The year was 1997, I was having the life of a seventh grader by then. Patriotism in those days for me was pretty much confined within the daily chore of reciting national anthem at school. Other than that, well may be the movie ‘‘Roja’’, telecasted on every Independence Day on DD National refreshed the sense of being an Indian. It was like a fresh installation of national pride when Bharat Bala productions came out with the album ''vande mataram'' featuring my all time favorite music director A R Rahman. For me it was much more than that.
The sequel to Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was released days before the August of 1997 in my favorite screen at Kochi, Sridhar. Since it was one of the most awaited movies of the year, everyone in my family have been making plans to go to the movies to have the Jurassic experience yet again. I guess, it was during the Onam holidays, as most of our family was present in our Tharavadu at Vaduthala as part of the usual holiday reunion. Surprisingly, a sudden decision was made during one of those afternoons to set off to Sridhar at the city of Kochi, for a 6:30pm show of The Lost World. Movies in theaters were something I have always been crazy for since my childhood and it still gives me goose bumps when the Universal Pictures or 20th Century Fox is screened with Digital sounds in the big screen. Almost everyone in our family, mostly the guy gang including uncles and cousins set off to Sridhar, needless to say me & my cousins were overly excited. I still remember listening to the big sounds of dinosaur walks while we were waiting in the queue to grab tickets for the show outside the theatre. I always loved seeing the writing ‘‘DTS & Dolby Surround system’’ on top of the doors to the theatre hall. It was possibly a family first for us with such a big group fully occupying almost a complete row of the First class seats. As soon as grabbing our seats, two of us from the group set outside the theatre to buy some 2 Kg’s of apple as nothing was bought as snacks. We hurried back to the hall amidst the crowds still packing the queues, to witness something surprisingly extraordinary on the screen.
The man in blue jeans with a glowing heavenly white shirt was singing the most powerful national outcry ‘vande mataram’. Yes, the man was A R Rahman and he was crying his heart out with such powerful melodious and catchy tune that the whole of us were having a fresh feeling for our country like never before. That was one of the best theatre experiences I have ever had till today. If it wasn’t for A R Rahman, I would not have felt any different for the 50th year of Indian Independence. Though I was a diehard fan of A R Rahman ever since ''Roja'', it took me a few years to possess the audio cassette of ''vande mataram''. Just reading the words of A R Rahman written over its cassette cover is enough to ignite a new sense of being an inspired human being with strong feelings for my country. The album is indeed a timeless collection of musical magic covering the energetic ‘‘Maa Tujhe Salaam’’, the natural & peaceful Revival (vande mataram), the fresh & innocent ‘‘Gurus of Peace’’, ‘‘Tauba Tauba’’, ‘‘Missing’’ (vande mataram), ‘‘Only You’’ & the Tamil version ‘‘Thai Mannai Vanakkam’’.
‘‘All perfect praises belong to the Almighty alone. I dedicate this album to the future generations of India. I wish that this album inspires them to grow up with the wealth of Human values and ethics that this country is made of.’’ – A R Rahman.