This election was all about stars and superstars. Different parties this year invited candidates not just form political or social background, but a series of actors, artists, athletes, cricketers and defence personnel went for elections. Bhojpuri singers are one of the most talked about among these celebrities. After Manoj Tiwari, the popular Bhojpuri singer and Ravi Kishan an actor also decided to enter the politics in this election. Ravi Kishan is contesting from Gorakhpur, Bhojpuri heartland and Manoj Tiwari is contesting from North East Delhi.
What is interesting to note that is how come Bhojpuri singers enter the politics? Is it a change of track for these artists to enter into politics from music? The answer is quite interesting.
Bhojpuri music industry is one of the emerging music industries in the country. With a huge traction of the industry in YouTube, the industry is driven by likes, subscribers and viewership.
There are more than 200 Bhojpuri music studios in Delhi that attract aspiring artists from Eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. These studios witness hundreds of footfall daily, majority of them teenagers, who share a common dream. According to D N Mishra, a producer of one of the Bhojpuri music studio in Delhi, most of the studios are concentrated in Ganesh Nagar, Laxmi Nagar and Dwarka.
In a bid to gain the maximum traction, the industry has experimented with genres like vulgarity, devotional, romantics, politics and belonging, genres like vulgarity and politics work the most.
When India attacked Pakistan recently in Balakot this year, the next day, Pushpak, a Bhojpuri singer had came up with a song to celebrate India’s move. The title of the song goes, “Sun Pakistani Saala”. More than the patriotism over the nations victory, it was more of the effort to sense the mood of the nation and come up with a popular song. Pushpak says, “This is a proud moment for me. My song is the first ever song on the attack, even before someone thinks of writing on the attack. I’m sure it will garner views”.
Similarly, when the government implemented its policies like GST or decided to demonetise the currency, the Bhojpuri music industry came up with songs to mark them. During elections too, songs are made for party campaigns, though the singer tries to dissociate themselves with a particular party. In short, Bhojpuri music is meant for every occasion.
While the digital space has democratised the Bhojpuri music industry, it often gets the singers into trouble. Praveen Samrat is a well-established singer who is now filming his first Bhojpuri movie. He had written a satirical song on Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Sonia Gandhi. “FIRs were filed and people were infuriated. The song got me into so much trouble that I abandoned it. Even if you ask me today, I will deny that I ever sang a single verse of that song,” he quips.
Praveen is one of the first singers to come with a political song in praise of Prime Minster Modi in this election season. With the popular slogan, “Mai bhi Cowkidaar” getting popularity among the masses, Praveen wrote a song, “Mera Balma Chowkidar Hai” (My beloved is a Chowkidaar).
The singers in the Bhojpuri music are generally aspiring downtown artists from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. While the mode of sustenance of these artists varies from small business to contractual labour, what unites these artists is the love for music. The tiny dingy studios in small pockets of Delhi are certainly not a place to rely on for a career, but sometimes it becomes a launch pad to stardom. Every aspiring artist in the bylanes of these studios sees themselves as Pawan Singh or Khesari Lal Yadav. Who knows one day they could become even Manoj Tiwari or Ravi Kishan.