State Anthem govt Prescription, More Sentimental than Practical

February 21, 2024

Let me briefly introduce myself to the media as a filmmaker, singer, music composer, spiritualist and as a member of Indian Motion Picture Producers’ Association (IMPPA), Mumbai. I hail from Mangaluru and am based in Mumbai pursuing my activities in the fields of films, music and television under my banner, ‘Madhurya’ with a stern penchant for quality.

Late Mysuru Ananthaswamy’s tune for state anthem was approved by the BJP government on 25th September, 2022. Mysuru Ananthaswamy and Late C. Ashwath were the only two composers being considered by the government for their tunes of the state anthem, ‘Jaya Bharata Jananiya Tanujate’ penned by Kuvempu. I had initially supported Ananthaswamy’s tune with some editing, but later on as the selection was kept pending for nearly two decades, I felt that the government might not have been fully satisfied with the tunes of both Ananthaswamy and Ashwath. I wrote a letter dated 18th November, 2021 to the then CM, Shri Bommai suggesting to invite more compositions from others so that we could have more choices and the best tune could prevail. I also told him that I had already composed two tunes for the same song of Kuvempu and would like to submit them for audition. In the said letter, I had also proposed to release albums of the devotional songs of Kanakadasa, Purandaradasa, Basaveshwara and also, ‘Bhavageetes’ of Kuvempu and others under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Kannada and Culture. I had mailed copy of this letter to Shri Sunil Kumar, the then Minister of Kannada and Culture. When there was no response for more than a year, I contacted Smt. H.R. Leelavathi, Head of the 17-member Selection Committee and made her listen to my tunes of the anthem. She appreciated my tunes but said that she had already recommended Ananthaswamy’s tune to the government and there could not be any change in her stand.

An anthem’s length should always be within around one minute. Otherwise it will be irksome, tedious and sounds dragging while rendering. Even our national anthem, ‘Jana Gana Mana’ has the duration of only one minute. Our other national song, ‘Vande Mataram’ is of less than one minute by using the starting lines and only the first stanza and never the entire song. But, the government ordered the complete rendition of the anthem in two minutes and thirty seconds without excluding any words from the lengthy song of Kuvempu consisting of four starting lines followed by six stanzas having seven to nine lines each. In 1990, government had fixed the length of the song at one minute and ten seconds which was sensible. Ananthaswamy has not used Kuvempu’s song in its entirety. His original recorded version has only the starting four lines and two selected stanzas with total duration of four minutes and twenty six seconds including introductory and interlude music and interjections like, Áhaha and Ohoho’ which are disallowed in an anthem. Evidently, Ananthaswamy had composed this tune before the song was selected as the state anthem. How can the anthem have the complete song of Kuvempu without excluding any words when Ananthaswamy had not sung the entire song at all. Even Ashwath’s tune for the entire song of Kuvempu is not suitable for the anthem, considering its unwanted length and lack of musical appeal.

Kuvempu’s sober and sublime song was declared to be the state anthem by the congress government headed by S.M. Krishna as CM in 2004, the year of Kuvempu’s birth centenary celebration. But even before that, in 1989, several Kannada schools sang this song cutting it short to around 60 seconds for which Kuvempu himself had consented. But now the 2.30 minutes long complete song as the anthem will have 44 lines and 28 personal names to be remembered while rendering. Leave alone school children, even our honourable ministers will fumble and forget the lines if they try to sing the anthem. Our PM, Shri Narendra Modi, during his visit to Mangaluru on 02nd September, 2022, helplessly stood on the dais, when Ashwath’s 3.32 minutes tune of the anthem was being played, waiting and wondering when it would end.

Ananthaswamy was a great singer and composer. I never claimed that my tune was the best. I only suggested to the government to have more choices so that the best could come out on the basis of merit. I am not opposed to government retaining Ananthaswamy’s tune. But its prescription of singing the lengthy entire song with a duration of 2.30 minutes is mindless and technically and conventionally wrong. The anthem has to be ingeniously edited to bring down its duration to just around one minute. The government had relied more on sentimentality than practicality when a logical and aesthetic approach was needed. Perhaps, the only gaining point to the government now is its chances of entering Guinness Book of Records as the state having the longest anthem in the world. A misconstrued and painstakingly lengthy anthem of 2.30 minutes requiring extrasensory memory is not acceptable.

I had gone to a school to observe how children sang the anthem. I found that it was all a mess and confusion and more a recitation than rendition. How can children sing the complete song of Kuvempu when Ananthaswamy himself did not do so? Ironically, Congress government has now ordered that in the morning all schools, and during special functions, all government departments should compulsorily sing this anthem of 2.30 minutes. It is a pity that neither BJP nor Congress nor the 17-member Selection Committee have realized their faulty decision of prescribing the complete song of Kuvempu in 2.30 minutes. No wonder that the High Court had to intervene by telling them that they have to find out a solution to come out of all the jumblement.




By Manikya Raj
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