‘A Soldier Returns’ — Empire Diaries Anthem Bags Top Award

Anti-war anthem 'A Soldier Returns' clinched the Best Music Video award at the 2023 Global Independent Film Festival of India (GIFFI).


December 2, 2023: Guess what’s making waves in the protest music scene these days? Anti-war anthem A Soldier Returns, presented by news production platform Empire Diaries, sung by Indian singer Asif, and produced-directed by Ratna, has clinched the Best Music Video (India) Award at the 3rd Global Independent Film Festival of India (GIFFI). It’s the protest song’s second trophy this year in the music video category.

The GIFFI awards ceremony took place in Kolkata on December 1, 2023. A Soldier Returns was released on March 20 this year, and has grabbed eyeballs since then. The song’s instrumentation includes Spanish guitar and harmonica, both played by Asif. Chinangshuk Chandra’s classy video editing expertise and Debdeep Banik’s sound mixing skills helped turn A Soldier Returns into a two-time award-winner.

In April, the artwork bagged the Honourable Mention Award in the Best Music Video category at the Rohip International Film Festival (RIFF), hosted in Chennai.

A Soldier Returns
Poster for ‘A Soldier Returns’.

It’s not a run-of-the-mill protest anthem. A Soldier Returns is a timeless tribute to millions of Iraqi civilians who lost their lives and were maimed over the last two decades since American and British military forces wrongfully invaded Iraq to oust the legitimate Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein from power.

The infamous invasion of Iraq by forces from the Anglo-American West has sparked numerous anti-war protests and demonstrations around the world during the last 20 years.

It’s not just GIFFI and audiences who are singing praises. Even Stella Assange, a prominent lawyer and wife of renowned journalist-whistleblower Julian Assange, gave it a shoutout on social media. In a post on X (formerly Twitter), she called it a “moving video dedicated to the victims” of the Iraq invasion.

Firebrand journalist Julian Assange is currently jailed in London’s Belmarsh prison for rightfully exposing US-led war crimes in Iraq on his revolutionary whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. The US government is lobbying hard to get the whistleblower-editor extradited to America for what is expected to be a vindictive trial.

Now, let’s talk about the lyrics. A Soldier Returns, penned by Nadim Siraj, takes you on a journey through the eyes of a combat soldier who is haunted by the aftermath of the gruesome invasion of Iraq. The protagonist narrates his experiences as an invading trooper, and laments playing a role in the carnage.

The team that created ‘A Soldier Returns’: (Clockwise from left) Producer-director Ratna, singer-composer Asif, sound mixer Debdeep Banik, lyricist Nadim Siraj, and editor Chinangshuk Chandra (Empire Diaries).

The 5-minute music video throws in chilling visuals from the Iraq invasion. Another standout element: Asif’s performance in outdoor and studio settings is preceded by snippets of then US president George W. Bush and then British PM Tony Blair making history-shaping announcements of the unpopular invasion.

You’ve also got Julian Assange and Stella Assange making emotional appearances towards the start of the music video; plus a cameo by Mike Prysner, a US-based Iraq war vet, who is seen getting ejected out of a talk show for throwing tough questions at George W. Bush about his dirty role in the Iraq invasion.

All rights to this content are reserved with Empire Diaries. If you want to republish this content in any form, in part or in full, please contact us at writetoempirediaries@gmail.com.


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