Piya Basanti re, kaahe sataaye? Aaja…

You didn’t just read these words, you sang them, didn’t you? Just humming these lyrics is enough to give you max feels and take you back in time. While the vocals by Ustaad Sultan Khan and K.S. Chithra spoke to the romantics in all of us, the stunning pair of Nauheed Cyrusi and Donovan Wodehouse kept us hooked to the video.

From waiting for it to play on random channels on our TV and Radio sets, to adding it to our favourites on YouTube; it’s no secret that all of us have heard this song innumerable times over the years. And we’ve obviously heard several covers of the original by various artists too but nothing compares to the original. Can you believe it’s been over 20 years since this iconic number first came out and found a place in our hearts?! To commemorate this special milestone, some talented artists came together to create a special Piya Basanti tribute. The video is slightly over a minute and features none other than the original, Piya Basanti girl, Nauheed Cyrusi, herself!

The captivating video is Directed by Rahul Singh Datta, while Kabeer Kathpalia has worked his magic on the music and the entrancing vocals are given by Mallika.

You can watch the Piya Basanti tribute here:

We took this opportunity to speak to Nauheed about the tribute and also the original number. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

It’s been over 20 years, since the iconic original song came out. What made you want to be a part of this beautiful tribute and how was it shooting for it?

“Yes, it’s been over 20 years and this song has changed my life in every way possible. I was just a normal girl studying and I didn’t even know if I would continue studying or end up going into this industry. Piya Basanti cemented my name and mind into this industry. So, when it turned 20, I wanted to do something special, I didn’t know what but I knew I had to because Ustaad Sultan Khan was the most amazing soul.

Rahul Datta, who is the director of this little snippet created this tribute version with his friends Kabir and Mallika who did the music and vocals, respectively. He asked me if I would feature in the video and I was like, “Of course, I’ll do it!” I wouldn’t want to do this with anybody else but because I genuinely love his sensibilities and I love the way he shoots a woman, I agreed.”

Can you tell us how it all came together?

“How this actually came together is that Rahul and I connected on Instagram during the lockdown period. I randomly found him on my Explore page and I just knew we had to work together. We thought about it long and hard, should we do something where it’s vocal? Should I be talking about it? etc. He usually experiments with his videos a lot but we wanted it to relate to something that means a lot to me. As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think I would’ve wanted anybody else to shoot this. So, we said, let’s just do this!

Rahul told me he’d try to make a more current version of the song yet keep it as is. We just wanted to pay a tribute, because we didn’t do it for profits or anything. We just did it for ourselves. So, this literally is a tribute for Piya Basanti from us to us. So, yeah, it just happened so organically and that’s why I think I want everyone who knows or knew about the original song to watch it.”

The sound of this version is very 2021 and yet so nostalgic. What kind of response have you been receiving from fans? 

“I feel odd using terms like fans but yes, Instagram has allowed me to interact with so many people on a one-on-one basis which, in our industry, is not so rampant. In fact, that’s the reason I even got onto Instagram and started getting very active was just a little prior to the lockdown phase. Other than that, I feel that the people who know of me, know me as only the ‘Piya Basanti girl’ or the ‘Maula Mere girl’. So, I am hoping Instagram allows it to reach more people because so many newer people will watch it.

Now also, so many people have watched it and they’re surprised, “Arey! This was you?!” and some are saying lovely things like, “Omg! You are the Piya Basanti girl, always and forever.” So, I think fans are connecting with the new version and also through me as the Piya Basanti and Maula Mere girl.”

Any memorable incident around the original song?

“Back when it had released, I’d received a message from someone whose name I sadly can’t remember. But I remember very categorically, somebody messaging me and saying that the Jawaans in the army would sit and listen to this song every other night.

Also, I have to tell you, Ustaad Sultan Khan ji was the most amazing human being. He was performing at a college event close to my house. I don’t know how he managed to find my number and contact me. He asked if Id go there and be a part of the audience when he performed and of course, I went. There’s no way I would’ve said no! It was just so sweet, we were sitting on the floor watching him perform. He was such a humble man. As he sang this I sat there dumbfounded, wondering what I had done to deserve all this.”

Any message to all the millennials who have grown up falling in love to and with this song?

“Honestly, the only thing I want to tell people is that I really want this video to go far and wide. I am not one to think of numbers and all on Instagram. I’ve always kept it organic and I want this also to go viral organically. I feel it would just be the best thing for everyone! Forget about me, but the artist, singer, and director are so so talented and so creative. I hope this opens newer avenues for them as well!”

We’d surely love to hear the full song in this version, wouldn’t you too?


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