The great Indian chorus: Ambuja Neotia Group's 'Jaya Hey 2.0'

Seventy-five Indian musicians came together to recreate the 2011 song, ‘Jaya Hey 2.0’, to celebrate 75 years of India’s Independence in a first-of-its-kind music video
Shubha Mudgal
Shubha Mudgal

Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is full of happy surprises. Like industrialist Harshvardhan Neotia’s passion for setting patritoism to music on a vast scale. He is not on social media and is unaware of the technicalities that lend to content being deemed ‘viral’. “I may not understand what ‘viral’ means, but I am extremely pleased,” he admits with a wide smile. Neotia was speaking about the video ‘Jaya Hey 2.0’, which was released two days ahead of Independence Day by the Kolkata-based Ambuja Neotia Group. It has been 11 years since the launch of ‘Jaya Hey’, a rendition of Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Bharat Bhagya Vidhata’, the first verse of which is the National Anthem of India.

It was performed by 39 stalwarts from the music industry, including the likes of Ustaad Ghulam Mustafa Khan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, Jagjit Singh and Hariprasad Chaurasia. “It was to commemorate Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary and this time, we decided to recreate it for a more contemporary audience,” explains the real estate baron. ‘Jaya Hey 2.0’ was officially launched at a closed-door event in Kolkata at Raajkutir, a luxury boutique hotel by the Ambuja Neotia group.

The video has garnered a massive number of views—over a million on YouTube—likes, shares and goosebumps alike, starring 75 eminent Indian musicians, performing the Brahmo hymn written in Tatsama Bengali. The illustrious list of oft-appearing names like singers Hariharan, Kavita Krishnamurthy, sarod virtuoso Amjad Ali Khan and instrumentalist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt also included folk singers such as Rewben Mashangva, Tetseo Sisters, Bengali singer Parvathy Baul and shehnai player Omkar Dhumal to name a few. “While watching the video for the first time, I felt that I would have got goosebumps even if I hadn’t been a part of this project,” says singer Somlata Acharyya Chowdhury.

The video was conceptualised and executed by the pianist-vocalist Sourendro-Soumyojit in a record 22 days––a task of magnanimous proportions when it also pencils in artistic ego. “I firmly believe we had divine intervention helping us,” says Soumyojit Das, laughing.Soumjajit’s team travelled the length and breadth of the country to facilitate the shoot and the stunning locales that appear as vignettes in the video. From sweeping shots of mighty mountains to beaches on the outskirts of Mumbai––the incredible locales encapsulated the essence of India.

Be it waiting in the middle of the road in Mumbai with singer Mame Khan dressed in all his glory, as a BEST bus draws up in the background, or getting Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons to record and send their portions from the US––the task would have been unimaginable without the love the two musicians who conceptualised the song. “Watching Asha Bhosle on her balcony hitting the high D scale sounding like a 30-year-old, made it worth it.

Especially when she told us that she was turning 90 this year,” adds Das. Padma Shri awardee Neotia’s love for nature and art is discernible in every project that his conglomerate has explored. Says Neotia: “We wanted to showcase the diversity in India in terms of not just music, but also geography, colours, the vibrancy of places, and the art and architecture, which are truly representative of its plurality.” This desire extended to the choice of musicians for the video as well. “We didn’t want it to be a project featuring only classical or popular musicians. Despite strict language barriers, we were honoured to have worked with the likes of Padma Vibhushan awardee Teejan Bai, the Pandavani exponent from Chhattisgarh,” Das says.

The tycoon has always shared a great love for Sourendro and Soumyojit since their days at St. Xaviers College. Matching energy levels and vision led him to reach out to them for ‘Jaya Hey’ in 2011 and again in 2022. The project’s support wasn’t confined to the corporate levels, however. Neotia was personally involved in ‘Jaya Hey 2.0’, even making a brief guest appearance. He also gave the voiceover to a large part of the video. Each musician appears in the 8.15-minute-long video for not more than five seconds, but that didn’t prove to be a deterrent.

“I feel the idea of celebrating the 75 years of Indian Independence resonated with everyone,” Neotia says. Chowdhury vouches for this opinion. “The time taken to travel to and from the studio took longer than the shoot did, but that was the least of my concerns. Being a part of this project makes me feel proud. When I am not around physically, this will remain as a legacy,” she asserts. Like the music of India will be Neotia’s.

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The New Indian Express