iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Serena Menon, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, January 04, 2013
Nothing makes for better PR than a ban on something controversial. The year 2012 began by giving a certain police officer from Mumbai a lot of publicity. 2013 too started on a similar note. This time, the drive has been directed at a Punjabi rapper, whose real name may or may not be Yo Yo Honey Singh.

Days before he was to perform at a hotel in Gurgaon on New Year’s Eve, an IPS officer reportedly filed an FIR against him as he found the lyrics of his songs offensive. Then an online petition to ‘stop Honey Singh’s performance’ emerged. It said: “Let’s put a stop to these subversive lyrics that infiltrate the minds of people who don’t know better… (sic).” Why we shouldn’t just teach these ‘minds’ how to fish themselves instead of serving them rawas on a platter, I have no idea.

The petition enlists the lyrics of a song called ‘C***t volume 1’, which I recently discovered was not meant for public consumption, and therefore was never officially launched. In 2006, it had gone viral. Then it was forgotten about like all crass entertainment is.

The petition got over 2,600 supporters. Most of these people could have lived their lives not having been subjected to this music. But because nothing bothers us more than not knowing the news, we all logged on to YouTube, heard every word and collectively cringed “for general knowledge’s sake”.

Like Sylvester Stallone, who did some soft porn when he was a struggler, Yo Yo insulted his audience’s sensibilities to get some attention. Sure. In defence, Yo Yo also tweeted, “...I’ve admitted that my past was a wrong choice but now I deliver completely different music! (sic)” He even insisted that he didn’t write those lyrics.

But who wins?
The B-grade Punjabi filmmakers probably queuing up outside Yo Yo’s house are waiting to book his services, not beat him up. Party planners are right behind them. And while the rapper’s competition is wondering how to beat this stunt, his managers must be celebrating.

Whether he should or shouldn’t be booked for obscenity and jailed for a few years for writing terrible lyrics, only the waste of the court’s time will tell. For now, if his music is getting on your nerves, one option would be to just turn it off. As much as everyone would like it to be, the solution isn’t as simple and doesn’t lie in banning a man or his work. Didn’t the cartoonist Aseem Trivedi’s case teach us anything?