Kahe k sabhe kehu apan, apan kahawe ala keba?
Sukhwa ta sab kehu baate,dukhwa batawe wala keba?
(We can call everyone our own, but who is to call us their own?
Everyone is willing to share our happiness, but who is to side with us in times of sorrow?)
Do you recognize this script? Have you heard this song before? Chances are, if you are a young person, you haven’t even recognised the language. The lines given above are in Bhojpuri, from the 1983 film Ganga Kinare Mora Gaon. It might be difficult for some to believe that the lines are in Bhojpuri, and many of you might perhaps be floundering to search a sexual meaning from the lines, for how is a Bhojpuri song complete without references to sex, women and livid audio pornography?
We haven’t taken to preach about the moral and artistic corruption of Bhojpuri music, and subsequently the resultant wrongful perception of a beautiful language, out of the blue. There is a worrying context behind it. An analysis of Wikipedia’s regional language trends has thrown up rather disturbing findings. Among Bhojpuri searches, the Wikipedia page for Bur, or vagina, tops the list. Other top Wikipedia pages which were searched in Bhojpuri are those relating to sex positions and female genitalia.
A LiveMint report has served as reason enough for many to declare Bhojpuri a ‘dirty’ language. They are spinning theories of ‘suppressed sexuality’ in Bihar as a possible explanation as to why Bhojpuri speakers seem to be abnormally fascinated by sex and related topics. Of course, none of these higher beings is willing to dissect the many problems which plague the Bhojpuri entertainment industry, which is also synonymous to the porn industry in today’s times.
For Bihar, which has seen a large migration of the educated lot out of the state to other parts of India and the world, and where, in recent years, the underprivileged, too, have gotten unprecedented access to the internet, the vulturous music industry is feeding off the inquisitiveness of people, primarily the youth. When you serve trash to the extent that it is mainstreamed as the only possible content that gets consumed, how is it minutely fair to pontificate about supposed ‘sexual suppression’ in Bihari society?
It is only in the recent past that the Bhojpuri entertainment industry, releasing music albums without any checks, has managed to corrupt large swathes of people who only recently have come across the digital world. When you bombard a susceptible population, primarily comprising of underprivileged individuals and new to the digital world with songs and films relating only to sex, it is a bit given that the consumers will think of the said activity as the ultimate goal of life. Sex is being over-sold by the Bhojpuri music industry as though it is the beginning and the end of life. For the people who have newfound access to fair and democratic cyberspace, this constant bombardment of misogynistic trash is what triggers them to reflect the same externally-fed psyche in Wikipedia pages.
Now while Tamil, Assamese, Odia and Kannada readers, the LiveMint analysis found, took to Wikipedia’s regional language pages to learn about their respective languages, literature and culture, Marathis showed a fond interest in historical figures like Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. Punjabis majorly searched Wikipedia for reading up on religion, the Guru Granth Sahib and the 10 Sikh Gurus.
Why do the search trends in Bhojpuri have sex and related topics at the very top, however? Are Biharis some unnaturally hyper-sexual beings who see not anything apart from sex and women? The UPSC results every year tell a different story. Yet, a section of people, uninformed themselves, have taken to ill-inform others as well, and are painting an unimaginably fallacious image of Biharis and somehow blaming them for being willing consumers of soft porn masquerading as music. Let’s make something clear: There is no choice offered to the people of Bihar. Listening to trash is a compulsion, as that is what is primarily being manufactured by a corrupted music industry surviving at the mercy of autotune.
Such is the rot in the Bhojpuri music industry, that one will not find at least one decent Bhojpuri song without a considerable struggle on the internet. The digital space is flooded with b-grade songs in the language. Again, it will not be fair to completely absolve the large audiences from their criminal-like behaviour in contributing to the growth of such an industry. The fanfare for Bhojpuri songs is not just limited to Bihar and surrounding areas but finds a rather pan-India audience. As someone from the Northeast, I can say with a sense of authority that here too, people will break into hideous dance steps and gestures at the first instance of a B-grade Bhojpuri song tune hitting their eardrums.
What is needed is a censoring of cheap, crude and outrightly abominable Bhojpuri songs, and it is needed now. For how long will the brazen commodification of women and their unnatural sexualisation by the Bhojpuri entertainment, particularly music industry be tolerated? The censoring of dirty music is needed for saving the Bhojpuri language. The unconscious consumption of trash by people across the country needs to be stopped.
The Bhojpuri entertainment industry reverting to its former glory and beauty is the need of an hour. Resuscitation of the art of Sharda Sinha, Bharat Vyas and Madan Rai is the need of the hour. The memory of the “Shakespeare of Bhojpuri” – Bhikhari Thakur needs to be reinvigorated. The audiences need to be informed and educated as to how Bhojpuri songs are doing a shameful disservice to the language, culture and people of Bihar. Trashy ‘content’ which begins and ends with what lies under the pants of a man and woman cannot be considered music, leave alone an indicator about the quality of a language.
‘Lagaawelu jab lipstick’ can be a rare release to which everyone, irrespective of their community and language barriers can groove. However, it cannot become the only kind of music which is dolled out by Bhojpuri singers. The names of Bhojpuri songs and films, which have come out in an era of “pop culture” are bound to put any person to shame. Only because a community is backward in terms of literacy– but who have an internet connection nonetheless which allows them free streaming of such content– can not become an excuse for shameless ‘artists’ of Bihar to exploit them and hijack their minds only to reap monetary benefits out of the same. Vulgarity among a people whose minds have been exploited will sell. It is for the people of India to immediately put an end to this naked show of vulgarism, sexism and misogyny, all of which are collectively leading to unjust defamation of the people.