MusicReleased in August 1997 to commemorate 50 years of Indian independence, the album became a bestseller in no time.Sowmya RajendranIt’s been over 20 years since music composer Ar Rahman released his album Vande Mataram. However, every Independence Day or Republic Day sees TV channels, radio stations and programmes in educational institutions across the country still playing songs from the album as a mark of celebration. At the time, Rahman, who had just turned 30, still had his flamboyant hairstyle and it had been only five years since he'd blazed into the national music scene with Roja. The idea of making a patriotic album reportedly came from his school friend Bharat Bala, an ad filmmaker who is the son of a freedom fighter. 1997 was also the year that Sony Music entered the Indian market and sought to promote local artistes internationally. Ar Rahman was the first artiste they signed for a three album contract.