Karnataka’s Rendition Of Vande Mataram Tugs At Millions Of Hearts As It Has Its Icons, Idea, Ideology At The Right Place
Karnataka's melodious ‘Vande Mataram’ tribute to India, as the country celebrates 75 years of its Independence.
Swarajya spoke to some of the minds behind the making of this video released on the eve of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
It opens with the shot of a small cross-pole table-top national flag with large white candles and a crystal lamp around it.
A hand lights the candle and goes out of the frame for it to zoom-out, blur and then sharpen to show the wall behind it featuring portraits of various heroes with Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at the centre of the frame.
The row on top of it has Mahatma Gandhi with Veer Savarkar and B R Ambedkar on either sides, and Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Bhagat Singh next to them.
As gentle sombre music sets the tone with the chorus humming — the camera cuts to a poised actor Sudeepa (Sudeep Sanjeev), with his half face lit, standing as if watching those portraits.
The next frame has the focus on Tilak’s portrait, which then pans down to that of revolutionary Sangoli Rayanna, and the premise is set as the focus moves to the portrait of Bhagat Singh.
Then, as Sudeepa touches the glass frame and the camera zooms out to show us his reflection in the portrait frame.
The feel has been set, the hearts have been tugged at as the song takes off. As singer Vijay Prakash croons Vande Mataram, it mesmerises one and all.
What follows is a four-minute appeal to everyone who ’experiences’ this song, to know what it truly means and signifies in its entirety.
It portrays what the poem written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee in the 1870s holds at its core.
It shows what the ‘national song of India’ has the potential to achieve with just a better understanding of its conceptualisation of India, and all that India is, has been and can be if only it takes pride in being itself.
Also, it shows how Kannada cinema is and has always been more ‘rooted’ in its traditions, more proud of its cultural identity and its inheritance, and how this has enabled it to never fall prey to the ‘wokeism’ that other cinema industries have been said to be guilty of.
"Such is the power of Vande Mataram," says the team, univocally.
Swarajya spoke to some of the minds behind making this video ‘tribute’ from Karnataka released on the eve of Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav or the commemoration of 75 years of Indian Independence.
This is the first time an attempt has been made to portray the entire song, says the team behind it, with all its paragraphs visually backed by a narration that explains how the poet conceptualised and conveyed the real essence of Bharat as a nation.
Just reciting one ‘charana’ (which is what it has been shortened to for public use, for whatever reasons) which is without doubt a beautiful description of its flora, fauna, etc. It restricts the idea of Bharat to that of a physical entity, a geographical one.
But India is much more than this land. That’s what the rest of the lines speak of and drive home the point that India as Bharat Mata is a far deeper construct and idea.
From the second stanza that starts with "Koti koti kantha kala kala ninaada karale" where Bharat Mata is seen as the ‘ninaada’ that rests in the voices of the crores of Indians.
It recrafts the imagination of Bharat Mata in the minds of everyone who recites it every single time. That has been the key idea that drove the concept, believes the team that envisioned it.
"She is the soldier as much as the idol we worship, she is knowledge, she is compassion, she is life energy, she is all of us," says the team.
With this thought at the centre, when the video was taking shape, it was veteran Kannada actor Jaggesh, who recently became a Rajya Sabha member, offered to helm the project and have the entire effort organised.
Talking to Swarajya, he remembers and is grateful for his introduction to Vande Mataram at the Sangh shakhas that former education minister Suresh Kumar led in Srirampura that he remembers attending in his younger days. He shares his experiences of being part of this now huge ‘hit’ tribute to India.
“Since my shakha days to now, each time I hear Vande mataram, it gives me goosebumps. Also, back then, each time I would hear Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, I used to wish that we too make an effort of this kind some day with the blessings of Rayaru (Raghavendhra Swami of Mantralayam who the actor is known to be a huge devotee of, and also in whose name he took the oath recently).
"So, when the team who thought of it approached me to connect to singer Vijay Prakash, I spoke to him, who not just sang but also offered to organise the music, and the song was recorded.
"But then as we all wondered why not make it like a small film, which celebrates all our state’s achievers, it took me back to my long held desire to make something like Mile sur mera tumhara.
"I took on the responsibility of making this happen but all we had was 14 days in which four-five days had already been spent on finishing the song. All we had was three-four days that we could do it in, also the upper house of Parliament was in session.
"So, I skipped two days of the session, came to Bengaluru and spoke to all artistes from the industry and others too who all agreed wholeheartedly. I then spoke to Santosh Ananddram, who is a very famous and successful director, but like a son to me, and shared my idea of making this video. He volunteered to make it happen and just said ‘Anna you organise it and I will take care of creating it’."
Jaggesh then spoke to all the actors, who got on board with even greater enthusiasm and handed over the "song and the actors and the others who would feature in it" to Ananddram and it "all fell in place" to create this beautiful video.
