“It’s this strange dichotomy that we are facing right now. We need to stay apart but we need to talk about togetherness,” says lyricist Prasoon Joshi. From this challenge, arose ‘Hum Haar Nahi Maanenge’. The song on overcoming the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, has been penned by Joshi and composed by maestro AR Rahman, and conceptualised by HDFC Bank.
“We are very excited about the idea behind this. It’s not just about this song, that offers hope, but what it can achieve,” says Rahman. HDFC Chief Marketing Officer Ravi Santhanam expands on that, “For every share that this song gets, from the official handles of AR Rahman, HDFC Bank, and all other artists involved in this project, across YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, we will be donating ₹500.”
The song features vocals by Clinton Cerejo, Mohit Chauhan, Mika Singh, Jonita Gandhi, Sid Sriram, Shruti Haasan, Rahman’s own daughter Khatija, and more. Legendary percussionist Sivamani, sitarist Asad Khan and bass prodigy Mohini Dey are also part of this project.
“After Prasoon wrote the song, and I set it to tune, each of the artistes recorded their parts in their own homes within 10 days, and I put them together,” says Rahman.
‘Hum Haar Nahi Maanenge’ which translates to ‘We won’t give up’ features monotone visuals of essential service providers such as policemen, municipality workers, voluntary workers distributing groceries, mothers working from home, and people feeding stray dogs.
“This song is about the unputdownable spirit of humans. If history has taught us anything, it is that we will bounce back,” says Joshi.
The making of
AR Rahman and Prasoon Joshi first worked together in the staunchly anti-establishment 2006 film, Rang De Basanti. Fourteen years on, Joshi is now very much part of the establishment as head of CBFC and the writer of many Government anthems, including the one for Swachh Bharat.
“I ask myself what I would want to hear, what other people would want to hear,” says Joshi, explaining how to toe the line between being inspiring and being preachy while writing an anthem. “We need to definitely acknowledge the problem, but also provide hope,” he adds.
Joshi has also worked with Rahman for a campaign for the Gujarat Government, apart from hugely successful films such as Ghajini and Delhi-6.
Though he is used to solitude while working, this one feels forced. It is a quiet affair at the Rahman household too, who are celebrating the holy month of Ramzan.
“I finished the final mastering of the track, but unfortunately we have had two back-to-back sad news, that of the passing of Irrfan Khan and Rishi Kapoor sahab… So we are all a bit low,” says Rahman.
“It actually has been one of our quietest Ramzans so far, usually I would be working on at least four movies simultaneously. This time it has been more about spending time with the family,” he adds.
In fact, ‘Hum Haar Nahi Maanenge’ got together all the members of Rahman’s family. “As soon as my wife learnt I was doing this song, she said you have to put our daughter in it,” he says. “This is the first time that my daughter (Khatija) sang in Hindi, and the others also helped (in coordinating the collaboration).”
For Joshi, it is this focus on family, old friendships and relationships, that is coming out victorious during this time. He himself has been spending more time with his father, who is hard of hearing. “We hope that this emotion comes through in our song,” he says.