Friday, January 29, 2010

Mile Sur mera tumhara... Will it ever?

The last Republic Day was my second consecutive in a foreign land, but this time, we did celebrate. 'Celebrate' of course translates to having a cool time with friends, fellow desi's, and munching snack goodies. But then, when did we ever celebrate India's Republic day ? On a philosophical note, there's nothing in it for us to celebrate - the closest that we can get to the event is to mumble a silent thanks for being born in a free and democratic country. But that is not the subject of my post this time, its something else that stood out like a bitter pill on that day. I 'happened' to see the remake of a song that is at least a couple of decades old, a song that I unknowingly grew up with, a song that was imprinted in my mind, a song that had subtled its message to me - 'mile sur mera tumhara'.

Yes, for those who are still surprised, there is a new version of the song out since this Republic day, called 'Phir mile sur mera tumhara'. Bridled with the underlying theme of unity in diversity, the original song was meant to invoke a sense of well being, unity and patriotism. Sadly, I cannot but call the second version nothing beyond a mere Bollywood album! I have held myself with great difficulty not to post the youtube links for the song, for the fear that I might inadvertently cause more people to watch it. Given that introduction, I shall restrain myself to call it an album hereon.

The primary fact that irks me is the screen presence in the album - most of them are Bollywood actors (and their fashionable self!). I would personally prefer not to represent my country with most of the faces in the album. Simply because there are so many others who are more worthy of being featured. Not that I have anything against our dear Bollywood- it is just that it becomes diametrically opposite to the theme to be portrayed. You might question the presence of Actors in the previous version as well - but remember, those were the days of just one channel and microscopic media. The only visual mass communication media were films and they are the only ones who might be recognized by the common man. Do you really think that is still the state of the current Indian communication scenario, where the TRP bids tick faster than the clock and each political party boasts of its own personal channel. In contrast to two decades ago when news from one part of the country came a day later to another part, people in India now know more of American politics and global economic crisis than the number of states in the country (a definite pun intended). Given this, the choice of celebrities for this version simply appalls me! Why did one have to stick to a Bollywood propaganda? Compare SPB and BMK's stature to Vikram's gorilla-chest-thumping and Surya's chocolate smiles. Compare Dr. Kalam's mighty stature to Salman's tantex style antics. Compare Vishwanathan Anand to Ranbir Kapoor and Mahesh Babu. Truly sardonic. 

And as if the choice of characters were not just enough - the apparent attempt to portray the 'modern' and 'youth' driven India is through fashion parades and Dard-e-discos! What in the world are we trying to achieve with these displays? Certainly not peace, proportion or patriotism! I'm surprised how mini-skirts (if at all there was one) and bulging biceps could even be remotely related to any of these. Is there no more context in one's personal  appearance in these days..? I thought we still lived in a culture where a 'ramarajan-style-cocktail-colored' shirt would still not be acceptable for an interview. 

During times when a 30 second advertisement conveys effective messages, a 16 minute album recreated out of its 7 minute predecessor leaves one stunned with its mediocrity and banality. It is not an anti-album propaganda that I am doing here, it is just a question that we should ask ourselves - is this the sort of message of National Integration that we would want to pass on to our next generation? Is this how you would want to represent your country to the world? Are these the personalities with whom we want our generation to be remembered by posterity? It makes me shudder to think how a remake of this video would look like 20 years hence. Sepulchral.


Summer Rain said...

I just had a look at the video and I agree, it is heavily influenced by Bollywood, but I do not think it is bad. For one, patriotism and national integration are fading virtues today, like you have said, "the closest that we can get to the event is to mumble a silent thanks for being born in a free and democratic country" . Children at various schools I have taught before do not even know why we celebrate these festivals, cannot blame them either. All I am trying to say is the song would probably get noticed by the younger lot because of those bollywood faces, and right now, we do need the attention. Like the old saying goes, "Mulla Mullala thaan edukkanum"

Secondly, the video does present all these actors/actresses in their glam element, because thats what we know them for. I don't personally feel that is bad. Another thing I really liked about the video was the fact there was no undue reference to the different cultures, rather an overall sense of unity. People and landscapes have been preferred to actual "diplays of culture", so to speak.

I do understand your viewpoint, but something that is commercial need not always be bad. :)

Mighty Titan said...

Point taken...they are in the video for what we know them for and I've nothing personal against any of them. As I said, the only thing irks me is, Are they the most inspirational people whom we want to depict our National Integration with? But, yes, thankfully, the video rather prefers to show people and landscapes than the split cultural displays. But I would still feel that why this when we have the ability for creations like -

A video on srilanka..

Summer Rain said...

I love all the videos you'd posted, especially the "school chale hum", but I cannot think of one teacher who talks about/uses it in class, while almost everyone I know speaks of "sach ka saamna". Star appeal sells more, so why not use it to awaken more people? Yes, the videos you'd posted are very very aesthetically appealing, but unfortunately they do not seem to be reaching out enough.... Perhaps something like Phir mile sur mera tumhara might.. Again, I could be just dreaming.. :)