A Sufi performer, a student of classical music and a MBBS graduate, 28-year-old Tariq Faiz was initially hesitant about writing lyrics for a song on menstruation when the opportunity came by this Ramzan.
A NGO in his hometown of Akola wanted a song to mark the Menstrual Hygiene Day on May 28, and his cousin Ramiz Raza was to compose the music.
“As poets, we write about what we experience, so I felt perhaps the subject was more suitable for a woman poet,” Tariq said over the phone from Akola.
Those early doubts are a distant memory now. On Sunday, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis tweeted a YouTube link to the song and music video, describing it as a “very happy” song.
For Tariq, Ramiz and an entire team of young professionals from Akola and Mumbai, all below the age of 30, the CM’s tweet was an attestation that they had succeeded in their objective, to view what is seen as a monthly curse as a celebration.
The lyricist said his experiences as an MBBS student in Indore helped write the chorus: ‘Khoon jism mein bahe toh jaan chale, khoon jism se nikle toh jahaan chale (Coursing through the body, blood keeps you alive; trickling out of the body, blood gives life).”
He knew simple sanitary pads were neither available nor widely used.
“Young girls in rural India are still not allowed to touch things when they have their period,” said Tariq, the son of well-known poet Shaad Akolvi.
Ramiz (27) found the theme inspiring too. “The NGO that approached us, Aahana Innovations and Social Ventures, is run by 22-year-old Sanchi Gajghate who has been working in Akola on the subject of menstrual hygiene. They collect funds with difficulty for these initiatives. So, we did this project free of cost,” he said.
Thrilled at the delicate and simple chorus lines that Tariq penned, the cousins sat up three nights to finish the lyrics and the music.
Ramiz then roped in well-known singer sisters Krutika and Rasika Borkar, who also did not take a fee.
They recorded the song and readied an animation video for a local event on May 28, where Akola Zilla Parishad CEO Ayush Prasad heard the song and pitched in to scale up its reach, roping in Unicef for some funds for a tighter recording and a video.
Mumbai-based independent filmmaker Pritesh Patel (26) was shooting a documentary when he got a call to conceptualise and film a video for the song.
About the video, which ends with girls and their teachers holding up their palms coloured red with a blackboard behind them reading ‘Happy To Bleed’, Pritesh said: “We felt it was a powerful image, red hands expressing that they are happy during this natural process.”
Shooting was challenging, as they selected Bhor in Pune, where they shot amid heavy rain on two days at the end of July. The cheery girls, boys, teachers and parents in the video are all non-actors, local residents from the picturesque village.
Shooting with limited time, Pritesh was constantly concerned that the message in the song must resonate right through the video.
The response has been tremendous — the song composer, lyricist and singers were felicitated by a Cabinet minister in Akola and the phone calls have not stopped. Ramiz is working on his first Marathi film score, Pritesh is working on a documentary among other projects and Tariq is planning to pursue a career in medicine alongside music and poetry.
“But this experience has been unreal, this song has been a life-altering experience for us,” said Ramiz.
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