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Hotel Mumbai song 'Humein Bharat Kehte Hain': Much-needed reminder about the things that make India

The song, sung by Stebin Ben, has been composed by Sunny Inder, with lyrics by Kumaar.

Shriram Iyengar

The idea of a song in a film that deals with one of the most terrifying moments in the life of a city might feel dissonant, but Anthony Maras's Hotel Mumbai (2019) manages to do it with élan.

The song, 'Humein Bharat Kehte Hain', is a timely reminder of the values that are increasingly lost in a fraught and divided Indian society. 

The song is overlaid with visuals of the employees of the Taj Mahal Hotel going beyond the call of duty to protect the hotel's guests during the infamous 26/11 terrorist attack on Mumbai in 2008.

While the terrorists open fire indiscriminately, the employees, led by Hemant Oberoi, find ways through corridors and alleys to get their guests to safety.

The same sense of care and concern is displayed by the cops, ill equipped to fight an open battle but willing to put their lives on the line to protect those in danger. 

Sung by Stebin Ben, the song has a slow-burning intensity that builds through the composition. Sunny Inder's structure builds over time taking the right peaks and rises alongside the lyrics. The song begins with minimal instruments, particularly the guitar offering a rhythmic underlay to the vocals. Slowly, as the lyrics progress to the more intense emotions of unity, sacrifice, and humanity, the rhythmic percussion and chorus jump in. 

The lyrics by Kumaar are quite moving and eschew the usual jingoism. While it is not completely avoided, the jingoism is replaced by an emphasis on sacrifice, and healing, qualities which seem particularly essential in India today.

Hotel Mumbai, directed by Anthony Maras, is set for release on 29 November. 

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