Javed Akhtar and Shankar Mahadevan’s “Zindagi Jeetegi” Is a Song For Hope During COVID-19

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The world is submerged into the depths of the COVID-19 crisis. At a time when we are shaken to the core, it’s heartwarming to hear stories that make us smile and restore our faith in humanity. It’s just like the rainbow that emerges after the storm, when we come to know that we have amongst us the good samaritans whose hearts flow with love and compassion for mankind.

What role does music play during these trying times? Without an iota of doubt, it can be immensely soothing and therapeutic. American singer, songwriter, and composer Billy Joel lucidly summarizes the invigorating quality of music when he says: “It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music”.

What cannot be said in plain words can be so wonderfully communicated when we give it a tune. It’s music that triggers our emotional response.

The recently released song Zindagi Jeetegi beautifully encapsulates feelings of hope, positivity, and victory. The track made exclusively for NDTV aims to raise funds for senior citizens amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With lyrics by Javed Akhtar; music by Shankar Mahadevan, Jatin Pandit, and Raju Singh; and performed through the dynamic voice of Shankar Mahadevan, the animated music video honors the frontline workers who are risking their lives to save others.

What does the song convey? Entrusting faith in friends and countrymen, it says that we have patience, courage, and understanding, and we will certainly overcome the storm and remove the veil of darkness. The dark night will give way to a day of light, promise, and hope, and it will be the victory of mankind. We need to be fully prepared to fight the disease. Let’s shed our grudges and differences and be one, for our strength is in our unity. A tip about social distancing and staying home figures in the song along with a heartfelt message that it is our responsibility to care in any way we can for the hungry and the homeless. A line that is repeated for emphasis is about the triumph of life over death.

We have such examples of soul-stirring music that were earlier created when the country had gone through turbulent times. Set against the backdrop of the Indo-China War of 1962 stands the patriotic song Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo (O people of my country) that touched the heart of every Indian. It was a homage to the soldiers who had sacrificed their lives in the battle. With forceful lyrics by Kavi Pradeep, and music composition by C. Ramchandra, the song came alive in the golden voice of Lata Mangeshkar. So magical was the poignance of this song that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India at the time, was instantly driven to tears when it was first sung.

Echoing the same sentiments, a song was composed and sung by Bhupen Hazarika, the uncrowned king of Northeast India’s musical world. The bard of the Brahmaputra penned “Koto Juwanor Mrityu Hol” (So many Jawans lie dead) while the war was fought on the doorsteps of Arunachal Pradesh, which was then a part of Assam. In the song, he lamented the passing away of youthful men as he saw fathers losing their sons, mothers with hearts broken, women widowed, and the dreams of many shattered and reduced to ashes. He expressed that he had not endured the physical pain of the dead, and the only way he could offer his tribute to them was through his silent tears.

The melodies rang in our ears, making us feel like we were one in the struggle. Close to six decades after they were composed, these songs, one nationwide and the other in the state of Assam, continue to touch chords. They have been preserved as invaluable gems in our music collection. Such is the ubiquitous charm of music to unite and calm our senses.

Let us today celebrate the healing potential of music. At this juncture, uncertainty rules our lives, yet let’s not accept defeat. We need to stand undeterred with grace and confidence and nourish the hope that it’s ultimately life that will prevail over death just as Javed Akhtar saab’s emphatic lyrics say, “Maut harengi, zindagi jeetegi’!

(This article was a Featured Post in Women’s Web )

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