Today is 26/11 and singer-lyricist-composer Rahul Bhatt wants to spend the day remembering all those innocents who lost their lives in the terror attacks and the martyrs who sacrificed themselves in the line of duty.
"Anger and anguish have lead to the realisation that peaceful negotiations across borders are the only way to prevent something like this from happening again," reasons Rahul, pointing out that’s the message his song Azaad 26/11 from the album K@l that bagged the Karamveer National Award for Best Music Video conveys.
Along with Bollywood actors like Gul Panag, Celina Jaitley and Isha Koppikar, the video also features a little boy, Chris Bhansali, holding a rose in hand and revisiting all those places that had been attacked. "Chris ran for two days across South Mumbai and later confided to us that he’d planned, like my producer-writer-director Manish Jain, to go to Café Leopold that evening with his family but they’d cancelled at the last minute. As a result, it was easy for him to relate to the video that made him a part of a larger cause," says Rahul.
Chris’s involvement with the unforgettable day, along with Laetitia De Montalembert, a French national who makes an appearance in the video, came as a surprise to Rahul. He remembers shooting with Laetitia and Manish abruptly called ‘Cut’ for a technical reason. When they turned towards her again, Laetitia was blankly staring at the 26/11 televised images flashing on the screen behind her, violin in hand and lost to the world.
"All of us gathered around her wondering what had happened," reminisces Rahul. "She finally came out of the daze to tell us that she’d been trapped at the Taj Mahal Hotel on the fateful day and only rescued the next morning around 6 am. Seeing the images brought the horrors back. I’d have like to take her back to the Taj in happier times but she had to return to France."
The video, with 24,000 hits on YouTube and 4,500 fans sharing it on Facebook, has struck a chord with people not just in India but abroad too. "I got an email from someone in the US who after watching the video sat in the corner praying for the family he’d lost in the attacks," says Rahul.
Jennifer Lynch, daughter of Hollywood legend David Lynch who directed Mallika Sherwat’s Hisss, also wrote to him saying, "Azaad is beautiful. My daughter and I were there in Mumbai during the attacks. Much respect for your work here."