Bad Rap | Opinion | Times Crest
Popular on Times Crest
  • In This Section
  • Entire Website
  • The Imphal Taliban
    July 13, 2013
    Manipur's police force have begun arresting young men for accessing sleazy content on their phones and in cyber cafes. Even the romantic SMS to…
  • Your say
    July 6, 2013
    From football to the love of books, your comments say it all.
  • Deflating victim Narendra Modi
    July 6, 2013
    With the CBI chargesheet in the Ishrat case, the carefully crafted Modi-versus-The Rest campaign has gone for a toss.
More in this Section
Profiles
Leaving tiger watching to raise rice Ecologist Debal Deb, who did his post-doctoral research from IISc in…
The crorepati writer He's the man who gives Big B his lines. RD Tailang, the writer of KBC.
Chennai-Toronto express Review Raja is a Canadian enthusiast whose quirky video reviews of Tamil…
Don't parrot, perform Maestro Buddhadev Dasgupta will hold a masterclass on ragas.
A man's man Shivananda Khan spent his life speaking up for men who have sex with men.
Bhowmick and the first family of Indian football At first glance, it would be the craziest set-up in professional football.
From Times Blogs
The end of Detroit
Jobs in Detroit's car factories are moving to India.
Chidanand Rajghatta
How I love the word ‘dobaara’...
Can ‘bindaas’ or ‘jhakaas’ survive transliteration?
Shobhaa De
Anand marte nahin...
India's first superstar died almost a lonely life.
Robin Roy
Honey Singh's verbal onslaught

Bad Rap

|



As the Yo! Yo! Honey Singh controversy shows, artists cannot shrug away all moral censure as illiberal.

If questions are the only thing that matter in these interesting Twitter/Facebook times that we live in, shouldn't we, then, at least be asking the right ones? In the wake of the controversy surrounding the misogynist content of rapper Yo! Yo! Honey Singh's songs, and his overzealous defence - in the name of being liberal - by fellow artists, most of us have seemed to look away from the real questions that need to be answered. For one, what is the root of the blatant misogyny that finds its way into the works of contemporary Indian artists?

To say that all art is a product of its environment wouldn't be totally incorrect, and there could be a great deal of truth in the fact that someone like Singh could be inspired by what's happening around him. After all, crimes against women such as rape aren't uncommon in our society, sadly. But if one were to read the lyrics or hear songs like Ch** t and Main Hoon Balatkari, you'd need to have quite a hard shell indeed to withstand Honey Singh's verbal onslaught;and wonder just what kind of repression he has undergone in order to sing about what he sings. An artist's right to exist, the freedom of expression, and the established trappings of American rap music are some of the arguments made in Honey Singh's defence, but an instance like this leaves no room for argument really.

In a country like India, society may not perhaps inspire popular culture as successfully as popular culture inspires society;and it's minds like Honey Singh's from where misogyny enters our subconscious. Ch** t is an old song, and had it not been for social media many would still associate Singh only with his later work like Angrezi Beat from the film Cocktail.

Moreover, one of the most vocal sources of support for Honey Singh has been filmmaker Anurag Kashyap. His belief that Singh's Ch** t is a musical expression of a boy's rejection demeans the very existence of women. His argument that such crassness has 'an equal right to exist' betrays a very limited understanding of free speech and artistic expression. Kashyap also said that the manner in which some people went after Singh hurt him enough to remind him of the time when similar lynch mobs brayed for his blood when he made his first film, Paanch. The fact that Kashyap would relegate his most personal work, in spite of its limitations, to the level of Singh's song is sad enough, but it makes you want to question the filmmaker too. Especially since his antecedents in this regard are also in question. Consider how in Paanch, Kashyap argued against the Censor Board that his depiction of a character's - played by Tejaswini Kolhapure - cohabitation with four criminals did not make for the promotion of loose morals. The board disagreed and banned the film.

There's also one misconception about the Honey Singh imbroglio. The outcry surrounding Ch** t and Main Hoon Balatkari wasn't about banning the artist, it was a call for him to somewhere acknowledge the error of his ways. It was to shame him, and for the better angels of his nature, if there are any left, to perhaps help him recalibrate his moral compass.

The influence that Bollywood and popular culture wields isn't hidden and when Singh, lauded as a 'youth icon' on many platforms, denies outright any involvement, it shows just how serious some artists are when it comes to being socially responsible in any way at all.

In an article he wrote for a national daily, Kashyap, too, denied 'knowing' the songs in question or even the artist before the controversy flared up. Yet the minor detail of Honey Singh singing a song in his production, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana, which released almost seven weeks before the hullabaloo began in November, remains a minor technicality. Or does it?

Honey Singh has denied any involvement on songs like Ch** t and Main Hoon Balatkari. While Anurag Kahsyap credits Pakistani band Zeest as the composers of Main Hoon Balatkari, the band has officially denied the same via an email to this writer. Yet Honey Singh washes his hands off the whole thing;Kashyap shrugs off the insidious nature of the content and they both take refuge in the freedom of artistic expression. There's something seriously wrong here.

Many have even suggested that countries like US suffer far more misogyny in art, but that's just half the argument. When Tiger Woods confessed to his sex addiction, top brands like Accenture and Nike ended their association with him. Moral censure is a necessary corrective that all free speech must be subjected to, especially when societies have to deal with the consequences of art inspiring grave crimes, like school shootings in the US, for instance.

As any moral philosopher will tell you, what freedom without limits? And while on the subject of asking the right questions, someone needs to ask Kashyap and Honey Singh just where do they think a 13-year-old boy even gets the idea of raping a woman?


The writer is a Delhi-based author and documentary filmmaker.

Other Times Group news sites
The Times of India | The Economic Times
इकनॉमिक टाइम्स | ઈકોનોમિક ટાઈમ્સ
Mumbai Mirror | Times Now
Indiatimes | नवभारत टाइम्स
महाराष्ट्र टाइम्स
Living and entertainment
Timescity | iDiva | Bollywood | Zoom
| Technoholik | MensXP.com

Networking

itimes | Dating & Chat | Email
Hot on the Web
Hotklix
Services
Book print ads | Online shopping | Business solutions | Book domains | Web hosting
Business email | Free SMS | Free email | Website design | CRM | Tenders | Remit
Cheap air tickets | Matrimonial | Ringtones | Astrology | Jobs | Property | Buy car
Online Deals
About us | Advertise with us | Terms of Use and Grievance Redressal Policy | Privacy policy | Feedback
Copyright© 2010 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd. All rights reserved. For reprint rights: Times Syndication Service