“Haal to bure hain, phir bhi dil hai hindustani,” is a line that repeats multiple times in a rap song titled ANDOLAN, released on December 23, 2019.
Written and performed by Delhi-based hip hop artist naqaab47 (Adi Radia), the song is a reaction to the ongoing anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests and police violence on campuses across universities. The beats, which include samples from Bollywood, have been provided by Shoals – Delhi-based indie electronica duo Utkarsh Varma and Sidharth Gupta.
The members of Shoals, naqaab47 says, were at the receiving end of police violence during the protests.
As Gupta told WildCity:
“On December 19, when all of India was protesting I too was going to march from Mandi house to the parliament in Delhi. We had heard that they were detaining people at Lal Quilla. There were rumours that Section 144 had been imposed there. At Mandi house there were only about a 100 people when I came, all drinking tea together. We had reached an hour earlier in anticipation. The police arbitrarily started detaining people there as well. My friend and I were captured and pushed around as the media surrounded us. We escaped detention but a lot of our friends didn’t. This prompted me to call Adi because I believed that he would be able to capture this emotion of betrayal and hope.”
“While I was busy pondering the future of this country by myself, Shoals approached me with their vision to create an anthem that reflects the thoughts and concerns of the many others like us, who are going through the same feelings. When I heard about the arbitrary instance of violence that they had faced from the police, that was a turning point for me,” naqaab47 says.
He took a day to collect all his thoughts, go deep into the issue and write the song. In the meantime, Shoals prepared the beats: “…We just treated it like any other track and used the same devices that we usually do. All of my work is based on the knowledge that there is something powerful in being raw and genuine. That itself is a rebellion against the mainstream narrative.”
The other artists who contributed to the video, which has so far racked up almost 5,000 views, are Ish Raheja, Aman Arakh, Soumyajit Chakladar and Rohan Surti. Aman mastered the track, Ish worked on the visuals of the video, Soumyajit created the promotional art and Rohan came up with the video’s thumbnail picture.
“The recent fiasco has been a watershed moment not just for us but many others who are like us. The blatant dishonesty and authoritarianism on behalf of the government is evident now more than ever before,” says naqaab47.
Featured image credit: Rohan Surti