Songs. Well, songs, I believe, are expressions of one’s feelings, emotions, desires, ideas, passions, aspirations and ambitions. These are synchronised rhythmic strings of words or tunes that enable people to express themselves, as they are able to identify and relate to them.
Language is no bar in songs. Even if people are not able to understand the lyrics, iy doesn’t mean that they aren’t able to understand and feel the song.
Songs have their own subtle channel of communication through which they touch people’s hearts and evoke emotions and feelings expressed in them. Just like the song “Vaishnav Jana To Tene Kahiye Je, Peer Paraai Jaane Re” – a Gujarati Bhajan, the meaning of which many people aren’t able to decipher but are still able to connect to because they can feel and imbibe the emotions expressed in the words. Thus, songs require no medium of language as they are self-sufficient in reaching out to the people.
Songs also act as a mirror for the society. They are the reflection of shared beliefs, cultures, values, emotions, experiences, norms, desires, needs, plights and hardships.
For instance, the songs from village communities in Punjab reflect their socio-economic conditions. Their prayers to God for food, water and good health, also reflect their fears, desires and reverence.
The songs they sing when they are celebrating something, reflect their happiness, joy and elation (e.g. – Lok Geet sung at the occasion of Baisakhi). Songs have thus become a medium to understand the history, moral values, politics and social change of a society at a particular point in time.
Songs have also been a medium to bring about social change by attempting to shape attitudes, behaviours and mindsets of the people in the society.
The revolutionary poem ‘Sarfaroshi Ki Tamanna’ played a key role in getting people to be a part (the youth, to be specific) of the nationalist movement by evoking feelings of nationalism in them. This happened because people were able to see and understand the poem and it reflected how they felt. The song was a source of inspiration for all those who fought the British and freed the country. A poem that inspired the youth to take revolutionary and audacious steps even though it meant giving up their lives.
This attitude-changing power and strength of the songs are the same reasons why a fatwa was issued in Jammu and Kashmir, in 2013, to ban an all-female band of three ‘Pragaash,’ as their songs were about girls being able to express freely, about their uplifted and empowered position in the society.
But today, I suppose that the notion of making and listening to songs is changing for many. Today songs are nothing more than products that are up for consumption by the so-called rational and smart masses, who perform this bilateral activity with absolute commitment.
It reflects the loss of the ability to judge various subtleties in the songs. This is the reason why people like ‘Yo Yo Honey Singh’ have become ‘youth icons’ even after singing songs like “Chaar Botal Vodka,” “Desi Looks,” “Paani Wala Dance“ that are misogynous, indecent and indecorous in nature.
Songs that objectify women and portray them as sexual objects with the objective of titillating men. Songs that make men believe that women just want to seek their attention and whatever they do is for them, and thus they think that they have the inherent right to control them in whatever way they desire.
It is, however, important and requisite to note in this regard that it is not only the men who accept and appreciate these songs but also the women who very readily, credulously and without any scepticism accept these songs even when it is them who are being portrayed in an objectionable form like that. This thus creates a market where a vicious cycle of amoral producers who produce what they feel is profitable as buyers are oblivious enough not to question the supply, and consume whatever is being served to them.
That is something that gives a further incentive to the sellers to produce something which the consumers will naturally and more readily accept. This also further increases the demand from the buyers for such items, as none of them are sceptic enough to question and break the cycle.
As for the sellers, it will result in the reduction of profit and for buyers, it will result in alienation from their group.
I wonder in this regard that, what happens to the politicians, who are ever so keen on passing remarks on what women wear, on their lifestyle when it comes to the question of rape and women’s safety, why are they so silent and passive when it comes these misogynous and impolite songs?
Why don’t they oppose item numbers like “Sheela Ki Jawani“, “Munni Badnaam Hui” and “Kundi Mat Khadkao” and the lyrics that portray the same women in a bad light?
Why do, then, they and the society as a whole, let these songs become a source of entertainment and part of their celebrations even when they reflect a bad image of the society itself?
The answer to it is just the convenience that the society gets, in putting the same women in dual statures, wherein they can’t see their own girls and women at that place but can very conveniently and joyously see other girls at the same place and enjoy it. This is nothing but sheer hypocrisy.
Songs are also a medium to know the history of the people of a particular time. They define the identity and solidarity of a group. In this regard, I wonder, what will the next generation think of us? If they will be left at all with the rationality to think, about the kind of culture they have inherited from us when they listen to our songs to know the people our times?
What will they think about the hypocrisy of their forefathers? Will they be ashamed? Also, does the onus and responsibility amount only towards posterity, and not to our forefathers from whom we have inherited this culture?
Well, the answers to all these questions lie within our own selves. It’s not too late even now. If we act as rational, vigilant, informed and sceptic citizens we can very well eliminate this evil from our society.
The society that emphasises on respecting everybody. We should make and follow not only those songs but also mannerisms, ideas and practices that further strengthen the values of our society and help us in producing a generation of citizens we can be proud of.