‘Vande Mataram’ An ode to Mother & Motherland

‘Sir, India ka gaana hai! Ijjat se banana hai!’

Remo D’souza’s climax songs are always an outstanding culmination of the stories he tells on celluloid. But the story of ‘Vandemaataram’ starts way back. Two generations back.

My Grandfather, Satyaprakash Puri, was a freedom fighter. The level of patriotism and loyalty towards the nation is extremely high in my family. We are liberal in many ways – about religion, customs, traditions, politics etc. But dare you say a word against India to a Puri, you’ll be in the line of hellfire!

When I was in secondary school, every year on 15th August, we would have a patriotic song competition. It was a group singing event and before puberty hit me with hoarseness, I was quite the Lata Mangeshkar of my school, so I was the head choir boy of my class. All the other groups would sing patriotic songs from movies, but I would insist that we put in more effort than that and my group would sing an original, non-film patriotic song. I’d write really cheesy and predictable lines like :

‘Bharat pyara, hai sabse nyara,
Hum iskey, Ye humara’.
‘Azadi ka bana tera
Vijay-Tilak mastak par
Tere kar mein sada surakshit,
Udey Tirangaa Phar-phar!’

We would sing at the top of our voices and finish with ‘Bharat mata ki JAAAI’ and take the first prize home, every year.

Somehow, talking about India, fills my heart with immense joy and pride. Now, I understand everyone loves their country but my obsession with the ‘idea’ of ‘India’ is a little crazy by all standards. Like, I have a physical reaction to patriotic songs and speeches. My heart races, blood rushes to my cheeks and my pupils dilate, when I hear ‘Kar chaley Hum fida…’ Or ‘Ye Desh hai veer jawanon ka..’

Now, imagine my reaction when Remo Sir, first told me about theABCD 2 climax song. ‘Sir, India ka gaana hai! Ijjat se banana hai!’ He said. My heart raced, my blood rushed…Ah! But I’ve said that already.

While writing the dialogue, I had used a small Tricolour flag, India’s most beloved symbol of national pride, as a device that unites Suresh’s group. (Remember that scene? “Flag jiskey paas hai wohi bolega!”).

But the problem in going ‘all out’ patriotic in the climax was always there. The film is not about nationalism as such. It’s one boy’s journey. At the most you can say it is his group’s journey. It’s not a war film after all. It’s just a dance film! The only way we could convincingly pull off a patriotic song would be if we could make it personal. By writing #Chunar, which comes earlier in the film, we had paved a way for that. I remember telling Remo that: ‘Sir, Maa se lekar Bharat-Maa tak, aapney is picture mein Kuchh nahin chhoda!’

Here, a word about Sachin-Jigar, becomes imperative. These young boys are as much of storytellers as I, Tushar and Remo are for ABCD. So the idea of using parts of #Chunar in the climax came from them. I jumped at it because to relate a mother’s ‘aanchal’ to motherland’s ‘Tirangaa’ was so full of possibilities. So, the song starts on a personal note about remembering the mother (Ik tera naam hai saancha) and graduates to ‘Vandemaataram’.

When our little angel Tanishka (Sachin’s daughter) sang the first two lines, we had tears in our eyes. I had no words to describe the feeling. But Divya Kumar, said something very interesting. He said: ‘Mayurbhai, itni innocence sirf ek 8 saal ki bachchi ke galey se hi aa sakti hai!’ Remo was about to catch the flight to Vegas the same night, when we played Tanishka’s voice to him. He too had tears in his eyes. We knew at that moment that we have something special on our hands.

We went to Delhi to record with Badshah and Daler Menhdi later. Badshah came up with his characteristic attitude in the RAP lyrics. Daler Pahji is in a league of his own. Vijay Arora, the cinematographer made it spectacular and Remo hit another one out of the park for his Climax!

If I would have done nothing in my whole life except writing ‘Rang teenon, jaan se pyareyaan’, my life would still be worthwhile as a son of this glorious soil.
‘Bharat Mata ki JAAAAAAI!’

*The article was first published on Pandolin.com

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