I was watching the much awaited and the much anticipated episode of MTV Unplugged featuring, for the first time, the Mozart of Madras, the first Oscar winning music director and composer of Indian soil, who has enthralled audiences worldwide by composing soundtracks & background music for renowned international movies like Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours, none other than, Mr. A. R. Rahman.
I had heard that he had completely changed the compositions, so was dying to hear what The God, the Creator had in mind.
The program started with a divine song, one of my favorite Rahman compositions – “Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera” from Swades. The originality of the tune had me thinking. It took me five to six years back, to the time that I first watched this movie. I was totally engrossed in the song, remembering the way it was picturised. A thought ran in my mind, the same thought that had occurred, even then.
Why wasn’t Swades sent to Oscars, as India’s official entry. Along with Swades; Black, Veer Zaara, Hazaaron Khwaishien Aisi, and Iqbal were also in contention, but why none of these went to the Oscars, remains a Paheli.
The Story of Swades was simple. Meteorologist Mohan Bhargava, a NRI working as a Project Manager in NASA, and living in USA for close to twelve years, returns back to India for just few days, so that he could find his nanny, who he has lost touch with, and persuade her to accompany him to the States. The film is a journey of Mohan from being a NRI from United States to being an Indian. With his knowledge and money, and hard work of villagers, he completes a small project of enlightening a small village in which he is staying, by providing it electricity. But once he admits the fact that neither his nanny, nor Gita, the girl he loves, will leave India, and understanding that he has overstayed his holiday, and further stay will jeopardized the launch of his NASA Project, he leaves India. But once he reaches The States, he can’t take his mind of India, its people, its flawed but existent culture, its warmth, its love and the feeling of oneness. Parting gift that Gita had given him, a wooden box, consisting of compartments, and filled with things that sums up Indian traditions, like small Indian flowers, pebbles from river side, soil from the fields, medicinal plants like Tulsi, and most importantly, Indian Culture, make sure that he never forgets the time that he had spent in India. These things compel him to return back to India, to Gita, as the movie ends.
The subject that was discussed in this movie was a very grave one; with young Indian engineers, doctors & graduates favoring a job in US and Europe more than working in India. Brain-drain was one phenomenon that was of most fear. And this was not limited to India, people from across the world, from different countries were loosing their intelligent minds to Dollars & Euros.
That’s why I felt that a theme like Swades would have had more impact at the Oscars than a village folk tale like Paheli. Though the movie is about returning to one’s homeland, the bigger meaning that it has, is returning to your roots and never forgetting what made you great.
Just then the song entered the last stanza, and my wandering mind returned to stability. Instead of singing it in Hindi, Rahman started singing it in Tamil; yes, in Tamil. On an National Hindi channel, for an audience listening to Hindi songs, he sung the last stanza in Tamil. I was completely surprised to find me thinking on the same lines and the Mozart of Madras feeling the same way. His Tamil stanza made me more happier that day.
That, what I think, is the real gist of Swades. It is this feeling that will keep you connected to your roots.
Hats off to Ashutosh & Shah Rukh; but to A. R Rahman, तुम्हाला भावपूर्वक वंदन…