Ricky Kej releases his new version of Jana Gana Mana, recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
"I’ve always wanted to record this version and it might be my best one, yet," says Ricky Kej
Ricky Kej is known for his love for his country. What with his multiple projects with the United Nations and his work with refugees, this eco-warrior, however, has also several anthems or versions of them to his credit. We first remember Ricky releasing a Kannada anthem several years ago — Jaya Hai Kannada Taaye in 2011, a version of which was re-released as the anthem for wildlife in Karnataka in 2015.
In 2017, Ricky then composed a similar wildlife tribute anthem, but this time around to celebrate wildlife across the country and therefore, quite fittingly, the national anthem — Jana Gana Mana. In 2022, Ricky then also released a rendition of the national anthem with the voices of refugees who have since called India home and this also commemorated Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
This year, the three-time Grammy Award musician decided to challenge himself to release his most ambitious version of the Indian national anthem and this time around, with a 100-member arrangement of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. We caught up with Ricky to find out more.
“The idea was to create my best version yet and so the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra seemed like the grandest idea I could envisage. We recorded this just a week ago and it turned out to be more than what I ever expected it to be. I’ve always wanted to record this version and it might be my best one, yet,” begins Ricky.
The version, running the exact duration of the official version of the Indian National Anthem also features vocals from the orchestra that come in only towards the ‘Jaya Hey’ finale. “We decided to keep the vocals out for the rest of the song because I wanted people to concentrate on what they were singing. Not a soul I know in India, does not know the words to the anthem and so even though it’s an instrumental version, except for the ‘Jaya Hey,’ I feel it will make people sing the rest of the anthem in their minds or from memory anyway,” Ricky explains.
The anthem crescendo towards the end featuring voices of non-Indians singing the ‘Jaya Hey,’ however seems a fitting tribute to our country that till around 80 years ago was still being forced to sing ‘God Save The King/Queen.’ It feels only justified that singers in the UK sing our Jana Gana Mana, 76 years after our independence, in quite the role reversal. Quite fitting, we think!