It could have been just another tribute song to the unsung heroes whose undiluted bravery and selflessness during the COVID-19 pandemic have helped save lives. But musician Justin Thomas Chengannur wanted it to be a special mega virtual harmony involving singers from across the globe. When more than 325 artistes from 14 countries harmoniously rendered the lyrics Ee Neravum Nammalum Athijeevanathinte Saakshikal (These times and us are witnesses to this survival), unknown to them, they were creating history! The song went on to become a record-breaker as it made to the World Book of Records, London, America Book of Records, International Book of Records, and Best of India Records for the largest arrangement of a virtual album of quarantined artistes.
Recalling the chain of events that led to the record, Justin, who conceptualized, composed and directed the music video, says, “At a time when the whole world was reeling under the attach of Coronavirus, as a musician, I felt responsible to engage people with music, which is the only tool and art I am equipped with. All I wanted is to keep it short and sweet.”
Himself locked in at his Bengaluru home, Justin composed a song and asked his friends to help trace playback singers to lend voice to the song and be part of the healing initiative. He called up the artistes whom he has associated within the past and soon, happily, joined singers Vijay Yesudas, Jassie Gift, Sudeep Kumar, Sreya Jayadeep, Anju Joseph, RJ Nimmy and Sreya Raghav. They also gathered singers from the US, UAE, Sultanate of Oman, UK, Saudi Arabia, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Kingdom of Bahrain, Kuwait, etc.
Though the song is only close to three minutes long, Justin is glad that he could present an impressive fusion combining rap portions, violin and chorus symphony. “It took me one week to collect the voices and three more weeks to release the final output. It was very challenging. The lyrics were penned by Linku Abraham and Chord of Three. Mixing and mastering was done by Renjith Rajan. The toughest part was vocal editing. I did it my own studio. I had to separately edit each voice, ask for corrections, arranged the vocals, segregated the videos in separate folders and then, sent it to the editor, Jibin Anand. The album was released on the 28th day of conception,” says Justin, who has been composing music for musicals, ad jingles, and devotional albums for over a decade. He also runs a music academy in Bengaluru.
The song was released by actor Manju Warrier on Facebook, and soon followed awards and recognition. Justin considers it as a blessing, a reward for his struggles over the years. “Looks like the lockdown became a blessing in disguise for me,” he says.
His phone hasn’t stopped ringing ever since. In between congratulatory calls and appreciations, more records are being made. So, what’s next? “A Limca record, may be. Or a Guinness. Well, let’s dream bigger now, shouldn’t we,” he asks, hoping for days of glory.