Viral video: French fan catches AR Rahman in Dubai, serenades him with popular Hindi song

Celinedee Matahari talks about why the Indian maestro is 'her idol' and how the city has shaped her journey as a musician

by

Husain Rizvi

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KT Photos: Neeraj Murali
KT Photos: Neeraj Murali

Published: Sun 14 Jan 2024, 6:58 PM

Last updated: Sun 14 Jan 2024, 10:54 PM

Dubai-born singer and songwriter Celinedee Matahari was set to meet the music world's maestro A.R Rahman at a trailer release event in the city. But fate had other plans: the music composer was stuck in traffic, which led to the meet and greet getting cancelled.

Celinedee wasn't going to let that come in the way of meeting her idol, so she caught Rahman right outside the venue, which now is a viral moment. Several fan pages and meme accounts across India have picked on a video which shows a talented ukulele player asking Rahman, her idol, if she can play her favourite rendition of his. As she begins to sing Vande Mataram, Rahman records it in appreciation of the 15-year-old's musical prowess. The original video on Celinedee's TikTok page has over 2 million views and 180k likes. The short clip was even shared by Rahman on Instagram Story.

"Honestly, I am still in shock. It happened so fast," Celinedee confessed as we sat down to discuss the viral clip during her visit to the Khaleej Times office. "I can't believe it, but I am so grateful for all the support from India. They're so supportive of me and I am just so happy that they accept me."

Interestingly, the encounter took place exactly a month after she had performed the same song at the opening of the Climate Control Awards during COP28 in the UAE.

Although just 15, Celinedee has a profound interest in Rahman's music, with favourites dating back to 1992 like Chinna Chinna Asai, 2006's New York Nagaram, and others.

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What distinguishes Celinedee's musical journey is her eclectic taste and passion for exploring diverse cultures through music. Although her roots are in France and Indonesia, Celinedee grew up in Dubai, where she was surrounded by a rich tapestry of languages. It led her to start doing covers on YouTube, catering to requests from fans spanning Tagalog, French, Malayalam, and more.

"Music has no boundaries," she proclaimed, expressing her love for singing in up to 15 languages. "I just wanted to make my viewers happy, it is such a beautiful thing. Just because a song is in a different language, it shouldn't stop you from singing it. That grew on me and I just started to love singing in any language."

Celinedee further reflected on the city's multicultural environment, highlighting how it positively influenced her musical pursuits. Her interactions with friends from different countries fostered an appreciation for the diversity that Dubai offers, in turn leading her to make music in the languages more than one.

That explains her interest in languages that go beyond her mother tongue, and Celinedee acknowledged the challenges of singing in different languages. With the help of her mother's best friend, Celinedee says, she navigates the intricate task of mastering pronunciation, ensuring accuracy in her renditions.

The discussion shifted towards Celinedee's upbringing as a Dubai kid. Born into a musically inclined family, where her father plays piano, Celinedee's journey into music was a natural progression. Writing her first song at the age of nine, she has since composed over 16 original songs, making her mark on various musical platforms. She arrived At the Khaleej Times office with her personal ukulele, which features a signature from Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

Looking ahead, the teenage sensation expressed her aspirations to perform in India and travel the world with her music. She dreams of singing at the Dubai Opera and envisions a future filled with concerts, tours, and, hopefully, an album of original songs.

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