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Sounds of Dissent

JNU speeches by Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid turn into catchy songs, gaining momentum online

Written by Somya Lakhani | Updated: February 24, 2016 8:34:04 pm
jnu, jnu row, jnu protest, umar khalid Umar Khalid.

Kanhaiya Kumar’s azadi speech has been meddled with, yet again. Even Umar Khalid’s powerful monologue on Sunday at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has been played around with. Fortunately, this time the tampering has resulted in a sort of melodic win.

On Monday morning, Chandigarh-based music producer Dub Sharma released a two-minute song titled Azadi, which starts with Kumar shouting for freedom from bhukhmari (hunger), sanghvaad, saamantavaad (feudalism), poonjeevad (capitalism), braahmanvaad (Brahmanism) and manuvaad (casteism) — part of the speech he delivered at the JNU campus before he was arrested. The word “azadi” is put on loop, and a few drops later, an old Punjabi folk number sung by Sharma himself finds space in the song. He sings, “Tera pinjra jangaal ne khana, ke miya mithu udd jaana/tera sukhe jaana wich churi-daana, ke miya mithu udd jaana (rust will eat your cage and the bird will fly away/ the birdseed will dry up and the bird will fly away).” The song has created a stir on social media.

“When I first heard Kanhaiya’s speech, I could relate to his demand for freedom from these ills that plague us. We are free but so many ideologies are holding us back, and I am using music to express my solidarity with what Kanhaiya was asking for,” says Sharma, who has produced music of films such as Gangs of Wasseypur, Cocktail and David. The Punjabi ditty in the song is something Sharma heard as a child. “Kanhaiya’s speech and this song by the Sufi saints fit perfectly together, because the saints, too, were referring to an idea of freedom through it,” adds Sharma, who began working on the song on Sunday.

Watch Video

Meanwhile, another song by popular Delhi-based music producer Akshay Johar aka DJ MojoJojo put to tune Khalid’s Sunday speech, when he resurfaced on JNU campus, in a four-minute-long grimy, dark glitch-hop track titled Yeh ladai. “Woh darte hai hum logo se, woh darte hai humare sangharshon se, woh darte hai ki hum sochte hai/ sabse aasan hai anti-national hona (they are scared of us, they are scared of our struggles, they are scared because we think/ it’s very easy to be an anti-national),” goes the song, as Johar puts “yeh ladai” on loop.

“Umar’s speech spoke to me about his anguish, my anguish, and I picked the parts I felt were most poignant. I heard all the propaganda against him on TV. Through my song, I wanted to present him in a different light,” says Johar. For now, the 26-year-old is going through all the appreciation pouring in, as well as the hate mail on his social media accounts. “It’s my way of fighting for freedom of expression, freedom to dissent,” he adds.

Watch Video: What Transpired In Delhi HC Before JNU students Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya Surrendered

Apart from these two numbers, there is also one called We are JNU, written and composed by Sylvie, a student at the university from Germany. She strums the guitar, and sings, “Cause freedom is about right to speech, not the ideology that they preach/ And if they throw stones at us, we use to build new/ Cause we are JNU! We are JNU!”Kanhaiya Kumar’s azadi speech has been meddled with, yet again. Even Umar Khalid’s powerful monologue on Sunday at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) has been played around with.

Fortunately, this time the tampering has resulted in a sort of melodic win. On Monday morning, Chandigarh-based music producer Dub Sharma released a two-minute song titled Azadi, which starts with Kumar shouting for freedom from bhukhmari (hunger), sanghvaad, saamantavaad (feudalism), poonjeevad (capitalism), braahmanvaad (Brahmanism) and manuvaad (casteism) — part of the speech he delivered at the JNU campus before he was arrested. The word “azadi” is put on loop, and a few drops later, an old Punjabi folk number sung by Sharma himself finds space in the song. He sings, “Tera pinjra jangaal ne khana, ke miya mithu udd jaana/tera sukhe jaana wich churi-daana, ke miya mithu udd jaana (rust will eat your cage and the bird will fly away/ the birdseed will dry up and the bird will fly away).” The song has created a stir on social media.

“When I first heard Kanhaiya’s speech, I could relate to his demand for freedom from these ills that plague us. We are free but so many ideologies are holding us back, and I am using music to express my solidarity with what Kanhaiya was asking for,” says Sharma, who has produced music of films such as Gangs of Wasseypur, Cocktail and David. The Punjabi ditty in the song is something Sharma heard as a child. “Kanhaiya’s speech and this song by the Sufi saints fit perfectly together, because the saints, too, were referring to an idea of freedom through it,” adds Sharma, who began working on the song on Sunday.

Meanwhile, another song by popular Delhi-based music producer Akshay Johar aka DJ MojoJojo put to tune Khalid’s Sunday speech, when he resurfaced on JNU campus, in a four-minute-long grimy, dark glitch-hop track titled Yeh ladai. “Woh darte hai hum logo se, woh darte hai humare sangharshon se, woh darte hai ki hum sochte hai/ sabse aasan hai anti-national hona (they are scared of us, they are scared of our struggles, they are scared because we think/ it’s very easy to be an anti-national),” goes the song, as Johar puts “yeh ladai” on loop.

“Umar’s speech spoke to me about his anguish, my anguish, and I picked the parts I felt were most poignant. I heard all the propaganda against him on TV. Through my song, I wanted to present him in a different light,” says Johar. For now, the 26-year-old is going through all the appreciation pouring in, as well as the hate mail on his social media accounts. “It’s my way of fighting for freedom of expression, freedom to dissent,” he adds.

Apart from these two numbers, there is also one called We are JNU, written and composed by Sylvie, a student at the university from Germany. She strums the guitar, and sings, “Cause freedom is about right to speech, not the ideology that they preach/ And if they throw stones at us, we use to build new/ Cause we are JNU! We are JNU!”JNU speeches by Kanhaiya Kumar and Umar Khalid turn into catchy songs, gaining momentum online

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