Happy 70th Independence Day, India
India is merely a geographical expression. It is no more a single country than the equator.
Despite Churchill’s pronouncement, independent India is seventy years old, while her old rulers struggle to hold onto their not so united kingdom. On August 15, 1947, India achieved its independence from the oh so benevolent British rule, whose legacy involved mass death by starvation. One of the worst famines to strike British India was the Bengal famine of 1943. While volunteer army recruits from India were dying by the thousands for Winnie’s King and country, his decisions led to millions of avoidable Indian deaths.
Home to every religion in the world and twenty-two official languages; India’s amazing linguistic and religious diversity is its strength. This diversity is reflected in Indian art, be it Hindustani classical music or popular Hindi cinema. India’s struggles are many and it still has a long way to go before it reaches its full potential, but those are topics for another day.
But today I want to celebrate this milestone by celebrating India’s unity in diversity. First broadcast on 15 August 1988 on Doordarshan,
Mile sur mera tumhara, to sur bane hamara ( when my note (musical) melds with yours, it becomes our note)
Bhimsen Joshi gets its started in Hindi, then we travel the length and breadth of India, from north to south and from east to west, ending in Hindi again. I counted fourteen languages including Hindi.
In the order they appear:
- Bhimsen Joshi (Hindustani Classical music maestro) sings in Hindi
- Boatman in Kashmiri
- People on the tractor in Punjabi
- Shabana Azmi (actor) in Urdu
- Narendra Hirwani (cricketer) in Sindhi
- Cast of Tamas, a Doordarshan miniseries on India’s partition in Hindi/Punjabi
- Balamurali Krishna (Carnatic music maestro) in Tamil (In his audience I could identify Kamal Hassan, Venkatraghavan and Meenakshi Seshadri)
- Prakash Padukone (Badminton player) in Kannada
- Couple in Telugu
- Man on the elephant in Malayalam
- Mrinal Sen (Film director), Arun lal(Cricketer) etc getting out of a train in Bengali
- Assamese singer
- North eastern dancers (with no voiceovers)
- Oriya couple
- Mario Miranda (Cartoonist/illustrator) in Goa (again no voiceovers)
- Mallika Sarabhai (Dancer) in Gujarati
- Tanuja (Actor) in Marathi
Again we end in Hindi
- Waheeda Rehman (Actor)
- Hema Malini (Actor)
- Sharmila Tagore (Actor)
- Lata Mangeshkar (Singer), then the voice behind the women
- Amitabh, Jeetendra and Mithun (all actors)
Ends in refrain of the Indian national anthem
- I could only identify Syed Kirmani (cricketer)
If you can identify anyone else who I have missed, let me know in the comment section.