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Arts and Entertainment: A.R. Rahman

MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images

Arts and Entertainment: A.R. Rahman

Age: 43
Musician and Composer

Long the voice of modern Indian pop music, Rahman this year earned international recognition as the Oscar-winning composer of the soundtrack for Slumdog Millionaire. He has brought an urban sophistication to Bollywood soundtracks, mixing jazz, rock, and reggae influences with Indian classical music, and using electronic sound-editing, initially uncommon in India, to complement lyrics from some of India's best-known poets and songwriters. His songs have often catapulted even lackluster films to box-office success.