Music

Ankur Tewari’s ‘Woh Hum Nahin’ is an anthem for peace

Musician Ankur Tewari’s latest, ‘Woh Hum Nahin’ speaks out against the politics of hate

What does an anthem of unity and resistance sound like? At times it is cutting, angry and urgent, like, Dub Sharma and Divine’s ‘Azadi’. And sometimes, as Ankur Tewari’s ‘Woh Hum Nahin’ shows, it is an emotional sing-along melody.

The singer-songwriter’s latest track, released on JioSaavn, is his response to the ongoing violence in the college campuses of Delhi — Jamia Millia Islamia and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU). ‘Woh Hum Nahin’ (That is not us) chooses to dissociate itself from those that “propagate the politics of hate,” says Ankur. “The phrase came to me because of how the hate from certain hypocritical people has hijacked most of the things seen as peaceful earlier, such as the flag and the National Anthem. That idea had been ringing in my head for quite a while.”

It was earlier last month, on the night that violence broke out in JNU as a mob attacked students inside the campus, that Ankur put this idea into words and set it to music. Even though it officially released a few days ago, he played the song the day after, at a Mumbai gathering in solidarity with the students of JNU. “I clearly remember I forgot a line while playing, and apologised, saying I just wrote the song yesterday, so I couldn’t remember the lines. Vishal Bhardawaj was sitting right there, and he said, ‘It’s okay, the violence also only happened yesterday.’ So it was all quite organic.”

The song is an addition to the line of socially conscious tracks that he has been making for the past couple of years. His previous song, ‘Aainda’, too was a dig at hate-spouting social media. ‘Woh Hum Nahin’ lacks aggressiveness, but still manages to be evocative, ending in an ensemble crowd singing the refrain along with Ankur. “I love melodies, and the way they echo in people’s minds. I want people to feel peaceful and loved, when they hear this song. It is about sitting together, even with people who don’t agree with your ideology, and have a civil conversation.”

Ankur Tewari’s ‘Woh Hum Nahin’ is an anthem for peace

The singer is one among many artistes, musicians, standup comedians and graphic designers who have taken a stand on the student movement against CAA/NRC.

While he is glad about this, he says the number of people speaking up doesn’t matter to him. “I have done gigs where no one has showed up, and others where 50,000 people have showed up. It has never been about the numbers — even if one person shows up and shares my dream, that is enough for me.”

Despite the reaction it is receiving so far, Ankur refuses to call it a protest anthem: “Protests have a negative connotation to it. I think of this as more of a peace anthem. At a time when agents of hate are trying to polarise us, it is about standing together,” he says. “ The whole song is about standing in unity and solidarity. Since childhood, the one thing I have understood about our nation is unity in diversity, and I completely believe in it. If you think you can divide us, that is not us.”

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 10:37:06 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/ankur-tewaris-woh-hum-nahin-is-an-anthem-for-peace/article30726160.ece

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