Sontakke's viral Vande Mataram remix draws from thumri

In his version of the national song, the Hindustani and fusion musician has retained the central melody and added a faster beat that runs parallelly

Published: 18th August 2016 03:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2016 04:59 AM   |  A+A-

BENGALURU: This Independence Day, city’s renowned music composer Prakash Sontakke brought out a remake of Vande Mataram. It went viral with over 10,000 shares in 24 hours. “We posted it at 6 am and, by 6 pm, this was the response,” says Sontakke.

In his version, the Hindustani and fusion musician has retained the central melody and added a faster beat that runs parallelly. “The rhythm goes at four times the pace of the central melody,” he says, to make this song more accessible to a group.

“One or two people can sing, be part of, a melody. Rhythm always brings hundreds of people together,” he says. “This is what happens in traditional Banarasi Thumri... There is the lagi (a fast rhythm) that comes towards the end. As the song closes, the central melody keeps going but the lagi goes faster and faster, berserk, and carries the crowd with it.” This function of the percurssion had been playing on Sontakke’s mind for a while and he thought it could be used to get the younger Indians to connect with this old favourite.

“This (Vande Mataram) is one of the most beautiful songs, and has been for the last 70 years,” he says. “I wanted youngsters to connect to it and make it more approachable as a group song.” The many layers he has added to it, with different voices, western harmonies and beats, Sontakke says, allows more voices to join in.

The video took ten to eleven days to make, with its shoot and editing. It is part of an album Progressive Ragas. “I was in no position to bring out the entire album, but wanted to launch one song for Independence Day,” says the guitarist who was part of last year’s Grammy Award-winning Winds of Samsara.

The bigger album is on different raagas.

“Raaga music happens to be the most despised of forms,” he says. “People say ‘oh, so boring’ when someone starts on a raaga and think the artist will now drone on for hours... but raagas are the most universal of concepts.”

“They helped me explore other world music. For example, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon is in Raag Bhagyashree and Wish You were here in Raag Bhupalli. When I say this, people find it funny,” he says.

The idea that the psychedelic rock band has anything to do with Hindustani classical music seems, to them, hilarous.

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