For 22 years, composer A R Rahman’s Urvasi Urvasi has been an anthem to “take it easy” for Indians. The Tamil song from the film Kadhalan (1994) has been dubbed into Hindi and Telugu, and got updated lyrics recently to factor in, among other things, demonetisation.
Now, we have a feminist narrative for Urvasi, commissioned by the human rights organisation Breakthrough. This version uses pop culture and media to criticise patriarchy – for instance, it takes a jibe at a misogynistic statement by a khap panchayat in Haryana on consuming “chowmein” as the reason for increased rape incidents in the state.
The sequence accompanying the original song had shots of actor Prabhu Deva pulling off impressive dance moves while, among other things, stalking women in public spaces.
The original song did become immense popular, however, with American hip hop artist Will.i.am and singer Cody Wise even recreating it as It’s My Birthday, which topped the UK charts in 2014.