Vande Mataram (album)

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Vande Mataram
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 12, 1997[1]
Panchathan Record Inn
(Chennai, India)
Sarm West Studios
(London, UK)
Metropolis Studios
(London, UK)
Reaktor Studios
(London, UK)
Sargam Studios
(Lahore, Pakistan)
XIC Studios
(Mumbai, India)
GenreWorld music, Indian pop, Folk rock[2]
LabelColumbia/SME Records
CK 68525 (North America)
488709 (international)
ProducerA. R. Rahman
Kanika Myer Bharat

Vande Mataram is a 1997 studio album by Indian musician A. R. Rahman. It is Sony Music India's largest-selling non-film album to date.[3] It released on December 9, 1997 by Sony's music labels Columbia Records and SME Records. It was released on the Golden Jubilee anniversary of India's independence and has been instrumental in instilling a sense of patriotic pride and national unity amongst the people of India. Ever since release, both the album and its title song "Maa Tujhe Salaam" have had a profoundly positive and unifying impact on the nationalistic and patriotic mood of the country. The album also features "Gurus of Peace" which Rahman recorded with the late Pakistani Qawwali singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

A critical and commercial hit, the title song from the album is one of India's most popular songs of all time. Sung by Rahman himself, the song has come to represent a feeling of patriotic unity for India and has been performed or played at several national and regional events in the country. The popularity of the song was such that in 2002, when BBC World Service conducted an international poll to choose the ten most famous songs of all time from around 7000 songs selected from all over the world, "Maa Tujhe Salaam" was voted second.[4] The track also holds two Guinness World Records for being the song performed in the most number of languages. Indian singer Sai "Psychuck" Manapragada performed the track in 265 different languages (individually) and again in 277 languages (with chorus) to achieve this feat twice.[5] Rahman was also issued an Guinness World Record certificate for being the composer of the original song which was ceremoniously presented to Rahman after his concert in Oakland, CA, USA on September 12, 2010.[6]

The album won the 1997 Screen Videocon Award for Best Non-Film Album.[7]


In 1996, when Rahman had gone to Bombay (now Mumbai) to attend the Screen Awards ceremony, he met his childhood friend Bharat Bala. During this meeting both had discussed a proposal for an album to commemorate 50 years of Indian Independence in 1997. In 1997, the International music label, Sony Music, entered the Indian market in a big way. They were looking to promote Indian artistes internationally. And the first person to be signed up by Sony Music from the Indian sub-continent was A.R.Rahman, on a three-album contract. The financial details of the contract were not disclosed but Industry experts believe it to be the largest of its kind in India. Rahman suggested the idea that he had discussed with Bharat to Sony Music India and was immediately accepted. Called Vande Mataram, it was a tribute to the motherland and featured songs to mark the three colours of the Indian Flag .[8]

A. R. Rahman conceptualized the album to commemorate the fifty years of India's independence and to pay tribute to India. Prior to the release, Rahman said: "I dedicate this album to the future generations of India. I wish that this album inspires them to grow up with wealth of human values and ethics that this country is made of".[9] Several postcards were supplied with the album, so as to spread messages of aesthetic values. The themes were

  • Freedom
  • Love
  • Harmony
  • Peace


Sony asked him to choose from any of its international stars to work with and supposedly even suggested the name of Celine Dion. But Rahman settled, very appropriately, for the Pakistani Sufi music singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Sting's guitarist Dominic Miller. Rahman had decided that he would definitely work with Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan after he attended his performance in Delhi. Explaining his choice, "I don't want to collaborate with just a name. I must feel something for the person and relate with his work. I've seen several famous names collaborating on songs and albums , but they remain just two names. There's no chemistry. It's like oil and water. They can' t come together." He went all the way to Pakistan to record the "Gurus of Peace" number with Khan.[8] This is supposedly the first time that an Indian and Pakistani artiste have come together to create this kind of music.[9] Rahman worked overtime for this prestigious project that his film assignments went behind schedule.[8]

About the development of "Maa Tujhe Salaam", Rahman says: "In late January, on the 27th day of Ramzan, an auspicious time when legend has it that angels open the gates of heaven and all prayers are answered, I descended on my studio. It was 2 AM and my sound engineer had disappeared. And so I called Bala (Bharat Bala) and when he arrived I told him you're the sound engineer. And then I sang for the first time, a few verses for just the two of us. "It was magical," says Bala. "He laughed, then he cried," says Rahman.[1]

Rahman chose Mehboob, who had written songs for Bombay, Rangeela etc. for Rahman, as the lyricist. He was given an instruction: no archaic verse. Don't create anything that "youngsters would respect but never sing", says Mehboob.[1]

Chaiyya Chaiyya was originally composed for the album. But as it didn't fit it, it was replaced for the film Dil Se...


In March 1997, amid Sony Music executives in Mumbai, came a sort of penultimate test. Sridhar Subramaniam, director, marketing, Sony Music India says: "Everybody was really nervous. It's an exhausting song and Davis Martin, head of Sony Music Asia doesn't speak a word of Hindi, but in 40 seconds we knew. It was fresh, new." It got better. In May, at a Sony conference in Manila, where the bigger the name you can drop means the more attention you get, they got 20 minutes. When the songs from the album were played, pre-release, at the Sony Music conference in Manila, Sony Music executives representing various Sony Music sub-labels reportedly went berserk and clamoured for the international rights of the album. They played the song; pandemonium reigned. The head of Columbia records (a Sony label) said, "It's unbelievable, I want it." The head of Epic records (another Sony label) said, "I don't care, I want it." Says Subramaniam: "It was the hit of the conference."[1]

Amid great hype, the album was released on 12 August 1997, three days before the 50th anniversary of Indian independence. The Indian release had only 7 songs while the international release had two additional songs "Masoom" and "Musafir". Later "Masoom" was released in India in the album Gurus of Peace and "Musafir" in the album MTV Total Mix.


