“Where words fail, music speaks.”
-Hans Christian Andersen
The night when students of Jawaharlal Nehru University were attacked, Aamir Aziz decided to fight and penned down these lines which became the soul of anti CAA protests across the country and beyond the borders.
Tum syahiyon se jhooth likhoge,humein maloom hai
Ho hamare khoon se hi sahi, sach zaroor likkha jayega
Sab yaad rakha jayega, Sab yaad rakha jayega
(We know that you will draft lies with ink/
Be it with our blood, the truth will absolutely be written down/
everything will be remembered)
The anti-CAA protests would be marked in the resistance history of the country for many reasons. It was one of those times where we saw women leading the protests. The entire grammar of protest history was re-written when people resorted to different means, found refuge in different mediums. And, music was a vital force that brought people together.
Varun Grover’s ‘Hum Kagaz Nahin Dikhayenge’ is yet another recital that was used time and again during these protests. He wrote:
“Hum Kaagaz Nahi Dikhayenge,
Taana-Shah Aake Jayenge,
Hum Kaagaz Nahi Dikhayenge”
Protesters were also seen singing Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ‘Hum Dekhenge’, Habib Jalib’s ‘Dastoor’ and Rahat Indori’s ‘Kisi ke baap ka Hindustan thodi hai.’
It is also interesting as to how Faiz’s song which was written against the dictatorship of Jia-Ul-Haq in Pakistan soon was labelled ‘anti-Hindu’. But as the criticism on the song got stronger, we witnessed more and more people singing at protest sites.
Kabir Kala Manch’s Sheetal Sathe had been another powerful presence. She recited:
Angrezon se lade the hum, kaun yeh desi sahab hai
Azadi hamaara khwaab hai, yeh gulab nahin inquilaab hai
(We had fought against the British, who is this desi White Man
Azadi is our dream, this rose is the revolution)
However, all these songs engaged with the long-standing genres of Indian/Hindi music. But what made the resistance music of these days different is also the fact that it wasn’t confined to a single language or a single genre. From poetry recitations to Ghazals and hip-hop, it had a wider appeal.
Let it be Park Circus’s ‘Kranthikari’ or metal band Down Troddence’s ‘Fight.React.Be a part.!’ Independent musicians also teamed up to find newer voices for the ongoing protests, and as it can be seen from the streets, music heightens the movement.
Arivu’s Tamil rap ‘Sanda Seivom’, and Malayalam band Allalla’s ‘Aavola‘ also became popular.
All of these songs have catchy lyrics, they have faster beats, and the theme is rage. The songs are a direct call for revolution. While some raise the argument that protest sites are not sites of celebration, there is no doubt that this is an emerging trend. And one has to see how it takes forward itself. There is no doubt, however, that music is setting a rhythm for the protests in the country.