For most Indians 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara' has been close to the heart. The song which first premièred on 15th August 1988, was themed around 'unity in diversity.' It made Indians hum the lyrics of different languages they could never think of speaking. In the single channel Doordarshan era it was one of the most sought after programmes. The song which had Bollywood stars, musicians, cultural icons, sportsman and ordinary has its appeal even in the new millennium India. The song's popularity can be judged from the fact that it is one of the highest searched videos in YouTube.
To cash on this popularity and to spread the message of 'unity and diversity' in a rising and fast globalising India 'Phir Mile Sur' was conceived. The song has all the Bollywood stars from Aamir Khan to Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Bachchan and the list goes on. It seemed more of a Bollywood unity song than a song which unifies India. Sportsman were hardly represented, especially cricketers. India's biggest sporting icon Sachin Tendulkar not featuring has raised some eyebrows.
The original song had become popular due to it's rhythm which seemed missing in the new version. The song seemed montage of tunes and beats rather than a unity song and completely out of sync. The song seemed a little too long at almost 16 minutes. Noted author Chetan Bhagat says “Phir Mile Sur was so excruciatingly long, you almost wish India wasn't such a diverse place. 16 mins? Can't ppl sing together?"
If the earlier song represented diversity through language and places here it was more to do with Bollywood stars and singers from different part of the country. Subharaj Saha working with an MNC in Hyderabad says “The video was totally out of tune unlike the original one. I also felt that North-East has been completely overlooked (an immobile Bhupen does not count) There is so much more to N.E. The earlier video had representation of all the states as well"
Echoing him journalist Raj says “Pathetic version of a remarkable song! lost the message and meaning of the original! The song has been a disappointment to many others. Delhi based Nirmal Sharma says “What were they trying to prove? Bollywood is the only thing that unites India?" Arif however has a different take and says “This video has honoured the armed forces unlike the original which had no representation of our brave soldiers"