The One Tune: Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

Posted on June 21, 2010 in Media

Piyush Panigrahi:

That as a nation India encompasses a diversity of cultures, of languages and of people is a wonder in itself. But still, all these cultures and all these people speaking so many different languages do unite and assemble under on single umbrella. They have the same hearts beating for their very same motherland. All of them dance to the one tune that eulogizes their motherland. 22 years back, when late Suresh Mullick conceived and directed that one tune that unites this diversity of cultures, a legend was born. Mile Sur Mera Tumhara, the magnum opus on the unity of India unfolded on 15th August, 1988. Instilling pride and patriotism in the Indian populus, this masterpiece carried forward the legacy of the Jana Gana Mana composed by Rabindranath Tagore and was proclaimed as the unofficial national anthem of India.

The concept for Mile Sur was developed in 1988 by Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad, and promoted by Doordarshan and India’s Ministry of Information. The song was composed by Ashok Patki, co-composed & arranged by Louis Banks, written by Piyush Pandey and recorded by a group of people from all walks of life. The execution coup was to get music–Hindustani, Carnatic classical and popular, traditional and modern, 13 languages and regions into one piece that was harmonious to the ear and the eye. Raga Bharavi, a sampoorna raga, was chosen as the base for the music. After trying with some of the Hindi virtuosos, Suresh Mullick briefed a young account manager to have a go at it–thinking that he could bring some innocence to the lyrics. At his eighteenth attempt, the young lad got it right and from this emerged the now famous line Mile sur mera tumhara. The young account manager grew up to become today’s Piyush Pandey. To get the right fusion of music, Suresh Mullick enlisted the help of two geniuses from two different streams–Louis Banks and the late P Vaidyanathan, a classically trained musician. Working together, they created the magical score–rendered by three doyens of music–Bhimsen Joshi, Balmurli Krishna and Lata Mangeshkar.

Getting the celebrity artistes to do their bit on screen was the output of some very detailed planning and assiduous hard work of the production teams–of Ogilvy films and the producer Kailash Surendranath’s unit. When the concept is inspiring and the cause noble, getting celebrities to co-operate and participate is not so difficult. Yet to align with over 30 busy people in 20 locations across India within their own professional schedules and yet ensure a sense of uniformity, requires a ‘big picture’ visualisation and this was the genius of Suresh Mullick, Kailash, his production team and the never say die spirit of Vicky Bangera, Ogilvy’s film man. It featured many national icons of the time, including, Amitabh Bachchan, Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, Kamal Hassan, Balamurlikrishna, Lata Mangeshkar, Prakash Padukone just to a name a few. “Mile Sur Mera Tumhara” showcased the diversity of India to establish its message of unity. The song captivated and enthralled every Indian and an entire generation vividly recalls the iconic opening lines sung by Bharat Ratna Shri Pt. Bhimsen Joshi.

22 years hence, when the Republic of India celebrated its diamond jubilee anniversary, a new version of Mile Sur mera Tumhara named Phir Mile Sur was launched on the eve of Republic Day. Amitabh Bachchan launched this song and was proud that he was the only one who was common in both the songs. This version titled Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara features Indian musicians, singers, sportspersons and film personalities from the current generation. The current version (16 min 17 sec) runs longer than the older version (6 min 9 sec) and has been directed by Kailash Surendranath who had produced the original version of Mile Sur Mera Tumhara as well. The new version also retains music composer/arranger Louis Banks. More than 60 of India’s icons have lent their support to this initiative which has taken almost a year to create. It took more than 60 days of on-location shoot, across 15 cities of India, 30 days of post production, 22 of India’s biggest superstars, 18 of India’s best musicians, 13 of India’s best artists and singers, 15 of India’s most renowned icons to create this magnum opus. Each artist speaks of a cause and the video is shot at places which have historical value and significance.