It was on August 15, 1988 that ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ premiered on Doordarshan and instantly became an anthem for India’s unity in diversity. Nearly 22 years later, the song still strikes a chord, and to give it a youth twist Zoom released a new version of the song, titled ‘Phir Mile Sur’.
The original composition was conceptualised and conceived by the late Suresh Mullick of O&M and was directed by Arti and Kailash Surendranath. The song featured several national icons of the time, which included Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Hassan, Lata Mangeshkar and Prakash Padukone, among others.
‘Phir Mile Sur’ premiered on Zoom on the occasion of Republic Day, January 26, 2010 at 7 am and was played out at the top of every hour thereafter. Zoom had also given the airing rights to all major TV and radio networks in the country.
Zoom has come up with a marketing campaign to promote this song, which will be a continuous one. The channel plans to spend around Rs 5-6 crore on the campaign.
For Piyush Pandey, Executive Chairman, Ogilvy India, and Vice Chairman, Ogilvy Asia Pacific, ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ holds a special place and several fond memories. He has been associated with both the original song and the reprised version. Reminiscing about the days of ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’, he said, “In 1988, television was the only source and Doordarshan was the key network. Today, with the growth of various mediums, I guess the time has come to revive this thought again. Personally, for me it was a life sorter, because I was very new to the creative agency. Suresh (Mullick) placed his faith in me to write this song. He did monitor the work very closely and finally the 18th copy that I had written was approved.”
R Sridhar, former Director of O&M India, has recently launched an e- book on Suresh Mullick. The book can be accessed at http://periscopedesign.co.in/index.html and includes articles on Mullick by his friends, family, associates and colleagues, which include names such as SR (Mani) Ayer, R Sridhar, Farida Sabnavis, Anil Uzgare and Roda Mehta.
SR (Mani) Iyer, former Managing Director, O&M India, and long-time partner, boss and friend of Mullick, spoke about his association with the concept creator of ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’. He said, “Watching him (Mullick) work was a lesson for any aspiring advertising man. Everything about him was transparent, honest, endearingly simple and innocent. He had a well-furnished mind, a pervading sense of history and tradition and a mastery of the language.”
In the book, Iyer states, “In Bob Dylan’s language, Suresh saw in the 1970s what was blowing in the wind – meaningless, boring advertising without consideration for the customer – no relevance, taste or memorability. With Suresh, there was no ambiguity: advertising must be relevant and memorable. Even his handwritten notes were powerful copy.”
Going back a bit in time, Lok Parishad Seva Sanchar Parishad had approached O&M in 1988 with the task of “packaging a country into a five-minute jingle in 14 languages”. Thus was born ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’, which was aired for the first time on August 15, 1988, after the telecast of the Prime Minister’s speech from the ramparts of the Red Fort. It captivated millions in India, gaining a near-anthem status ever since.
In August 2008, Ogilvy India paid its paid tribute to Suresh Mullick, the then head of Ogilvy, who had created the ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ song, along with Piyush Pandey. The campaign video was directed by Arti and Kailash Sundernath. The agency had held a poster exhibition with various creatives revolving around the ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’ idea.
The new reprised version of the video has been directed once again by Arti and Kailash Surendranath and includes more than 60 well-known celebrities.
Suresh Bala, CEO, Zoom, is confident about touching a chord with viewers across all age groups and stressed on the point that all religions and languages were represented in the song.
He further said that Zoom had conceived the project last year and it took around eight months to complete it. “When we first conceived the project, we found it daunting. But once again, all the biggest names of Bollywood, the music world, sports stars, and regional superstars, all came forward to make this happen,” he added.
Besides Zoom, the companies associated with the song include the Times Group, Radio City, Vodafone Essar, and Taj Hotels and Resorts.