California Indian Americans sing of unity, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara


A bunch of Indian Americans have recreated the iconic song Mile Sur Mera Tumhara through an NRI perspective.

The music video, over 13 minutes long, of the song sung in 14 different languages by three San Francisco Bay Area artists and 66 other participants, is directed by a Bay Area-based information-technology executive.

And it has the same pitch as the original song: Unity in diversity.

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara was broadcast of on Doordarshan, then India’s sole TV broadcaster, for the first time on August 15, 1988. The song was composed by Ashok Patki and arranged by Louiz Banks, with lyrics by advertising personality Piyush Pandey. The national integration video was meant to instill a sense of pride, highlighting India’s diversity. The video featured a supergroup of the biggest Indian celebrities then, from musicians to sports stars to movie stars.

Released on January 24 this year, the NRI version of the song video has garnered over 400,000 views on YouTube. “In a Desi heart, everybody is a celebrity and community is a family,” the message reads as the video kicks off.

Anil Gaur, who man behind the video remake, told indica News that he wanted to bring the Indian-American community in California together after the ravages of Covid-19, the devastating wildfires and, above all, the polarizing general election.

Gaur, who calls photography and videography his passion, said that 2020 “felt like gloomy-gloomy — people were low — and what I can do to uplift the spirit in the community? That’s how the idea came in.”

He added: “When we were growing up, we saw our parents humming this song and it gives me goosebumps. So, I thought why not recreate this song with local community members. It may help lift the spirits.”

Gaur said he though of the concept in November and started reaching out — to friends and their friends, colleagues…

Anil Gaur, who directed the video

It turned into a big project and there are so many passionate people around and so much talent in the community…they just need a platform,” Gaur said.

It took 10 weeks to complete the video, four weeks of planning and six weeks of shooting and production.

The first person he enlisted for the video was his friend Shreedhar Ganapathy, who brought in another singer, Shubha Chaki, followed by music composer Pranav Jhumkhawala. A total of 70 people — including rapper Tanya Gupta — worked on it.   

I was surprised and overwhelmed to see the support… I thought it would be a problem but so many people reached out,” he said.

He said the current climate of polarization, both in India and the United States, saddened him.

Even now the protest is going on in India and there is so much hatred in the social media groups. I think people need a channel for energy. If we put that energy into something creative — art that connects people — it’s better,” he said.

Whoever I talked to I felt their morale was down…. people losing jobs… human emotions are contagious. We keep spreading negativity and it just grows. I felt like it was bothering me so much, and the trigger point was the US general election. I thought something has to be done,” said Gaur.

This is the song of India,” he stressed. “It is a celebration of how people from different backgrounds, who have made homes outside India, weaved Indian heritage into their family life, creating bridges across people of all ages. It reflects a cultural unity in its vast diversity.”