It was loud and clear — the way misogyny made its way into mainstream music with his sexist songs. Rapper Honey Singh may have nothing to do with the brutal rape of the 23-year-old Delhi girl, but his lyrics laced with profanities and songs replete with sexual innuendos virtually glorified a morbid mindset that we are crying foul about now.
No party – from family functions to college jam sessions to nightclubs — in Punjab and most part of North India is complete without the Hip Hop ‘star’s’ blaring brazenness that smacks of feudal masculine pride.
Some of the lines from one of his hit songs ‘Brown Rang’ from the album International Villager go: Gori gori kudiyan nu koi munh laave na (no one’s paying attention to fair-skinned girls anymore). Maade purje nu kade hath main na paawan/Vaise taan mitran da bahut vadda score but white chicks na I don’t like them anymore, bann mitran di whore (I never touch anything sub-standard/by the way, I’ve scored many times, but only with white chicks/I don’t like them anymore, come be my whore).
This is only one example (and far less obscene than many of his other songs).
Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap, who presented Honey Singh’s single Satan, is supporting the rapper with his tweets. “that song is by a Pakistani band called ZEEST .. Look clearly not blindly..we just read headlines and look at pictures. Look (sic),” Kashyap wrote saying that the ‘Balatkari’ song is not Honey Singh’s. “The country would like to believe that Honey Singh is the reason why rapes take place. then let me raise my hand too. I did x rated Eatyachar,” he tweeted in response to another comment. Dinesh Auluck, the director of Speed Records, which released International Villager, denies that the singer’s new year’s eve show in Gurgaon was ‘banned’. He says, “It was Honey’s own decision to not perform. It cannot be called a ban.” Auluck thinks there is nothing wrong with Honey Singh songs. “He is only mirroring our youth through his rap. Take a look at Delhi, and you will realise the number of girls taking drugs.”
Punjabi singer Jazzy B, whose collaboration with Honey Singh — ‘This Party Getting Hot — has reportedly garnered one million hits in 80 hours, says, “He’s not doing anything wrong, especially when I see girls enjoying songs such as Dope Shope at his concerts. In India, we are in a habit of passing the buck. However in my single with him there is nothing demeaning about girls.”
On why a singer of his individual standing had to collaborate with Honey Singh, he says, “We were working on this song for the past three years. Music is all about getting together and bringing new elements.”
Upcoming singer Balli Riar, who debuted with album Never Done Before with Honey Singh, says, “Relating the Delhi gang rape case with songs does not make sense. Let’s not forget that he has made Punjabi songs a rage in India and abroad.”
Why target women?
But Chandigarh girl Meghna Kapoor, 22, who is doing a master’s course from Amity College in Delhi, says, “Though I am a party animal, the one thing that disturbs me is that clubs play songs that objectify women, and then men look at us like commodities. It’s shameful that women are treated as ‘items’ in songs while they are making serious contribution to the society with jobs in different fields.” Here Gagandeep Brar, 24, a student of department of women studies at Punjabi University, Patiala, chips in, “Popular songs impact the way a society thinks. These songs are not just played back to back on TV channels but are also heard in cars, at parties, restaurants, dhabas, shops, malls… What is more disturbing about the trend is that we are getting used to listening and accepting such lyrics.”
Here Surbhi Sehgal, a student at Panjab University, Chandigarh, says, “Honey Singh songs demean a woman to the extent of calling her a ‘whore’. His double-meaning songs encourage boys to behave indecently. I want Honey Singh and the singers who are trying to emulate him to dedicate such songs to their sisters and mothers.”
Menacing mainstream trend
Adarsh Kohli, professor of clinical psychology at PGI, says, “Women being the weaker section have always been targeted not only in songs but also in other areas such as advertisements. When it comes to men, we usually talk about guns and violence, and when we talk about women, physical appearance is talked about. Such songs do have a negative impact but the present generation is not bothered about it. Youngsters seem to be enjoying and accepting the lewd language. Such songs not only give wrong ideas but also incite people.”
Pankaj Sharma, member of Central Board of Film Certification, says, “Most Punjabi songs neither take certification from the board nor the TV channels ask singers for a certificate, which comes in three categories: U, A and U/A. Songs with ‘A’ certificate are not meant to be telecast on TV, but they still are. When there are so many satellite channels the board cannot keep a check on everything. We can only verify if things come to our notice. We even learnt that some singers procure duplicate certificates.”
Manjeet Singh, sociologist at PU, says, “In the name of pop culture, many Punjabi singers are promoting nothing except vulgarity. Why only Punjabi songs, Hindi songs such Sheila Ki Jawaani, Munni Badnam are doing the same thing. Music companies and singers are only interested in making money by selling such songs.”