Over the last couple of decades, lyricists in Punjab have seemingly run out of ideas on how to pen new songs and it seems that there is an unsaid race between them regarding who can come up with the most vulgarity laden or violence-laden songs.Songs like ‘Chak lo revolver, riflaan ki kabza lena hai,” “Koi banda bunda maarna hai taan das,’ and ‘Mitran nu shauk golian chalan da’ glorify gun-culture and violence and are being enjoyed by both children and grown-ups alike and while some numbers whose videos have been age-restricted by YouTube, they are still finding their way into the hands, or rather ears, of children, courtesy the fondness of families to purchase the latest smartphones for their children.Styled after the Gangsta rap genre, reflecting the violent lifestyles of African-American youth, singer Honey Singh’s music cleverly fuses rhythm and melody, which accounts for the popularity of his songs. But the explicit lyrics that leave nothing to imagination have come as a shock to many. Equating the supposed Punjabi machismo with violence and guns many other popular singers have followed suit. Songs like ‘Jatt di dushmani sir mangdi, “Je mukar gayee taan pehli goli tere maraange,’ and ‘Vich Pajero de rakhli desi gunn’ are threat-laden to the fairer sex. Similarly, the macho glamour associated with guns and swanky cars has even a popular female singer, singing, ‘Vaili ban mitra bade darave jar lae.’Not only violence, but drug abuse, which Punjab has struggled with over the past decade, also finds mention in popular Punjabi songs like ‘Soota la ke son gaya’ and ‘Daaru vi chari rakhan da chaska e yaaran nu’ and the infamous ‘Chitta ve’ from ‘Udta Punjab.Albeit a tad too late, a welcome step may be one which has been taken by Punjab government as it announced this past week that they would form a Cultural Commission to look into whether a song which is to be released is in keeping with Punjabi culture. The Commission will have power to register an FIR against anyone, who will violate the rules, set up by the Commission. The Commission will also have the power to take suo-motu notice of any released songs. Therefore, in another words, now the state government will effectively decide which songs should be sung or not. While there is definitely a serious need on part of the powers-that-be to have a more stringent system to censor, re-word and outrightly ban the release of such songs, however, when you delve into the nittygrittys of the goings-on behind the scenes before songs are released, any censorship imposed on songwriters poses a serious threat to their creative thinking.It also begs another question which needs an answer: Why have songs depicting the lifestyles of gangsters, drunkards, drug-addicts and women-beaters gained more popularity in Punjab over the last few years than those songs which speak of innocence of love, of family values and of patriotism? Some may oppose this view saying that lovey-dovey sings are just as popular as the ‘maar-kutt’ ones, but why have the songwriters become so much bereft of ideas that violence has become the sure-fire way to success for them?Therefore, what is absolutely needed is a systematic inculcation of noble values in children from their school years, that of placing family ties and friendship before their own needs and wants and of giving due respect to their motherland. What is needed is the prioritisation of values and only then, will this breakdown of Punjabi culture stem.
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