At 86, Bhupen sings Gandhi`s favourite bhajan for Hitler film

Mumbai: Legendary singer-composer Bhupen Hazarika has sung Mahatma Gandhi`s favourite bhajan `Vaishnav jan` in the film "Gandhi To Hitler", which pits Gandhism against Nazism.

According to the film`s co-producer and script writer Nalin Ranjan Singh, the music is set in the backdrop of World War II. The film, which has Raghuvir Yadav in the role of Adolf Hitler and Neha Dhupia as his lover Eva Braun, releases worldwide on July 29 and the music launch is on July 7.

"We have two epic songs ? `Vande mataram` and `Vaishnav jan` ? in the film. For `Vaishnav jan`, we could have found anyone better than Bhupenda," Singh told reporters.

The doyen of Assamese music, now 86, is, however, unwell and undergoing treatment at a Mumbai hospital.

According to lyricist Pallavi Mishra, Hazarika was thrilled to hear his rendition after the recording.

"Because of his age, he could not sing the song at one go. Music directors Arvind-Lyton gave him the complete freedom during the recording. So for his convenience, four-five lines were recorded and finally the song was completed," she says.

"And when we played him the song, he was ecstatic like a young boy. Bhupenda did complete justice to the song."

Both `Vande mataram` and `Vaishnav jan` have been translated into Hindi from Sanskrit and Gujarati respectively.

"It was a challenging job to translate these epic numbers keeping in mind the fact that there should not be any change in the format as well as the meaning," says Mishra.

Veteran ghazal singer Jagjit Singh has also crooned a song in "Gandhi To Hitler". `Har ore tabahi` describes the ill effects of war and destruction prevalent at that time and even today in the form of terrorism. The song has a reprised version sung by Shoureen.

`Vande mataram` is rendered in a rock form while the female version of `Vaishnav jan` is sung by Penaz Masani.

There is a bhangra number `Hara shwet kesaria` sung by Daler Mehendi which has a patriotic feeling combined with the celebration mood.

According to its makers, "Gandhi To Hitler" is a drama based on letters written by Gandhi to Hitler in which the former addresses the Nazi dictator as `Dear friend`. The film depicts difference between the ideologies of Gandhi and Hitler and establishes the superiority of Gandhism over Nazism.

Dada Saheb Phalke Award winner Hazarika has had nearly a four-year break from singing till last year. After resuming singing, he lent his voice in `Phir Mile Sur` besides reciting the title poem of the bilingual film "As the River Flows" which stars Victor Banerjee, Sanjay Suri, Raj Zutshi and Priti Jhangiani. Recently he sang two new modern Assamese songs. Hazarika, who has a genius for weaving a magical tapestry out of traditional Assamese music and lyrics, is regarded as one of the greatest living cultural communicators of South Asia. He is considered as perhaps the only living balladeer in the country, composing his own lyrics and music. He has been a poet, journalist, singer, lyricist, musician, filmmaker, writer and politician.


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