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Posted at: Mar 17, 2016, 12:48 AM; last updated: Mar 17, 2016, 12:48 AM (IST)

No glory in goli

The recent tweets by cricketer Harbhajan Singh criticising Punjabi songs for promoting violence has spawned a debate. So, is it time to do something about it? Singers from the region share their take

Amarjot Kaur

It’s time to address to a peculiar form of ‘cult’ that has conveniently, almost thoughtlessly, been added to the formula of a ‘hit’ Punjabi song these days. What started off as Punjabi folk music with tappe, mahia and dhola, popularised by artistes like Surinder Kaur, Ranjit Kaur, and Parkash Kaur during the 50s, has now become a commercial business, much of which glorifies aggression and use of weapons (guns and gandaase). In the backdrop of an incident that transpired in Gurdaspur recently, where a 35-year-old woman was shot dead at a wedding when she resisted two youths, who eve-teased her, Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh tweeted posts that criticised Punjabi songs for promoting violence.

There are several other instances where the gun culture of Punjab, propagated mainly through songs, has given way to crime, especially by the youth. Recounting another such incident where gangster Sukha Kahlwan was shot dead on the national highway in police custody by an enemy gang last year, Daljit Ami, Punjabi documentary filmmaker, who is currently pursuing Cinema Studies at JNU, shares, “As many as 20 bullets were fired at him. Police kept watching. Gangsters took away weapons of the cops and dropped them on their way. They also performed bhangra on Punjabi songs around Sukha’s dead body. You may search for ‘Sukha Kahlwan songs’ on YouTube to understand the seriousness of it.”

In the absence of a regulatory body, Punjabi music industry thrives literally on the ideology of singers that bring maximum ‘likes’ on YouTube and money for record labels. Though Ami believes that the intentions of singers don’t quite matter as much as the interpretation of listeners does, he says, “The youth of Punjab is restless and indirect reference to violence gives their restlessness a sense of refuge in violence.” Surjit Patar, former president of Punjab Sahitya Akademi, writer and poet, shares, “These songs are the symptoms of a boiling aggression in Punjab on the whole. It’s about time singers take responsibility for the content of their songs.” Previously, The Istri Jagriti Manch (IJM) held a series of demonstrations with hundreds of women protesting against what they call objectionable songs.

Fire alarm

Though some of the first references made to weapons were in Chamkila’s songs, Babbu Maan took to popularising the culture with songs like Chak lo revolver (pick up your revolvers) and Mitraan Nu Shaunk Hathyaaran Da (we are fond of weapons). No sooner, Honey Singh teamed up with Diljit Dosanjh to sing Mitran Nu Shauk Golian Chalan Da (we are fond of firing from our guns) and equating the supposed Punjabi machismo with violence and guns, many other singers followed suit. For instance, the recent song, Pistol, by Lokesh Bhati and Honey Singh; Jimmy Wraich’s 2015 song Gun Load Pai Ae Yaara, Je Lod Pai Tah Vartaangay (the gun’s already loaded, we’ll use it if the time comes), Navraj Hans’s 32 Bore and Gunday Vs Gundayn by Gopi Sandhu. Also, Dilpreet Dhillon sings most of his songs on weapons, including 32 Bore Da, Kartoos and the recently released, Gulab.

Bhajji speak

Harbhajan Singh @harbhajan_singh Mar 4 

Such a sad news..aggressive songs about fight 4 land,guns at weddings,functions,showoff. #jaatfirekarda such a shame

Harbhajan Singh @harbhajan_singh Mar 5 

Who wil bring her mother back?Due 2 sm nonsense people we r ashamed 2 b punjabi.this is not our culture #savepunjab

Harbhajan Singh @harbhajan_singh Mar 5 

Goli chalane ka itna shonk hai then join army protect our people rather then killing our own people.. #savepunjab

Harbhajan Singh @harbhajan_singh Mar 5 

Harbhajan Singh Retweeted Vinesh Kataria

Govt need to take strict actions for such incidents..why giving gun licence to everyone. 

So to speak

"I do sing about guns, but I don’t ask people to pick up weapons and start shooting. I like action, and even movies have action sequences, so would you blame the movies too? My intention is not to promote weapons." Dilpreet Dhillon, Singer 

"I feel singers must be a little responsible with the content of songs they make. Each time I perform songs that even have the word gun in it, I warn people about the repercussions" Deep Dhillon, Singer

"When you have big names in the industry singing songs like Banda Bunda Marna Hut Eh Dassi and Goliyaan, who don’t even need these kind of songs to get famous, what can you say about the strugglers? It is singers’ responsibility to choose the subjects of their songs wisely" Sukhwinder Sukhi, Singer 

"Gun culture is a matter of huge concern in Punjab. Switch on any Punjabi channel for fifteen minutes and you’ll hear or see something about violence and aggression. People in Punjab look up to singers, even to the extent of emulating them, which as far as gun culture goes, can be worrisome." Shamsher Singh Sandhu, Lyricist


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