- Made his debut as a film composer in Mani Ratnam's Roja (1992), for which he became the first debutante to win a National Film Awards for Best Music Direction.
- Besides his many international award wins, he is also a four-time National Film Award winner and he has received a total of 15 Filmfare Awards.
- After receiving the Padma Shri in 2000, he received the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian award, in 2010.
- The Indian National Congress awarded him the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 2010.
- Composed the theme song for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, titled "jiyo Utho Bado Jeeto".
- Whilst receiving an honourary doctorate from Miami University in 2012, he mentioned he had received a personal dinner invitation from US president Barak Obama and his family.
- Runs his own charitable organisation, the A. R. Rahman Foundation, which supports various causes, and in 2008 openend the KM Music Conservatory.