The album was met with overwhelming responses. Rahman became the first Indian artist of popular music to go international when Vande Mataram was released simultaneously in 28 countries across the world. Rahman himself performed live at Vijay Chowk in New Delhi on the eve of the Golden Jubilee of Indian Independence to a packed audience that comprised the Prime Minister of India, Inder Kumar Gujral. The album was a big success, selling over 500,000 copies in the first week, and over 1.5 million copies in India during 1997.[1] It also did very well internationally, selling millions worldwide,[10] and becoming the largest selling Indian non-film album internationally.

Screen India's reviewer said, "A. R. Rahman's tribute to India in its 50th year of independence was a well-synchronised effort. Both, Rahman's music and singing, were appreciated, and the lead track "Maa Tujhe Salaam", with its brilliant orchestration, is a befitting '90s ode to the motherland. Another highlight is Rahman's duet with Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, "Gurus of Peace"."[11] Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album a rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars, describing it as "a vibrant, exciting album that has the potential to reach beyond the traditional world music fan."[12]

Initially there was some negative criticism against Rahman for using phrases of India's national song "Vande Mataram" in the title track; "Maa Tujhe Salaam". With the immense popularity and widespread appeal for the song from all over India, much of this criticism was ignored. The song "Maa Tujhe Salaam" got repeated airplay in the world music category on radio and television channels across the world.

Track listing[edit]

# Song Singer(s) Length Lyrics Notes
1 "Maa Tujhe Salaam" A. R. Rahman 6:11 Mehboob Backing vocals by Rita Campbell, Deepika Thathaal, Joy Rose, Chris Ballin, Sophia James
Percussion by Peter Lockett
Guitar by Mark James
Video Editing by Chetan Desai
2 "Revival" A. R. Rahman 7:40 Bankim Chandra Chatterjee Traditional Song
Backing vocals by Anuradha Sriram, Sujatha, Kalyani Menon & Seema
Percussion by Sivamani
Santoor by Srinivasalu
Saxophone by Chris "Snake" Davis
Oboe by Sara Prosser
3 "Gurus of Peace" Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, A. R. Rahman 6:27 Mehboob, Tim Cody & Dinesh Kapoor Backing vocals by Katy Stephenson, Emma Bigwood, Gemma Austreng, Brittaney Love & Georgina Gill
Acoustic guitar by Mahesh Tinaikar
4 "Tauba Tauba" A. R. Rahman 6:11 Mehboob Indian Rhythms by Laxmi Narayan, Neelakantan & Veda
Shehnai by Appa Rao
5 "Only You" A. R. Rahman 5:40 Mehboob Percussion by Sivamani
Bass guitar by Keith Peters
6 "Missing (Vande Mataram)" Instrumental 5:11
7 "Thai Manne Vanakkam" A. R. Rahman 6:11 Vairamuthu Tamil version of "Maa Tujhe Salaam"
8 "Masoom" A. R. Rahman 6:08 Gulzar Sitar by Janardhanan
9 "Musafir" A. R. Rahman, Faye 5:43 Tim Kody, Kanika Myer Bharat Percussion by Peter Lockett
Oboe by Sara Prosser
  • The tracks "Maa Tujhe Salaam", "Revival", and "Gurus of Peace" represent the three colours - saffron, white and green respectively - of the national flag.[9]
  • "Revival" and "Missing" are both arrangements of Vande Mataram.
  • "Musafir" and "Gurus of Peace" were partial reuses of Rahman's earlier film songs, "Ottagathai Kattiko" (from Gentleman) and "Porale Ponnuthayi" (from Karuththamma) respectively.
  • "Gurus of Peace" was the only song sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for Rahman and this was one of the last songs of him as he died some months later. As a tribute to him, Rahman released an album titled Gurus of Peace.

Album credits[edit]



Post production[edit]

  • Chetan Desai



Stanford Raagapella, a South Asian fusion a cappella group, has created an a cappella version of the song Maa Tujhe Salaam[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "A Song for India". India Today. 1 September 1997. Archived from the original on 2 March 1999.
  2. ^ "A.R. Rahman – Vande Mataram". Discogs. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
  3. ^ Salma Khatib (22 September 2000). "Indi-pop: Down But Not Out". Screen India. Archived from the original on 20 January 2010. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  4. ^ The Worlds Top Ten — BBC World Service
  5. ^ "NRI songster storms into Guinness". The Hindu. 2010-08-20. Retrieved 2012-02-10.
  6. ^ AR Rahman Guinness World Record.
  7. ^ "Screen Videocon Award Winners". Screen India. 1997-01-23. Archived from the original on 2009-07-03. Retrieved 2011-04-09.
  8. ^ a b c "Artist of the Month: AR Rahman". TFM. January 2006.
  9. ^ a b c "Sony to launch A R Rahman as international artiste on Independence Day". Rediff. August 1997. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  10. ^ Mathai, Kamini (2009). A. R. Rahman: The Musical Storm. Penguin Group. p. 160. ISBN 9788184758238.
  11. ^ "Audio Reviews: The Best of 1997". Screen India. 1997. Retrieved 28 April 2011.
  12. ^ "A.R. Rahman - Vande Mataram". Allmusic. Retrieved 30 August 2012.
  13. ^ "Stanford Raagapella". Retrieved 2012-08-25.