OPINION

Phir Mile Sur or Frivolous Mile Sur?

January 27, 2010
sufferingsocrates

India celebrated its 60th Republic Day yesterday. A moment every Indian, including I, am proud of. India is expressing itself on the global stage, and Indians are becoming confident, self-assured and assertive, all in a positive sense. Perhaps its this freedom of expression that is running deep in all of India. Especially it would seem, among the emboldened and influential television medium.

This Republic Day was more remembered for the spiced and hyped Phir Mile Sur, a rehash of the 1988 original version by Doordarshan. Spiced, because of a skimpily clad Deepika Padukone and banyan clad Salman Khan amongst other Bollywood celebrities (even Karan Johar found a place!), and hyped because it was apparently 'released' by Amitabh Bacchan. Now, what bemuses me no end is what do these esteemed figures stand for? Are they the epitome of Indian patriotism or Indian achievements?

I wish I weren't cynical. But the way the new Phir Mile Sur has been done up, looks very botched, annoyingly long and at times even ridiculous. It looks more like a marketing gimmick to win TRPs for Zoom television. It was good old Doordarshan days which brought about the original Mile Sur Mera Tumhara (see original below). Zoom has been one of the gossip channels promoting everything from Bollywood to Bollywood (pun intended).

In the guise of a fresh new look for an amazingly original and endearing Mile Sur Mera of the 1980s, the new version has been launched with so much of Bollywood emphasis that the Olympics medal winners have been pushed to the very end of the music video. I wonder what is it that Bollywood has done to represent India, unlike Olympic Champions like Abhinav Bindra? Even in the new Mile Sur Mera, Salman has no qualms appearing in his vest. I am thankful he didn't remove it to show his true patriotic colors!

When A.R. Rehman re-created Vande Mataram in 1997, it was truly a magical rendering which was soulful, fresh and pleasing to the eyes. Rehman had re-done the tunes of the original song, and his mastery was clearly on display. Sadly for Phir Mile Sur, neither is it original, nor does the video look pleasing on the eyes. The music tries to retain the original Mile Sur Mera tune, with traditional music and tunes, but keeps losing track and gets completely boring at over 15 minutes. For me, personally the music and the video look more like an advertisement for Bollywood to promote its patriotic self, and what better a platform than Zoom TV?

Come to think of it, the media seems to be playing the devil's advocate. Times of India promoted Aman Ki Asha, as if this was the only hope left for India and Pakistan. It ran ads and then a music concert to promote its idea of a peaceful neighborhood with Pakistan. While the intentions are right, I can't think of one reason why patriotism would be etched in the minds of those who come to music concerts. Yet again, a hypocritical approach to promote patriotism while on its own channel, accusations from and to India and Pakistan are made literally everyday. I wish there was an Aman Ki Asha mission for these debates.

All said and done, the true sense of spreading patriotism can only come from those who have represented the nation. It can certainly not be celebrities who only want to market their own brand and themselves. They can be enablers for the mission, but cannot be the mission itself. It is sportsmen, and most importantly the politicians and ministers themselves who should go around promoting patriotism. It is important for people to feel that they should be as patriotic as their leaders or sportsmen, not be dreaming about acting patriotism for a music video.

You may now ask if I liked the original Mile Sur Mera. Of course I did, because it was pure, original and very well done. The message and the music was short and crisp. There was no attempt to forcefully include all major Bollywood celebrities individually. Sickeningly, the new Mile Sur does just that, and is very much in the face. It is unfortunate that patriotism has gone into the hands of privately owned channels unlike the fading Doordarshan which created the Mile Sur magic. I wonder where is Shiv Sena to protest the skimpily clad Deepika Padukone in Phir Mile Sur now.

The original:

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