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Music no longer the food of love

world Updated: Mar 31, 2010 00:17 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis

Last week singer Akon was banned from performing in Sri Lanka because of one of his music videos was found offensive to Buddhism.

Sexy Bitch show women in bikinis dancing around a Buddha statute. The clergy found it blasphemous that the same singer would perform in Sri Lanka, where Buddhism is the dominant religion.

Anti-Akon groups sprung up on Facebook.

One such group currently has some 17,000 members.

Every government has the right to decide who comes into the country.

Artists have been banned from performing in many countries for many reasons; hurting religious sentiments would probably top the list.

It’s of course a separate issue that you might deny the singer an entry but not his songs — most karaoke bars and pubs in Colombo blast Akon’s sticky and syrupy songs during frenzied nights.

At private parties too, the DJs come equipped with his music. Beautiful Girl’ is one popular number.

But what I found to be really ugly in this case was how the Akon-controversy was seized by a violent group to target a private broadcaster, a part-sponsor of the April concert.

The office of Sirasa and Maharaja Television was attacked with bricks and stones on a bright, sunny day with policemen mostly keeping a safe distance.

Windows were smashed, cars were wrecked, few employees had to be hospitalised. But the police remained particularly mild on the protestors.

A bunch of them were arrested but let off after what seemed like a breather.

The malignity here — to borrow a phrase from TS Eliot — didn’t seem motiveless.

In January, 2009, the group’s studio and transmission centre was ransacked and bombed.

It is widely believed that a particular minister — with a history of violence against the media — was behind the latest attack.

Government spokespersons denied any involvement though circumstantial evidence again pointed to him.

An investigation has been launched but with this government’s known apathy towards independent journalism, little is likely to come out of it.