Everyone who knows Mahatma Gandhi, knows his favorite devotional song Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram. Also known as Ram Dhun, the lyrics of this song were written by Lakshmanacharya and the most popular music version was composed by Vishnu Digambar Paluskar. To our generation, this song has become synonymous with the Indian independence movement led by Gandhiji back in early and mid 1900's. And why not, it was devotedly sung by Gandhiji and his followers throughout the 390 kilometers long Salt March to Dandhi, Gujarat. With changing times however, Bollywood has come up with different versions of this song in various movies. From background score to using certain parts of the song as fillers in songs, this song has been used in songs from movies such as Jagriti (1954), Purab Aur Paschim (1970), Kannada film Gandhi Nagara (1998), etc. The song was a recurring element in Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006), and was also featured in the movie Gandhi, My Father (2007). But today we will talk about the movie songs where the lyrics "Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram" are prominently featured in their very first verse.
The 1998 film which gave the film industry an ace director in the form of Karan Johar, also gave us one of the revised versions of "Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram". Composed on rock and roll music, it kept the lyrics mostly intact, but robbed the soul of this melodious song. While it was placed at an important juncture of the story and was entertaining, it definitely did not leave a good echo in listener's ears, especially those that favored the beauty of the original classical tract.
The use of "Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram" in the party song of this 2013 movie takes the cake for being quite uncalled for. We are still trying to understand what possessed the lyricist to insert such revered words into a song which had no place and no use for them. It was a total waste and mockery of such a beautiful bhajan. Moreover, neither the music nor the picturization is worth remembering, unless one wants to fume at the memory!
Here is an instance where the song was not only prominently featured, but respectfully handled as well. In the recently released Satyagraha (2013) starring Amitabh Bachchan, "Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram" plays an important role in taking the story forward and is picturized on a peaceful protest against the evils of society. This is definitely the kind of song that makes the viewers nostalgic with its slow tempo and use of classical instruments.
With time, the significance of things change. Ram Dhun that once had status akin to Jan Gan Mann is now being quite commercialized. It has transitioned from a devotional song to one that has been remixed numerous ways! Peace and respect have been invaded by fun and frolic. But once in a while, we see this widely respected song given its due in current pop culture, and that makes enduring other juvenile attempts at it worthwhile. The song has always been,and will always be deeply entrenched into the hearts of the patriotic Indians who take pride in their history and remember their freedom fighters with fondness. If nothing else, these movies are helping to keep this beautiful song alive for the generations to come.
Writer(s): Anamika GK.
Editor(s): Peehu A. and Gunia K.
Graphics: Komal P.
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