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Freedom Run: The Torch Song from Doordarshan

Back in the turbulent '80s when air travel was still out of reach of common people due to what was called as an unliberalized economy, Indians were reminded of their great country's length, breadth, unity in diversity and diversity in unity by government commissioned songs to be played on national television, religiously. These songs having jazzy catchy tunes, visuals magnanimous - with famous personalities having different hues, castes and states of origin - were like magical harps played out to put some nasty beast to sleep. Big beasts like Communalism and Regionalism. India was facing unrest bordering on chaos. When wasn't India facing utter chaos, right!

The first songs in the memorable series Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad by Lok Seva Sanchar Parishad was 1988 video song “Freedom Run” that most folks would remember as “The Torch Song” or "Torch of Freedom" (the actual name of the video). It was first telecast on Doordarshan on the day of Indian Independence - 15th August. The video was shot by Kailash Surendranath and produced by Aarti Surendranath for (both, now, of Kailash Picture Company) The next video in this series was Mile Su Mera Tumhara (the one with the stars from various fields. Music, again, by Louis Banks, lyrics by Piyush Pandey).

Unlike other integration Lok Seva songs that followed, Torch of Freedom song was an instrumental with a memorable tune created by famous Indian Jazz virtuoso Louis Banks, prolific creator of many memorable tunes that vary from the theme of the serial Byomkesh Bakshi to that of Jaspal Bhatti’s Flop Show to what was then known as “new tune” of DD news. This freedom song can be found in their album Freedom Songs.

1988 was an Olympic year, and (my guess is that) the video for this song was recorded keeping Olympic spirit in mind. The song featured many famous Indian sports personalities of the time and showed each one carrying a lit "freedom" torch that they passed on to the next sports person after a shot sprint (mostly in slo-mo) through varying locations. I remember Sunil Gavaskar coming out of a tunnel, all drenched in rain but with flame still burning. The rain wasn't planned. P.T. Usha running along with deers. Shot beautifully in a zoo using only two cameras and okayed in just one take. Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi running with her young daughter - little Soha Ali Khan. She wasn't supposed to be there. But she insisted on running along with her father. Two videos were shot, one with her and one without her. Finally, the one with her was left in the final video. The video also had other recognizable sporting stars like Kapil Dev, Prakash Padukone and Milkha Singh.

Rajiv Gandhi is the person credited with thinking up the need for these musical harps and commissioning the videos. Having lived in America, he wanted to bring in the American way of feeling pride in national identity. He wanted Indians to be proud of their one Indian Identity. And he wanted it all to be done apolitically. Hence the harps. You can well, call them Congress Harps. The reason being that the harps stopped playing as soon as the Congress lost the center of the nation. With coalition government, liberalization, and center with the Right, harps went out of fashion. Even became inadequate. Remember superstar ladden Pyar ki Ganga Bahe video that was born post Babri Masjid related riots and violence during Narasimha Rao time (he even commited the blunder of featuring in one). This was perhaps the last one. The harps had lost their charm. It was the end of an era that had started with an unpretentious video set to a simple instrument piece. Freedom.


finally the Update:
Edited this post with some more info., rant and yes, the video and the song ( a big thanks to the original uploader: kedargogate at youtube.)

Here is the video:
You can download the complete song here:

Torch of Freedom (1.20 Mb, .mp3, 2 min 27 Sec)


Thanks for hanging around and sending in those requests.

Jaya Jaya
Hey! Hey! Hey!


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Comeback, and its not just Nostalgia.
With Congress again in center - and India again going through certain pangs, beasts almost awakened - these peace video have made a comeback on various national channels. You can catch some of these videos late in the night on any one of these channels, particularly the satellite ones. And then there is also the revolutionary thing called Youtube.



A cover of the song by a band called KASP. They have done a great cover of the song.
Sample of their Freedom Run: The Torch Song from Doordarshan (.mp3 647kb)
Do listen to the complete version at their blog and also check out their other songs. Good fusion music!


Read a scanned up version on the Playback Magazine( Jan 7, 1988 issue) and go back to feel the music scene of late ‘80s. [update: that old issue is not online any more at the site. But here is the archived page using waybackmachine]

Soumyadip at Cutting The Chai has a nice collection (Including the Malgudi Days tune composed by Sharang Dev L. Vaidyanathan. Sharang Dev composed the music for the serial) of memorable Euphony from yesteryears. A commenter at his blog wanted the song, that’s what triggered this post.



  1. Great in depth info. Louis Banks will also remain known for his iconic tone
    Ting Ting Ti-Ting

    Though I missed posting the Bharat Ek Khoj track on the aforementioned post, but I already had it here (It also included links to it's both versions as well as the lyrics).

  2. You really are the torchbearer here :)

  3. Hi ,
    The tune for "THe malgudi Days" was composed by Late L.Vaidyanathan

  4. Hi Sanath,
    Thanks for pointing that L.Vaidyanathan was the composer of the famous tune. I misread an article published in Playback Magazine( mentioned in the post above).

  5. It seems that the real inspiration for the music composed by Louis Banks was
    Chariots of Fire by Vangelis.

  6. any idea from where i can download the video of Torch of Freedom by Loius Banks ,

    any one havin any idea can pls send me the url of the site or the video to my mail id

  7. Vinay,
    I have been looking for that video too. No luck yet!
    Will update if I find it.

  8. where can i get VIDEO of this song....

    please tell me

  9. I don't have the video...but I managed to get some screen caps and some more info. about the song from a newspaper article. Will update this post soon.

  10. can I get the full mp3 version of this song?

  11. The Benevolent Autocrat, Anonies and everyone else:
    The wait is over. A nice person finally uploaded the video. You have it all here now. I have updated the post. Now you have the video and the song. Have fun! And thanks for hanging around!

  12. wow.. this is awesome..i have been searching for this video for a very long time..i seem to have forgotten a few bits here and there.. It is going on my blog all credit goes to the 8ate creator and the uploader..

  13. Thanks a tonne man
    Great job done
    keep it up........

  14. Fantastic collection, fills me with nostalgia. A few more requests:
    1. The song, "Ek Titli, Anek Titlian"
    2. The old washing powder ad. They were changing the name from Tinopal to Ranipal and they would play it ad nauseum: "Tinopal Tinopal, Ranipal Ranipal"
    3. The old Konica ad: "Katak!"
    4. The old annoying Vicco Vajradanti ad. So irritating.. that everyone remembered the product :-) .

  15. The PT Usha segment was shot at IIT Madras where the deer roam free.

  16. thanks a lot vinayak.... great and awesome collections... i love this. remembered old memories of my childhood....

  17. who ever composed this is an absolute genius .100 times better than the current shit music composers's
    Doordarshan National (DD1) for making childhood awesome

  18. Gratitude. .My childhood fantasy came true tonight.

  19. Ignore all thats abusive.
    You are helping us relive Our Childhood Dreams. God Bless You!

  20. 'Torch of Freedom' first ran on television in 1985, not 1988. It was the year of 'Mile Sur Mera Tumhara'.


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