(kj) What keeps a layman, somebody who is distanced from the realms of academic and factual history mesmerized throughout the 64 minutes of screening of the “India by Song”? Director Vijay Singh explains it by his successful attempt to “overlay classical Indian history with the emotions of the Indian people”.
“India by Song” takes us through a journey of the Indian post-colonial history starting with the declaration of the independence, the partition and the subsequent death of Mahatma Gandhi across the dire years of Indira Gandhi’s rule to market liberalization and Babri Masjid demolition. The film later dwells into the site of today’s India with its outward success and never-ending internal contradictions.
The director chose to define the Indian notion of change throughout the independent years by selecting his three words for each decade. Each period is accompanied by a coeval song and a testimony of a contemporary as well. The songs act as a canvas which at times reflects the emotions diagonally opposite to the state of the period’s political affairs. The music touches a note of something very intimate of a life of an ordinary Indian who patiently endures the unfolding of a whole lot of bitterness and rejoices at times of a blunt human happiness.
Vijay Singh interviews not only the most formidable personalities of the Indian political and economic arena, such as N. R. Narayana Murthy and Uday Shankar of Star Television, but also ordinary persons of the Indian “janta” like the domestic maid Anjali. These are also her words which put the big words of the preamble to Indian constitution into a simple but deeply profound language. Questioned why did Mother Mary figure among her Hindu gods, Anjali answered matter-of- factually: “Why should we differentiate? God is just one whether you call him Ram, Allah or Jesus”.
This is precisely this cultural, linguistic and religious diversity that an average Indian embraces such readily that a viewer gets to feel in every minute of the film. This is also the diversity that shaped today’s India, its morals and values. Furthermore, this is the maintenance of this diversity that would ensure the continuation of the Indian state per se in the future.