Rahul da Cunha: Anthems in acapella

Mar 27, 2016, 07:51 IST | Rahul da Cunha

So, Dada and Didi invited The Big B, the Little Master and evergreen Imran Khan to inaugurate the Indo-Pak summit T20 clash last Sunday in Kolkota.

Rahul Da CunhaSo, Dada and Didi invited The Big B, the Little Master and evergreen Imran Khan to inaugurate the Indo-Pak summit T20 clash last Sunday in Kolkota.

The 62-year-old Pathan annoys me — not because he destroyed our batting many a time in the past — but because even close up there’s not a hint of a face lift, nip tuck, Botox or plastic surgery on him.

As the two teams lined up, before the historic match, it was national anthem time.

Big B
Illustration/Uday Mohite

One only gets the chance to hear these fascinating rashtriya gaanas before a cricket or football World Cup match.

The lyrics and the tune kind of sum up the personality of a nation.

But, frankly, it’s the audience in the stands/stadia that gives you a sense of the mood in their country by their response to the ‘song’.

I mean, when the Afghani anthem comes on, every word is like a a stern warning. With the players thinking, “Man if we lose this match, it’s the Al Qaeda or Taliban who’ll have a price on our head”.

The fans in the stands are thinking, “Man if we don’t sing, it’s 100 lashes at the public square! There must be a satellite camera watching us from above the mountains of Waziristan?”

In contrast, the West Indian anthem is like a calypso, the spectators dancing in the aisles.

Our Jana Gana Mana is audience friendly — plus it’s short and sweet and can even be sung between mouthfuls of popcorn. Unlike the Bangladeshi Amar Shonar Bangla which is so slow and long that I’m convinced the team lost Wednesday’s match because they were so exhausted just singing it. The Pakistani Quami Taranah is so complex that most of the guys in green don’t know the lyrics — except Shahid Afridi, of course, which is the only reason why he’s the captain of the team.

In a surprise move, Bachchan saab sang our rashtriya gaana. The superstar used his improvisational skills, pausing between words, giving the anthem a bit of the acapella edge — Sr Bachchan admitted to Jr Bachchan that he had requested Mamata Banerjee — “May I sing ‘Yeh dosti, hum nahin todenge’ from the film Sholay, instead. It’s kind of symbolic…you know, it’ll foster good relations with the Pakis.”

Didi apparently told him — “Uh…Piku…sorry Bochchon Shaab…with due respect, ‘Yeh dosti’ is a duet, not a solo…you cannot sing it alone…”

After India beat Pakistan, Bachchan saab was asked by Sachin paaji: ‘Sir you paused every time before singing ‘Jaya hai’ which comes many times, especially in the end, — ‘Jaya hai, jaya hai…jaya jaya jaya jaya hai…’ why sir?”

Amitji replied — “You see, Tendu, I was not pausing…but mid-anthem, my wife was trying to reach me by phone…so I was returning the call and asking my servant — “Jaya hai, jaya hai?”

Obviously, such variations have landed the Big B in some legal trouble — (a complaint has been filed accusing him of taking five seconds longer to sing it ).

The Delhi Court has decided on Mr Bachchan’s sentence for this unpatriotic act.

He is to chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ 15 times a day.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62@gmail.com

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