franchise he’d like to work for.

IFC: What is your process like going into a movie like “People Like Us,” which is largely a family drama? What elements of the movie did you approach first?

A.R. RAHMAN: When I read the script I felt that it should have a certain lightness about the score. Initially, I had a different idea of the score. I wanted to make it more string oriented and more classical. But then I think it kind of drowned the movie with emotion, so I went on the lighter side with guitars and making it feel lighter; even though there’s a problem, it’s cool and it’s going to be okay. Kind of sending a hope message in the tonality of the score.

IFC: I know this is a really personal story for Alex Kurtzman, so how did the two of you work together to make sure that the tone was exactly what he wanted for the movie?

ARR: I met him before he was shooting the movie and before he was about to shoot with the script, and at that time he had another idea, but it evolved. Once we shot the movie, we had brainstorming sessions and he would play with some stuff and I would play with some stuff. So we kind of arrived at this slowly. Like, film ends, we were trying to discover what would be right, and the main challenge was how do you make the music like a lullaby rather than a love song. There’s a very thin line. [laughs] You play the wrong note, and it sounds like a love story.

IFC: Well, it is a love story in a certain way, just not necessarily a romantic one.

ARR: Yeah. It had to have the tone of lullaby, of two children who are communicating and not two adults in a different way.

IFC: You mentioned strings and guitars, but were there any other specific instruments that you wanted to use in this score?

ARR: I wanted to make it like a chamber session, not like a big epic orchestra. I mean, this thing was so in your face, because anything that we’d change it would just show so badly on screen. I loved working on the score. It was a huge experience for me.

IFC: You’ve scored quite a few movies in Hollywood, but you’ve also got a massive career in Bollywood, so what are some of the major differences you’ve found between the two industries?

ARR: Back in India, you just do a couple of songs and then people go and shoot and then come back and ask for more songs, and the movie goes forward and then you do the score. But here in Hollywood I think it’s like being locked, and you have three months of scoring time and everything has to come that time. Most of the movies I’ve done, the writing thing and then approval and then recording, and then we create. I don’t do anything else during that time. It’s completely dedicated for only that movie, so that’s the major difference.

When I come here to do a Hollywood movie, people understand, ‘Oh, you don’t want to do anything else. You’ll just do that.’ Back in India, I have like seven studios, I have like five or six writing bases, and the string section goes on, I do some lyrics in another room and a new arrangement or something in one room and imagine new songs all at the same time.

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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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IFC: How would you describe Janice and Jeffrey to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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