“Daaru diye daaru diye band bottlee
Ni tenu peenge naseeban vaale”
(O closed bottle of alcohol,
The people of good destinies would drink you)
This is what one of my classmates was singing during the recess. I asked him, “Is this a real song?,” to which he replied, “Obviously.” I was stunned. When I returned home, I listened to the complete song and came across many others with similar, horrendous lyrics.
It was mortifying when I myself began enjoying these songs. Their beats boosted my mood, and within minutes, the tiredness from school washed off me and I was in high spirits. I spent hours listening to the songs, which I had started hating a couple of years ago. Maybe it was because of the music, or because they were in my mother tongue — which go straight to your heart, no matter how much you’re against the ideas propelled in these songs.
I thought for a long time about the words in the songs, and what they meant to people or what people could derive from them. The songs focused on a narrow lane that included glorifying alcoholics, violence or both combined, justified in the name of heartbreak. What most of the songs had in common was that either a line from the song or, in some cases, the whole song was demeaning women in one way or another.
And those were the lines my peers used when fighting with girls, because they made it seem like the female is always irritating, annoyingly demanding and money-minded. What these songs praised in women were their physical characteristics, which were their tallness, skin tone (fair with flushed cheeks) and a thin waist, among many others.
A typical argument in favour of this practice would be “These are just songs.” But these songs are what 90% of Punjabi youths consume day and night, in audio or video form. One of my teachers used to say what you put in your brain is what will come out of your mouth. You can’t put in swear words in your brain and expect praise to come out.
Just like this, when people listen to such ideas, they happen to view every incident in the same light. A guy in a bad relationship would believe that it is in the woman’s nature to be treacherous, and the only way out of the pain is to not get attached to them, and think of them as objects.
One of the songs even says, “Yaro aundian hi rehnia kudiyan te bussan (Girls and buses will keep coming your way, pals).” Kids who grow up seeing the use of weapons, drugs and alcohol in the videos of the same songs might end up generalising this notion in society, making burglars, instead of learned men, their role models.
Even after facing a lot of backlash and banning the movie Shooter, which glorified a criminal on record, the plight of the songs remains the same. The artists exclaim that the production is associated with the demand and and leanings of the viewers, while the viewers call out the producers of the bad content, saying they watch what is produced by them due to the absence of a source of decent entertainment. While this blame game continues, it’s the future of Punjab, one of the most prosperous and important agrarian state of India, which is at stake.
Will the prosperity outlive this culture of violence and drug abuse? Will the youth of Punjab embrace its culture of lovingness and hard work again? A wise man once said, “Music that the youth of a nation listens to is a reflection of their future.” And going by this, Punjab’s future seems to be scary.