It’s an old and vociferous debate in India – popular culture such as films, songs, particularly item songs are held responsible for encouraging misogyny, of objectifying and dehumanising women, cementing degrading gender stereotypes and more. So when Yo Yo Honey Singh chants lyrics such as these (these are lyrics that are we know are his, he has disowned the other truly appalling songs that were attributed to him)–
Blue eyes, hypnotize teri kardi ai mennu
I swear! Choti dress mein bomb lagdi mainu (Blue Eyes)
Excuse me Miss, kis kis kis kiss se tu bhaagi gi
Hun bach bach ke, tenu rab ne husn ditta rajj rajj ke (Brown Rang)
Dhoyegi tu kachche,
Aur gande bartann (Break Up Party)
Aati Honda mein, Audi mein jati tu khisak
Suck.. suck.. Baby What the F*** (Saturday Saturday from – Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania)
Are these lyrics doing the same insidious damage as the lyrics of Jay Z and Beyonce that spoken word poet Madiha Bhatti claims are doing? Khalil Gibran may have claimed that music is the language of the spirit. But Bhatti raises a valid question when she questions the content of these songs: the words, the language, the tone of this mu(sick)….
The words came fast and disappeared
They were drowned out by the music …
The beats are the noise behind which singers hide
As they beat a woman up inside….
….Can we turn up the volume but turn down the noise?
Stop polluting the minds of our men and our boys?
She makes a good point, but there are valid arguments on the other side as well – if you don’t like the music, turn it off. After all it is impossible to legislate bad taste and everything is offensive to someone or the other.
But ultimately in this grisly debate I have to reiterate what I have said before: while artists (and artistes) should be free to make any depiction – we are a free country – the fact is that the Indian man is just not mature and evolved enough to view, say a nude painting or an item song purely as art or entertainment. The fact is that children are impressionable, the fact is that people in the media wield power and influence.
Is it too much to ask that that formidable power and influence be wielded responsibly?
By – Reena Daruwalla
Images and Video courtesy – Madiha Bhatti