It had already been an incredible night of music and collaboration between an Indian musical superstar, A.R. Rahman, and the biggest British rock band on earth, Coldplay.

But then Rahman and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin stunned the crowd with an acoustic duet that no one expected.

“Vande Mataram,” Martin sang, as Rahman held the mic.

“Vande Mataram,” Rahman joined in.

Read More: Coldplay, Jay Z, and A.R. Rahman Rock Global Citizen Festival to Bring $5.93B of Change to India

Seventy thousand fans that filled Mumbai’s exhibition grounds for the first-ever Global Citizen India Festival went wild, belting out the words to “Vande Mataram,” the traditional Indian patriotic hymn based on an 1882 poem.

The title of the song translates to “I bow to thee, Mother,” and is a tribute to the motherland of India. When India gained its independence from the United Kingdom, the lyrics of “Vande Mataram” became a national song.

And so when a British and an Indian rock star joined together to sing the hymn with India’s next generation of leaders on Saturday night, the moment felt revelatory.

Martin also sang the Bollywood hit “Chenna Mereya” to the the Mumbai crowd and spoke to them in Hindi earlier in the night, saying, “We are fortunate that we have come to such a beautiful country.”

Read More: Chris Martin, Sachin Tendulkar Make Surprise Visit to Mumbai School

Coldplay played for an hour-and-a-half to cap off the Global Citizen India Festival, belting out all of its biggest hits to a crowd that sang every word along with the band, from “Yellow” to “The Scientist” to “Fix You” and “Paradise.”

Throughout the day, performances from Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Jay-Z, Demi Lovato, and Ranveer Singh lit up the crowd as leaders from across India and the world answered Global Citizens’ calls to commit to real, concrete change in the world.

And the focus throughout from all the leaders at the GCIF was on the power of the youth to make a brighter future.


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Coldplay & AR Rahman Perform 'Vande Mataram' to Close Festival

By Colleen Curry