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Poojan Sahil

Sounds of the world : “Hum Dekhenge”, voice of two countries

pho­to : Poo­jan Sahil

In 2019, the song Hum Dekhenge (we shall see) writ­ten in 1986 by the Pakis­ta­ni poet Faiz became the veri­table anthem of the pro­tests against the dis­cri­mi­na­to­ry citi­zen­ship laws in India. This ico­nic song has a his­to­ry of rat­tling the autho­ri­ta­rian regimes in adver­sa­rial coun­tries – India and Pakistan. 

The poem was writ­ten during Gene­ral Zia-ul-Haq’s oppres­sive mar­tial law regime. Faiz duped the regime with his use of Isla­mic ima­ge­ry to attack the dic­ta­tor­ship. Iqbal Bano, Pakis­ta­ni sin­ger, wore a saree, ban­ned by Pakis­ta­ni Govern­ment, ope­ned her concerts with Hum Dekhenge.  The 50,000-strong crowd joi­ning her in uni­son made the song a sym­bol of defying oppres­sive govern­ments. Faiz might have writ­ten the words but it was Iqbal Bano who made them the potent sym­bol of pro­test they are to date. The song remains just as effec­tive, evo­ca­tive and power­ful in India today as it did in 1986 Pakistan.

The Citi­zen­ship Amend­ment Act was a move to set reli­gion as a basis of citi­zen­ship through immi­gra­tion in India and was seen to be against the secu­lar and consti­tu­tio­nal values of the coun­try. This led to nation­wide pro­tests and many stu­dents joi­ned the move­ment. The autho­ri­ta­rian way in which the govern­ment tried to repress the agi­ta­tion and use of brute force on stu­dents was coun­te­red by the stoic resis­tance and the cou­ra­geous defiance in the form of Hum Dekhenge.

Hum Dekhenge : Faiz’s Ico­nic Song Defines The Anti-CAA Protests

 

The song pre­dicts the fall of oppres­sive and regres­sive forces, the sub­ju­ga­ted today shall rule tomorrow :

When the moun­tains of oppres­sion and cruelty

Will float away like car­ded wool. We shall see.

Under­neath our feet – we the oppressed

The earth will beat like a thum­ping heart

And the sky over the head of the rulers

Will cackle in a sca­ry thunder

The lega­cy of the song lives on. It has been invo­ked again in the cur­rent Farmer’s Move­ment against Farm Bills in India. Even during the ongoing pan­de­mic, as the fight for jus­tice and equa­li­ty conti­nues in the coun­try, the song is echoed by those deman­ding the ful­fillment of these ideals. Even though the pro­tests have dwind­led in scale during the pan­de­mic, online pro­li­fe­ra­tion of the song has conti­nued to grow which seeks to spread the mes­sage of jus­tice and soli­da­ri­ty. The song has thus emer­ged as and conti­nues to be a sym­bol of pro­test invo­ked for the pro­tec­tion of demo­cra­tic values. The song has gar­ne­red an impor­tant emble­ma­tic role in contem­po­ra­ry Indian socie­ty and repre­sents the will and desire for free­dom among the people.

 

Pro­test Songs in India : Meet Musi­cians Sin­ging the Songs of Change

This video includes inter­views and insights by nume­rous Indian artists such as Sumit Roy, Poo­jan Sahil, and Armaan Yadav, who sung Hum Dekhenge and pro­du­ced other pro­test songs in 2018 and 2019. It includes snip­pets of the songs being per­for­med as well as the moti­va­tions of artists who pro­du­ced or sang them.

 

Poo­jan Sahil’s ver­sion of the song Bel­la Ciao : the lyrics are adap­ted to the recent pun­jab far­mers’ struggles and protests 

 

Armaan Yadav’s song Fist Up reniews with under­ground and poli­ti­ci­sed hip-hop. The power­full video clip shows the rea­li­ty of the recent social move­ments in India.

« Mains­tream hip-hop and news media will have you turn a blind eye to all the injus­tice in the coun­try. Howe­ver, under­ground hip-hop hasn’t for­got­ten its roots in resis­tance. This is for eve­ry single artist, acti­vist and ordi­na­ry citi­zen that has had to take on extra­or­di­na­ry res­pon­si­bi­li­ty due to the negli­gence and deli­be­rate avoi­dance of those in power. We have not for­got­ten. Choose a lane, and get your fist up. In soli­da­ri­ty. » Armaan Yadav

 

the author :

Kaus­tubh Mis­ra is cur­rent­ly a first-year under­gra­duate student at Sciences Po, Paris, Cam­pus de Reims. He is an Indian citi­zen who is cur­rent­ly living in France and is inter­es­ted in loo­king at music and its impact from dif­ferent perspectives. 

pho­to : Poo­jan Sahil

 

This article is a result of a col­la­bo­ra­tive pro­ject bet­ween #Aux­Sons and Ale­jan­dro Abbud Torres Tori­ja, lec­tu­rer at Sciences Po Paris Cam­pus Reims, and regu­lar contri­bu­tor to #Aux­Sons. As part of the class “Sounds of the world : Music as mir­ror of the inti­mate and the col­lec­tive”, inter­na­tio­nal stu­dents from Sciences Po Paris Cam­pus Reims pre­pa­red articles pre­sen­ting contem­po­ra­ry music from dif­ferent parts of the world in connec­tion with recent socio-poli­ti­cal events.

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