The Firstpost Playlist: Celebrate Independence Day with AR Rahman and Subramania Bharathi - Firstpost
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The Firstpost Playlist: Celebrate Independence Day with AR Rahman and Subramania Bharathi

This Monday, India will celebrate her 70th Independence Day. To honour that historic event, sixty nine years since India's midnight tryst with destiny, The Firstpost Playlist brings you songs about freedom — but with a twist. We are going beyond Mere desh ki dharti and Rang de basanti to focus on more offbeat music such as the India-Pakistan venture Gurus of Peace with AR Rahman and the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and an instrumental cover of Mile sur mera tumhara. With a dash of Upendra and a rock-and-roll version of Subramania Bharathi's poetry.


Gurus of Peace by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan feat. AR Rahman

AR Rahman always wanted to collaborate with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and this one of his last compositions before he died. Explaining his choice, Rahman said "I don't want to collaborate with just a name. I must feel something for the person and relate with his work. I've seen several famous names collaborating on songs and albums, but they remain just two names. There's no chemistry. It's like oil and water. They can't come together."

Rahman went all the way to Pakistan to record the Gurus of Peace with Khan. This is supposedly the first time that an Indian and Pakistani artiste have come together to create this kind of music.

The song when you hear it, is worth it!

— Ankita Maneck

Nan Sigdhakadru from Kalpana 2

This song is from Upendra song from his latest flick. It is being touted by its makers as a patriotic song, but it will tempt you to go check if Karnataka has now become a country. The song has nothing to do with India, instead is all about Karnataka and Kannada pride. Yet it is a complete entertainer with everything in the song draped in the colours of the state – yellow and red, except of course Upendra who is in his classy best.

— Benita Chacko

Viduthalai (Navarasam) by Thaikkudam Bridge

Thaikkudam Bridge's debut album Navarsam has a good lineup of songs from classical rock and instrumental to folk. But their brilliant rendition of Tamil freedom fighter Subramania Bharathi’s poem Viduthalai, which is a resonating call for freedom, is perhaps the most evocative number in the album. The band's re-imagination of the song is nothing like the originally-recorded Bilahari raagam number — this is darker but equally rousing, think Tamil rock, perhaps? Sort of makes for the perfect 'earworm' this Independence day.

— Apoorva Sripathi

Tom, Dick and Harry by Piyush Mishra and Akala

A song sung by the versatile Piyush Mishra and rapper/Journalist Akala. The song is a satire on the political state of the country. It was a part of Dewarists, a part music documentary, part travelogue, which takes independent musicians to places.

This song was recorded in Ross island near Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

— Kinjal Vora

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - Instrumental cover by Baiju Dharmajan

Apart from the National Anthem, if there is any other song which encapsulates the idea of India for a lot of us (the pre-2000 generation), then it has to be Mile sur mera tumhara. This song was first released on Independence day in 1988 and was a perfect way for four-year olds like me back then, to get an overview of different cultural aspects, languages, landscapes, musical traditions of India. No other song comes even close to this. They even attempted a reboot in 2010, with Phir mile sur, which just did not have the soul of the original.

There are few adaptations that come close. Baiju Dharmajan's rendition is one of those. His Carnatic guitar chops are renowned among those following the Indian indie music scene. He was also the former lead guitarist for Cochin-based rock band Motherjane. In this cover, Baiju starts off with a good two-minute-long improvisation on his electric guitar which seamlessly flows into the familiar tune of Mile sur mera tumhara.

— Nimish Sawant

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