Published: 26th January 2021
Bharata Mata: Here's how these 16 female musicians created a music video for Republic Day during lockdown
The music video, an all-women music production celebrating Republic Day, is being released on Tuesday evening at 7 pm. Here's more about the women behind the project
Have you heard of Bharata Mata? Not the concept per se, but the Marathi song.
No? Well, since it's still Republic Day in some parts of the world, perhaps you can still catch up by tuning into this version by an all-women crew from across continents that collaborated leveraging the power of digital tech and some magical singing to recreate the song.
In July 2020, Swathi Ravichandran, who's been a performing musician and is originally is from Chennai, thought of doing something virtually to celebrate our country's Independence Day. Swathi, who is now a user experience designer in the US, contacted her old friends back in India to recreate a song that she learnt back in her school days — Bharata Mata, a patriotic song in the Marathi language. But with delays et al, Republic Day became the perfect time to get it out.
A group of dynamic young, female musicians from Chennai have worked together on this self-organised volunteer project. The musicians who made this project possible include Anjana Rajagopalan, Aswini Srinivasan, Haritha Raj, Janani Viswanathan, Lakshmy VG, Malola Siddharth, Ramya Ramesh, Rangappriya Sankaranarayanan, Saindhavi Prakash, Savitha Sai, Sharanya Gopinath, Shashwathi Jagadish, Sinduri Vishal, Sindhu Rajaramji, Swathi Ravichandran and Vasudha Ravi.
Swathi tells us how it was pure nostalgia during the lockdown that led her to write a post on her Facebook profile and tag a number of friends, which then led to the successful execution of the project. "I learnt the song almost 15-16 years ago back in school. Back then, we had this concept of community singing and different schools from Chennai would lead the initiative each year. Students are selected for representing various schools and all of them (about 150-175 students) come together at the host school for that year and we are taught various patriotic songs. And, it's a great opportunity for us to meet students from various other schools, get to befriend them, learn and exchange. I studied at Sir Sivaswami Kalalaya Senior Secondary School and we all met at Chinmaya School (host school) for that particular year. Here's where I met some of the artistes cast in the video (Shashwathi, Saindhavi, Vasudha from their respective schools) and we all learnt it and performed together. Bharata Mata, a Marathi Composition was one of the unique songs that we learnt back then," she recalls.
They then connected on a host of social media platforms and got a plan in place, "We created a WhatsApp group with the four of us in it — Shashwathi, Saindhavi, Vasudha and I shared the idea and plan of action with them. We brought people we knew very well into the project. For instance, I brought a few folks from my school. So, it became a pure network effect. In one of our Zoom calls, the questions of how do we proceed with the overall production, I suggested that let's make it a women-only production. That helped us to select our musicians as well. We then listed down woman musicians we know for various instruments," explains Swathi.
Along the way, they were also discussing getting a music arranger and producer who would help with arrangement and overall audio production. Anjana Rajagopalan from Yazhiyam Studios was a contact of one of the team members and they got her on board for the project. "We shared our idea with Anjana Rajagopalan, whom Shashwathi referred and brought on board. She worked with everyone's voice ranges to decide on the lines each of us get to sing, the framework of the song, what instruments to use based of this and did a fantastic job arranging the song and giving it a unique interpretation. I am a Carnatic Vocalist and sang portions assigned to me. All the vocalists got to sing leads as well as harmonies," shares Swathi.
The musicians had to do a few rounds of recording to get the audio quality up to acceptable levels. Anjana had also been looking after the entire arrangement of the track including roping in musicians to add different elements to the song in parallel. As the audio track picked up momentum, during late December 2020, the team began thinking about the video aspect of the song too. They brought in Sindhu Rajaramji. "She guided everyone on how to shoot our videos, guided us with framing, lighting, wall decor etc. Since we all had to shoot this from our respective houses, it was quite an experience for all of us," concludes Swathi.
Check the music video out on YouTube at 7 pm today: https://youtu.be/Dl_muju8uOs