So, "we all remembered Rayaru and prayed that it is with the feeling of making an offering to the nation, which even if we leave, since I am already 60, should stay alive as a sentiment and made it happen. By god’s grace, it has turned out very well," says Jaggesh, lauding the efforts of the entire team, especially the director as well as cinematographer Shreesha Kuduvalli, who has also shot a recent film titled Ratnana Prapancha for bringing the idea out so well.
Ananddram, meanwhile, shares that initially the key idea was to create the Vande Mataram in its full version with all Kannada film fraternity as part of it.
"But then I thought simply having all faces and adding stock shots or animation will just make it remain as a visual. It should surpass the senses of visual and audio and go across as an emotion. So we thought we should design the song as embodying our diversity, our heritage, our culture, and all that we are as a nation," he says.
"From our ‘atithi devo bhava’ concept, to our culture of worshipping gau mata as a mother, to paying tribute to all who laid down their lives for our country, to respecting our Covid warriors, and the way yoga has been projected by our Prime Minister has changed the way the world looks at India," says Ananddram, adding that the effort was to ensure the video highlights all that is essentially ‘Indian’ and all that we need to take pride in.
For this they chose to have the narrative with a school at the centre of it. "Because a school is where the right thoughts get planted in the most fertile minds that help you grow as an individual," says Ananddram.
"For most of us, it is only the memories of those days being celebrated in school after we leave it. It no longer is a process we are a part of even if we do attend flag-hoisting ceremonies. Also, we know we buy a flag and hoist it, but its making isn't what most of us concern ourselves with," says Ananddram, explaining the thought behind the storyline of the video.
"Which is why we chose a school as a backdrop, had one of our industry’s celebrity Ravi Chandran who is conducting music, Ramesh Aravind as a teacher, Jaggesh sir as someone who goes to a weaver and gets it, had Anant Nag sir as the mentor of the school and showed the flag's journey from the weaver to the pole," he elaborates.
The tiger dance that represents coastal Karnataka, starring actor-director Rishab Shetty, actor Dhananjay playing an auto driver, who guides tourists to show the spirit of atithi devo bhava, former cricketer Venkatesh Prasad, who bowls and has young kid hit a six, and he celebrates it and hands over the flag to them "which was symbolic of passing on the legacy to the coming generation".
The environmental awareness through the state’s green ambassador Padma awardee Saalumarada Thimakka, tribal children being "tutored and empowered" by transgender folk artist Padmashri Jogati Manjamma, every frame of the video has had its semiotics on point, to the point of the book that legendary writer S L Bhyrappa, who is featured, would be seen reading.
"That was a point of discussion whether it would be the Constitution or the Bhagwad Gita. But my team was confident that it had to be the Gita because every issue and confusion of life can be resolved through its reading," says Ananddram.
"And it is the ‘rootedness’ and the conviction and patriotism that each of the film fraternity members are very vocal and unapologetic about that has made the film what it is," he adds.
"Wherever you are from, it is the thought and ideas behind the content that matters. It is content backed by conviction of the actors in what they were portraying that made this video beautiful. If the actors didn't believe in what was being shown, I could never have brought this out this effectively,” says Ananddram.
"Everyone was convinced about the intention, importance and the essence of the song, and today, audiences are convinced too which is what has made it successful," he adds.
On the music front , singer Vijay Prakash took the initiative to produce it with the support of his music director Praveen D Rao and a group of young chorus singers.
The team shared that all the 22-year-olds who hummed the chorus for the song, and never "knew the meaning of the song" were first given a detailed explanation of what each of the lines meant.
"They were touched when they understood the depth of each line of the song, which is what took even the rendition of the chorus vocals to a whole different level," says a member of the team behind its creation.
“Although there are countless versions of the chorus and first stanza, the full version is very rare. The experience of creating it has been truly beautiful, and it is a blessing for me that I got an opportunity to record it on such a wonderful occasion of the country’s celebration of 75 years of independence,” says singer Vijay Prakash, whose vocals have echoed through millions of hearts and earned the applause and appreciation of everyone from citizens to the Prime Minister of India.
“I feel so happy to say that our piece of work has reached 1.3 billion people thanks to our Honourable Prime Minister, who has shared it with the nation. Also the whole aura and energy of the full version makes the experience complete, and I wish and hope that we all continue to render the full version from here on and in the future,” says Vijay Prakash.
Talking about the whole project, Vijay Prakash says, it is quite different from creating a commercial project because "when you are creating something for your fellow citizens and for your nation there is a different joy, enthusiasm, responsibility, discipline, everything comes into action and that's how it has come out so beautifully,” he explains.
"Because independence is not just about freedom but about responsibility, and it is important we understand that this is not a gift but has come at the cost of so much sacrifice. So, it is up to us that we contribute in whatever we can and this song has given me that opportunity on this very special occasion of the celebration of 75 years of our Independence," says the singer.
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