Two years ago, Bollywood composer Nikhil Kamat was surprised by a call from Akhilesh Yadav. He’d been recommended to Mulayam Yadav’s engineer son by Ajay Kapoor of music company T-Series, to compose the new anthem for the Samajwadi Party. He was sent the lyrics, written by Uday Pratap Singh, and asked for a soulful song with a youthful heart.
Nikhil composed a tune, got his lyricist in Mumbai, Vimal Kashyap, to come up with a slogan, ‘Azaad Hindustan ki yeh awaaz hai, iss party pe sada, desh karta naaz hai’ (This is the voice of free India, and this is a party the country has always been proud of), and sang the song, ‘Yeh Samajwadi jhanda …’ to Akhilesh over the phone. The young leader, now Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, was impressed.
A week later, Akhilesh stopped by Nikhil’s studio. By then, the song had been recorded with Javed Ali and an orchestra of 60-plus musicians, blending symphonic violins with modern beats. “After I had played it, Akhilesh hugged me, saying he had got exactly what he wanted,” reminisces Nikhil.
The elections were still two years away, but the politician told Nikhil to set up a bank of songs for him to go campaigning with. “I composed over 25 songs, keeping the party’s new look in mind. Javed Ali sang 15 songs, and a couple were done by Rekha Bhardwaj ,” says Nikhil.
At every ‘rath yatra’, a new song was played and last December, Nikhil was flown to Saifi, the Yadavs’ ancestral village, for the annual Maha Utsav. “I sang the anthem live to an overwhelming response,” says Nikhil, ruing that his busy schedule kept him away from the ‘coronation’ on Sunday. “But I’ll go there soon. I’m sure Akhilesh and me can create more musical plans.”