This hasn't hasn't happened to me very often, when I wake up dreamily humming “Guzar jayega..Bandeya ye sama, guzar jayega” from a recent poignant, melodious and immensely positive work of art that has stayed with me.
Such videos of hope come and go with mere reporting on its obvious and popular contents. In times when art and music reviews have almost been non-existent, the making of this video deserves special attention.
This video titled Guzar Jayega for the first time assembles 50 singers and 115 artistes from film, music, sports and media, apart from its biggest catch -- the voice of Amitabh Bachchan that narrates the messages of hope. The video has been conceptualised and presented by Varun Prabhudayal, who brought Amitabh Bachchan and all other artists together for thise creative effort.
Guzar Jayega, meaning this too shall pass, is a seven-and-a-half-minute video created and directed by Agra-based photographer Jay Verma during the lockdown period. Within a few days of its quiet release on youtube and its first share by Amitabh Bachchan, it secured around 10 lakh eyeballs internationally, so far.
So, what's so good about it? It’s immensely warm, soothing and soulful music composed by a young and fast emerging singer and musician Jazim Sharma, stunning visuals, and its message of hope wrapped in carefully chosen words by Jay and Siddhant Kaushal make the video what it is. Needless to mention, Bachchan’s echoing, haunting, sturdy, confident and reassuring baritone reading Guzar jayega, Jeene ka jo ye jazba hai phir ubhar aayega, begins the magic from the word go. The poetry in the song is simple and inspiring, but fused with the sonorous music it touches heart going beyond words.
An excellent editing by Asif Sheikh and the grand aura of black and white shots followed by largely glossy audios, encourage viewers not to miss out any amid ever changing characters on screen. Amid countless visuals, some capture the heart straightaway -- the one in which a COVID-19 patient in hospital seems dead, but alongside a falling drop of iv fluid, he blinks his eye and the doctor wrapped in PPE shows a thumbs up, an assurance of his life, a smiling sweeper feeling grateful being praised for his relentless duty, barren roads across the globe and skyscrapers with haunting feeling. The immersive, sinking and emerging monochrome shots get a second life as the visuals change to bright colours with lyrical lines lip-synched by Shreya Ghoshal, Shaan, Kailash Kher, Sonu Nigam, Nooran Sisters, Juhi Chawla Jassi, Jaspinder Narula, Sania Mirza, Harbhajan SIngh, Mahesh Bhupati, Babita Phogat, Yuvraj Singh and more. Shots that have Sonu Sood, Kapil Sharma, Ekta Kapoor and Anoop Jalota have stunning backdrops, making viewing a pleasurable experience though interestingly, as Jazim shares with me, most artistes were asked to sing against a white backdrop as a symbol of peace. Incidentally all those look dull and monotonous.
The making of the first such video had its own share of rejections, shelving and rising up to the occasion.
“I was working on a song for my NGO but we ended up making this one. The Idea was not to be preachy like others but use an element of hope as the fatigue of lockdown was creeping in, and everyone was looking forward to something reasoning with hope. Our first video was a total disaster. We shelved it and apologised from the channels which wanted to release it. Feeling down, I decided to give it another shot. I literally smuggled an amature editor living in the same building to my home amid red zone and lockdown. We worked tirelessly for 10 days, everything was done on zoom, recalls Jay for whom “handling egos of 115 big artistes wasn’t easy”.
Notably, since this is the world's only video having the largest number of artistes singing and acting, “we have decided to send it for Guinness Book of World Records too” says Jazim whose intelligent handling of all types of voices received over phone, hint at his rigorous training on ground.
The video however caters to a certain class, where those locked up in palatial homes spreading messages of love and hope are well-heeled -- having no worries like migrant labourers. poor and the middle class -- of food, shelter and work. It doesn’t have a single shot on the real sufferers on the road, enroute their hometowns, starving and dying. Quite an unrealistic and armchair take on hope, that way.
Jay agrees. “We have our one team member, the DOP in Delhi. He is quite resourceful so I asked him to get me some shots of (poor) people on the ground. He tried his best to shoot sweepers, nurses and migrant workers but they were not good enough to use. Due to complete lockdown he couldn't manage to get what we wanted, so we had to make do with what he could arrange under the circumstances. We may do a second part as the lockdown is over.”
Certainly created with the “heart than the head” hence, with the honesty, sonority and the warmth, Guzar Jayega has the possibility of becoming a universal anthem of hope in adverse times.