Whenever India celebrates Independence day, the first song that plays all over the radios and televisions will be that of Rahman’s Vande Mataram. Talking about Vande Mataram, two people redefined the sound of patriotism. And the names we thank is Bharath Bala and A R Rahman. Hardly, when the new generation of Indians seems to forget the great lines of Rabindranath Tagore, it was Bharath Bala who felt that it must not happen. So he brought up the idea and Rahman gave complete justice to it.
Bharath Bala shares his experience with Rahman on Vande mataram for an exclusive interview for a leading news portal.
A R Rahman and Vande Mataram : Rahman is my schoolmate and a friend. We have worked together in over more than a hundred commercials. When the idea of Vande Mataram came to me, I created a CD cover with the tricolour and presented it to him. I said to him, “This is your first music album.” Till that time he was scoring music only for feature films.
It was an enormous challenge for both of us. We then embarked on a journey to discover India and ourselves. It took six months of traveling before he wrote Maa Tujje Salam. The effort was to create something which we would be proud of even after five or 10 years. We turned out to be right.
I was in a different spirit all the time. It was magical and there was a certain madness when we held on to an idea and believed in it no matter what. We never thought about the result.
The beauty of Vande Mataram was the feeling I got when I heard it for the very first time, and then again after 10 years. The feeling remained the same, and I think it did for a lot of Indians too.
My father saw Vande Mataram before he passed away. I am sure he would have been very proud of it. After we did Maa Tuje Salam, India Today told my father that though the song starts with Maa, it should have been Appa Tuje Salam because it was he who influenced me to make that song.
Rahman and I do very little work but the work we did would probably live forever.
Making Jana Gana Mana
It was Kanaka, my wife, partner and co-director who said we should do Jana Gana Mana next. The idea inspired us to create anthems with the greatest maestros and the young contemporaries so that it became a part of India.
So, we brought in singers both young and old like D K Pattammal, Bhimsen Joshi, Lata Mangeshkar, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Balamurali Krishna, Hariharan and Rahman to sing Jana Gana Mana. I think it was an inspiring journey for all the talents involved. The beauty of the idea is so big that it brought people together. And we were the catalyst.
Today, we have done 35 renditions of Jana Gana Mana, 20 films and still it continues…
Today, 600 theatres across the country play the anthem before every movie. I have even seen people singing along.
It has been ten years since we did Vande Mataram. Today, it has become a benchmark for schools to choreograph patriotic songs. It has also become cool to say Vande Mataram today! That is the best compliment we have received.
The Incredible India campaign
We don’t push ourselves to think of a patriotic idea. It’s not a marketing strategy.
We have been doing the Incredible India campaign for the last three years. The campaign has won numerous awards in many countries. At the Davos economic forum, we have done a film showcasing India as an emerging country.
I feel every Indian is patriotic; we only have to evoke emotionally. I am proud that my name is associated with something truly Indian.