AR Rahman recreates voices of dead singers using AI for ‘Laal salaam’

Rahman said his team took due permission to use AI software for recreating the voices of late singers Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed for a track in Rajinikanth’s new film Lal Salaam.

AR Rahman (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

By:
Mohnish Singh

Music composer AR Rahman has said that his team took due permission to use AI software for recreating the voices of late singers Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed for a track in veteran actor Rajinikanth’s new film Lal Salaam.

The two artists, who had worked with Rahman on multiple projects before their deaths, are credited as playback singers for the track “Thimiri Yezhuda”.

“The mesmerizing voices of Bamba Bakya & Shahul Hameed in #ThimiriYezhuda from #LalSalaam made possible by @timelessvoicesx AI voice models.

“This marks the first time in the industry that a late legend’s voice has been brought back to life,” the official handle of music studio Sony Music South posted on X on Monday.

Commenting on the studio’s post, Rahman said his team had taken permission from the families of Bakya and Hameed to recreate their voices for the song.

“We took permission from their families and sent deserving remuneration for using their voice algorithms ..technology is not a threat and a nuisance if we use it right…#respect #nostalgia,” he wrote.

Bakya, who crooned popular numbers such as the latest ‘Ponni Nadhi’ in Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan, died in September 2022 at the age of 42. He had also sung the tracks “Pullinangal” from Rajinikanth’s 2.0, “Kalame Kalame” from Vijay’s Bigil, and “Simtarangaran” from Sarkar.

Before he died in 1998, Hameed worked extensively with Rahman for films such as Gentleman, Jeans, and Kadhalan.

Rajinikanth’s Lal Salaam is directed by his filmmaker-daughter Aishwarya Rajnikanth. The film, which also features Vishnu Vishal and Vikranth, will release on February 9.