Reclaiming Netaji's Space: Four Renditions Of 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja' That Need To Be Recorded And Broadcast Widely

by Sumati Mehrishi - Jan 25, 2022 08:11 PM +05:30 IST
Reclaiming Netaji's Space: Four Renditions Of 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja' That Need To Be Recorded And Broadcast Widely Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and the INA
  • 'Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja' is living heritage directly related to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and his Azad Hind Fauj.

    As India finally begins to give Netaji his due, this tune—as played and sung by India's army, people, and children—should be made to reach its schools, homes, as well as TV and mobile screens.

Dilli (New Delhi) held a special meaning in the hearts of the veers who served the Azad Hind Fauj and in the songs they sang.

Hum Dilli Dilli Jayenge and Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja contain INA and Netaji's emotion for Dilli of an Independent India and the people of India deserve to find between themselves an everlasting rendition of Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja, before and after it lingers over Rajpath on 26 January.

The song lives on in and emanates from the courage, sacrifice, the inspiring presence and the march of the Indian Army. In a way, that's the Indian Army's cultural contribution towards the people of India and we should be thankful.

Beginning this year, Kadam Kadam should become a permanent, tangible element that's associated with Netaji's Dilli. And that will come when we give the song to the people and to children.

The hologram dedicated to Netaji should play the role of dispelling
and diverging Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja, like the rays of light, to lives, towards schools, towards public celebration of Netaji. And for that, the Centre needs to do a little something more.

It needs to help end the public's dependence on the version of Kadam Kadam that comes from the film industry. The version is a fine one, no doubt, with orchestration that rouses both emotion and blood. However, there are versions that will do more justice to this living heritage left for us by Azad Hind Fauj, and the creators of the song -- Vanshidhar Shukla and Ram Singh Thakuri. We need to learn to preserve, document and respect this composition synonymous with freedom and the fight for it.

Here thus, is a list of renditions of the Kadam Kadam that should reach every home and school.

Rendition one: a recording of the tune from the Indian Army band -- a studio version of what we hear on Rajpath on 26 January.

Rendition two: a recording, if possible, of the song sung by the cadets of the Indian Military Academy.

As we know, it is a precious feature of the passing out parade at the IMA Dehradun. The newly commissioned officers sing Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja in full-throated, sky-filling, delivery. It's a version beautifully raw and is the bravest; not to forget that it also marks a decisive milestone in the life and journey of the officers.

This one version will directly talk history to those who aspire to serve the nation and the Armed Forces. It will be the greatest musical inspiration to the youth -- as it comes from those very throats that breathe warmth into the icy blankets at Siachen, those who sing through the "darya, jungle" in fatigues, and yell war cries on India's frontiers.

While several video clips of the POP rendition of Kadam Kadam Badhaye Ja are available on Youtube (possibly recorded by the dear ones of the new officers at the pipping ceremony), a recording of the song at the rehearsal would serve a valued documentation of the song.

The IMA song -- Bharat Mata Teri Kasam comes to those "laadlas" who earn being at the IMA. On the other hand, Kadam Kadam sung by the cadets who go on to protect India, is a rendition that could be shared with those who won't live to be immortal.

Rendition three: the full and original version, studio recorded, sung in samooh gaan (groups -- as in a studio set up prevalent in the 1980s and
early 1990s).

Rendition four: a recording of the song for India's children sung by India's children.

The video clip of the unveiling of the hologram by PM Modi was soul stirring in itself. Though the hologram will eventually be replaced by a depiction which is static, solid, and long lasting, the hologram seems a more fitting visual tribute to Netaji, at least to this author. It builds itself -- just as Netaji. It collects itself, grain after grain, portion by portion making a visual reminder of Netaji collecting his mind, strengths, countrymen, to give the British a formidable opposition of thoughts and arms in several junctures and journeys.

We still have questions on how or when his journey ended. We still dabble with a sense of closure when it comes to this brave son of India. The hologram fills those hollows left by history and time until that brave figuration takes over and Netaji emerges before us. The success of a soft movement to make Kadam Kadam reach people in a deeper way will turn people to Netaji's history and his destiny, and to what's missing in history books.

Sumati Mehrishi is Senior Editor, Swarajya. She tweets at @sumati_mehrishi 

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