Boy saved by Mother Teresa is back to celebrate her life

Gautam Lewis, now a pilot, musician, photographer and filmmaker, comes back to pay tributes.

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:01 pm IST

Published - August 23, 2016 11:05 pm IST - KOLKATA

The year was 1980. A three-year-old boy diagnosed with polio, left on the streets of Howrah, was brought by Mother Teresa to the Missionaries of Charity.

Thirty-six years later, as Rome prepares to canonise Mother Teresa on September 4, the boy Gautam Lewis, now a 39-year-old pilot, musician, photographer and filmmaker, has returned to the city with a documentary film, a photography exhibition, and a song that will be released in over 200 countries on September 4 — all tributes celebrating Mother Teresa.

The song, titled ‘Mora Ganng’, which will have an international release in over 200 countries on September 4, uniquely blends the traditional Eastern melody of a Rabindranath Tagore composition with contemporary Western rhythms that include hip hop and rap.

Giving final touches to the song with a group of young musicians, Mr. Lewis told The Hindu that he wanted “a non-Catholic voice to tell their version of the incredible story of an international icon”.

“There is a fading in the legacy [of Mother Teresa]. The purpose is to make the younger generation aware,” added Mr. Lewis, who is manager of The Cypher Project, which has created the song.

The lyrics of Tagore’s “ Ebar tor mora gaange baan esheche/ Joy maa bole bhasa tori ” (Now the dead stream returns high tide/ Set your raft sailing chanting mother’s name) beautifully come together in hip hop as “Oh mother, hold me up, let me fly”. The song has been performed by Sourjya Datta Ray, Rounak Cizzy Chakraborty and Alo Chakraborty, who have also been featured in the three-minute video, which highlights vignettes from the city, images of the Missionaries of Charity, and the lives of those who, in spite of poverty and disability, fight to keep hope alive in the city of joy.

The proceeds of the song will go to the street children of Kolkata via different NGOs. The artists and the band manager say that it’s an attempt to change the vocabulary of how Mother Teresa is presented.

Other than the song, Gautam Lewis’ documentary film Mother Teresa & Me will be screened at an upcoming film festival dedicated to her in the city.

Mr. Lewis, who counts among his earliest memories the sight of planes flying above the roof of the Missionaries of Charity, was later adopted by nuclear physicist Patricia Lewis who took him to the U.K. He went on to fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot there.

Mr. Lewis, who said that the multimedia project, which includes the song, the photographs and the film, has three main characters: Mother Teresa, Kolkata and himself, adding, “Mother Teresa would be not who she was had it not been for Kolkata, and vice versa.”

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