6 posts in this topic

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/

 

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The problem arises when we put artists like Mann on some sort of figurative podium above everyone else. That forms some sort of expectation that they're supposed to say and do the right thing. Once we are able to tear down the mental idolatry of these individuals we won't give two hoots what these guys say nor will we feel insecure every time they do or don't do something that is questionable. 

We've succumbed to complaining about artists such as Mann instead of educating our youth and building our community. We're all responsible and shouldn't diffuse responsibility on others.

 

 

Babbu Maan made a song about Baba Ranjit SIngh Dhadrianwale calling out how he was abusing the very respected title of Sant and Sikhi to further himself as an individual through money, but after a while Baba Ranjit SIngh Dhadrianwale must have had an epiphany and he has changed for the better - the extent only he himself knows.

I know about Mann and many artists being complicit with dushts of the panth and their lack of jameer, but are we so fallen that we care so much about these artists that we feel offended every time they do something? That to me only shows a sign of weakness of having failed.

 

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17 hours ago, Singh559 said:

The problem arises when we put artists like Mann on some sort of figurative podium above everyone else.   That forms some sort of expectation that they're supposed to say and do the right thing. 

Who does this this elevation? Only a simpleton <banned word filter activated> in my eyes. And if loads of our people are of this ilk, that's a failure of our society and it's education system. 

At the end of the day people have to realise the role of folk singers in pendistic societies like ours. They are artists (modern day mirasis) who need to eat too. And these days everyone (including Amritdharis) has a large appetite. So they reflect what they believe will get them patronage from the audience.

Artists just reflect what people want to hear. So I say this song is a sign of success,  the success of the more conscious amongst us being able to sway popular culture above banalities to reflect more pressing issues - it is a success because otherwise I can pretty much guarantee that he'd probably be singing dumb songs about drinking or how great being a farmer is, or other miscellaneous 'lover boy' and 'lover girl' antics i.e. generally stupid and pointless or outright destructive things.

It's like the late Kuldeep Manak who made some deep tunes but also came out with straight fuduness like Jut ho gaya sharaabi. It's us, as the public, that should be putting discreet pressure on our folk singers to magnify the right thing. We all know (or we should by now!) that if we don't, these people will only fall back on low level populism about caste and drinking, or prancing about like a kunar or kunjaree. 

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2 hours ago, dallysingh101 said:

Who does this this elevation? Only a simpleton <banned word filter activated> in my eyes. And if loads of our people are of this ilk, that's a failure of our society and it's education system. 

At the end of the day people have to realise the role of folk singers in pendistic societies like ours. They are artists (modern day mirasis) who need to eat too. And these days everyone (including Amritdharis) has a large appetite. So they reflect what they believe will get them patronage from the audience.

Artists just reflect what people want to hear. So I say this song is a sign of success,  the success of the more conscious amongst us being able to sway popular culture above banalities to reflect more pressing issues - it is a success because otherwise I can pretty much guarantee that he'd probably be singing dumb songs about drinking or how great being a farmer is, or other miscellaneous 'lover boy' and 'lover girl' antics i.e. generally stupid and pointless or outright destructive things.

It's like the late Kuldeep Manak who made some deep tunes but also came out with straight fuduness like Jut ho gaya sharaabi. It's us, as the public, that should be putting discreet pressure on our folk singers to magnify the right thing. We all know (or we should by now!) that if we don't, these people will only fall back on low level populism about caste and drinking, or prancing about like a kunar or kunjaree. 

I made these exact same points in something I wrote earlier about this topic. Completely agree. Should check out Kuldeep Manaks last interview he talks about this issue very well.

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On 2/15/2017 at 10:14 PM, Singh559 said:

I made these exact same points in something I wrote earlier about this topic. Completely agree. Should check out Kuldeep Manaks last interview he talks about this issue very well.

Yeah, I revisited that interview and he does say the same thing. If we are complaining about the state of Panjabi folk singers singing all kinds of rubbish, us as the public and our own media are to blame because we give an audience to that type of crap and essentially promote and reward it.

So yes, we should be encouraging, rewarding and promoting folk singers putting out relevant and positive stuff out there, otherwise we get the situation we have today.  

Singers and other types of creative artists have intrinsic drives that makes them create like they do, they are also reactive to the public. In the end, as Joe Public we should have a very strong hand in directing what they produce. They can be a very powerful social force if they are directed properly.  

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