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In an industry where cliches are formulaic and nomenclatures a powerhouse, Gurdass Mann has transcended the world of lesser mortals to become a singing phenomena in his own right. Enjoying a God-like status (illiterate Punjabi youth believe him to be the reincarnation of the Sufi Bulleh Shah), Mann’s newest single Punjab has dispatched the Punjabi social media into paroxysms of delight. But an undercurrent of dissent is accompanying Punjab’s success. Listeners are beginning to wonder why artists like Mann are only able to talk the talk but not walk the walk. In an era where mass societal awakening is precipitating great changes in the Punjabi psyche, Mann’s Punjab might influence radical changes but not of the type which listeners expect. Expectations were that Punjab would influence Punjabis to transform their Punjab into what it once was- a progressive and fiscally astute state. Speaking practically, though, Punjab has unwittingly become an unveiling of the decadent Punjabi music industry and is swiftly transforming into a yardstick to measure artistic hypocrisy with. Punjab commences with the vision of a bonhomie Punjab. A young Bhagat Singh (one of the few Punjabi patriots permitted in the national discourse but venerated on both sides of the border) has awakened and is preparing himself for his future: execution for armed rebellion against the British regime. Rope in hand, the young Bhagat encounters Mann en-route to an ideal execution spot. After a brief conversation, the young Bhagat accompanies Mann to the Punjab of today; a moral cesspit where the sacrifices of past forbears have been long forgotten. To augment his narrative, Mann has generated profuse lyrics and expressive tunes. But a feeling of hollowness cannot be shaken whilst watching the track. For those well-acquainted with the antics of the Punjabi media, it is hard to empathize with Mann’s narrative and herein lies the problem; singing about change does not wrought change nor does singing about perfectness invoke perfectness. By focusing on change alone, Mann omits any candid references to how Punjab was reduced to it’s present state. For a people who are famed for confronting obstacles head on, Mann’s Punjab emerges as a farce to many Punjabis. His stand would have been justified if he had elected to depict the causes of Punjab’s fall. What he has presented, though, is only a digression; a categorical denial of the how and, instead, a myopic focus on the what is. The visual panorama, accompanying the track, does it’s cause a grave injustice. The infamous case, last year, where a dancer was shot dead by an intoxicated wedding guest is exhibited along with a general increase in misogynist crime. Drug-addicted youth and an inimical capitalism complete the picture but the misery does not end there. Punjabi NRI’s are criticized for being too materialistically attached. A mother is exhibited thrusting an ipad in her son’s face whilst drinking her heart out. In a subtle nod to ingrained Punjabi machismo, women are depicted as being more guilty than men. The ipad mother, for example, is depicted as being guilty of perverting her son’s worldview and health. What of her husband though? For a well-renowned promulgator of gender equality, what is Mann trying to insinuate? Punjabi women are more guilty than their husbands vis-a-vis alcoholism? Punjabi women are nothing more than per di juti (a male’s shoe)? An effective message against alcoholism, as a result, is devolved into a finger-pointing charade between both sexes. Andro-centrism, societal atrophy- which produces rampant substance abuse-,political and societal corruption are all glossed over to ultimately depict the disease but not it’s cure. Cultural degrading of women, which the Sikh Gurus railed against, is surprisingly given no mention. The inherent malaise of Punjabi culture-both alien and inherent- is effectively dismissed. Ultimately Punjab can be compared to a patient who is not aware of his affliction and is unable to locate a physician to alleviate his distress. Punjab would have not been complete without the formulaic analysis of Punjab’s long lost glory. An uncontrolled influx of pesticides and notorious agricultural chemicals is blamed for being the principle foe of Punjab’s declining agro-profit bank. The political policies behind this declining and the subsequent increase in drug addiction coupled with migration, though, is surprisingly not mentioned. The perversion of religious norms, in the state, is only granted a brief minute. No mention is made of politically backed Deras and the Godmen who run rife among the populace. The recent beadbi of the Sikh canon is only mentioned in passing. Again, the cause behind these episodes is conspicuously absent from Mann’s narrative. For an artist whose nationalistic passion is unbridled, one is forced to wonder what would actually transpire if Bhagat Singh and Mann met face to face? Singh possessed an iron-will and was more than overjoyed to accept the death sentence for his having confronted the incumbent tyranny. Would such a revolutionary silently accept Punjab, or criticize it for it’s half-truths and loop-sided assertions? Our bone with Mann is not over his non-conformism to the Sikh ethos. Rather, it is over his hypocrisy. The dera he attends in Nakodar is well-famed for intoxicant abuse. His rallying against drug abuse, then, emerges as an attempt to hide his own dirty linen. It is not surprising that Punjabi youth are already attempting to exonerate him by claiming that he is an artist and free to sing whatever he so desires. We concur, but it must be said that prominent personalities also possess a duty towards society vis-a-vis their own leanings. A teacher, by nature, should also employ the principles he preaches for maximum articulation. Mann falls short of the principles he advertises. His association with deras, sycophantic promulgation of notorious personalities and the like have all contributed towards tarnishing Punjab. What could have been a decisive blow, in the heart of the moral atrophy afflicting Punjab, instead emerges as an attempt to absolve himself. The timing of the track, in the immediate aftermath of the Punjab elections, also calls into question his Bona fides. To reiterate our earlier view: Mann is only attempting to exonerate himself in the face of the awakening ensconcing Punjab; he is not the victim of the times, but rather a victim of his own image. https://tisarpanthdotcom.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/a-two-faced-muse/