AR Rahman is renowned worldwide for his music composition, but now he has taken a new avatar - as a film producer and scriptwriter, with 99 Songs, an Indian multi-lingual musical romance film releasing this Friday (Apr 16) in three languages - Hindi, Telugu, and Tamil.

Speaking to Malaysian reporters via Zoom in a briefing session ahead of the movie's release, yesterday, the maestro said he's creating "life, soul, and art" through his debut project, as opposed to mere content.

The movie, directed by Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy, is co-written by Rahman and produced via his maiden production banner YM Movies. He has also composed the original score and songs for the film, which tells about the struggles of a singer in his quest to become a successful music composer.

Speaking to reporters, Rahman said he has always been all things related to cinema, since he was young.

"When I was in England to work on the Bombay Dreams project, Andrew Lloyd Webber asked me if I had any stories (I was working on)," he said, adding that he wondered why he was asked that question, before realising that in cinema, and in the art of performance, everything is inter-connected.

"I think I slowly put the trap in myself that I can only make music.

"At the same time, I was being careful (about jumping into production). Whether I was worthy enough, because it involves a lot of people's lives and livelihoods."

Upon much persuasion from his associates, Rahman finally came up with three stories in 2010 - one of which eventually became 99 songs. He completed the script in 2011.

Even then, Rahman realised that it can't be "that simple" as he had no prior moviemaking experience.

He attended screenwriting workshops and eventually found Vishwesh, a veteran of music documentaries and teleseries - whose work Rahman himself have personally been impressed with, to helm the project.

The film started to take shape with an "ideal group" of people, and the team decided to feature a fresh group of faces, as opposed to renown actors in the project.

"I think this is part of why the delay happened. We had to find a "new everything", Rahman quipped.

Despite their "newness", the team behind 99 Songs were enthusiastic about the project and looked up to him - which pushed to do better in his roles, in order to not let them down, he said.

As for having the subject as a musical, as opposed to doing away with five songs or so, Rahman said "I'm not creating content. I'm creating life, soul and art."

When asked if the film' story mirrors that of his own life, Rahman said all artists, no matter what form of art they are in, will find something they can relate to, in 99 Songs.

"Nothing comes by fluke. Art, in general, looks simple on the surface, but for the artist, there will be something that pulled them into the certain project. No matter what form of art you do, it is about finding what resonates with everyone."

Asked about the difference between composing music for a script written by others, and doing it for his own script, Rahman said the sense of freedom in the latter is "unbelievable."

99 Songs stars debutants Ehan Bhat and Edilsy Vargas in the lead roles while renowned actors Aditya Seal, Lisa Ray, and Manisha Koirala play supporting roles.