New Delhi: National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Rekha Sharma wants Vikash Gop aka Yadav ji arrested, because the Bhojpuri singer, has hurled curse words at Bollywood actress Rhea Chakraborty in a song.
Chakraborty has been at the centre of a media outrage storm due to her boyfriend Sushant Singh Rajput’s apparent death by suicide.
The song has outraged NCW’s Sharma so much that on 11 August, she called for Vikash’s arrest.
“This man Vikash must be arrested. Why can’t we let law enforcement agencies work when they are already investigating the case?” she tweeted, adding that even if someone is guilty, no one has the right to use such filthy language against them. “Let the law take its course,” she posted.
This man Vikash must be arrested. Why can't we let law enforcement agencies work when they are already investigating the case. Even if someone is guilty, no one has the right to use such filthy language against the person. Let law takes its course. @DGPBihar @bihar_police https://t.co/RwlPmM1hZC
— Rekha Sharma (@sharmarekha) August 11, 2020
Sharma also tagged Bihar DGP Gupteshwar Pandey (albeit with the wrong handle) and the Bihar Police.
But this is not the only Bhojpuri song of its kind released since Rajput’s father registered an FIR against Chakraborty in Patna for abetment of suicide.
The names they call Rhea Chakraborty
There is ‘Rhea toh r***i hai’ (Rhea is a prostitute), a 2-minute-36-second-long song uploaded on 9 August on a YouTube channel named Bandamru. The song currently has over 1,65,000 views, while the channel has 6,470 subscribers.
Another channel named Ramjanam Yadav, with more than 12,000 subscribers, has also uploaded a song using the same curse word against Rhea. This almost three-minute-long song was also uploaded on 9 August, and currently has over 65,000 views.
Then, there is a song put up by the channel S Music 2 and sung by ‘Pramod LIC’, which has a twist. It disparages actors Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan for being Muslims, and asks Chakraborty ‘where will you run, prostitute?’ The rest of the lyrics provide no context for why the Khans are even in the song.
There is even a bunch of bhakti songs, available if you use Chakraborty or Rajput’s name as a search term along with ‘bhakti song’.
One, on the Bandamru channel mentioned above, shows an illustration of the Goddess Durga, and goes: “E maiya, Rhea, Salman, Karan (Johar) ke phasi chadhe ke chahi ki naa? (Should Rhea , Salman and Karan be hanged or not?)”
Bhojpuri industry’s epidemic of cursing
Such songs ask the question that even if one Vikash is arrested on the basis of the NCW chief’s tweet, that would be a drop in the ocean because there is an epidemic of swear words and abusive language in the Bhojpuri music industry.
As the Central Bureau of Investigation probes Rajput’s death, the earlier investigation by the Mumbai Police and its media coverage generated a debate on nepotism in Bollywood, in which names like Salman Khan, Karan Johar and Alia Bhatt were thrown around. And as these names kept cropping up, so did Bhojpuri songs cursing them, given Rajput’s roots in Bihar.
Even before that, the hot topic of the day was reflected in new profanity-laden songs being uploaded virtually every day, from China amid its standoff with Indian troops at the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh, or the Covid-19 pandemic, colloquially known as ‘corona’ after the virus that spreads it.
The trend had devolved into profanity after years of blatant misogyny, sexualisation and double entendres.
New boys are ‘playing with emotions’
Bhojpuri singer Sharda Sinha, a Padma Bhushan awardee who also sings in Bihar’s other major language, Maithili, believes that “like politicians, the new boys are playing with the emotions of listeners to grab views on YouTube”.
Sinha told ThePrint: “Music has become like politics. Trending issues are exploited as much as possible. Lewd songs are made on serious issues ranging from the coronavirus outbreak to the death of Sushant. These people have no regard for the seriousness of such matters.”
Bhojpuri actor/singer and BJP MP Manoj Tiwari also believes things are going from bad to worse, and can only be improved with the regulation of content on online platforms.
Sharda Sinha’s son Anshuman Sinha runs the Swar Sharda Art and Culture Foundation, and said autotune software has completely ruined Bhojpuri songs.
“Since autotune is extremely cheap to buy and use, almost everyone in the Bhojpuri industry now has his own recording studio, leading to a flood of such songs,” he said.
Munna Pandey, who teaches Hindi at Satyawati College in Delhi, considers the altered politics of nationalism since 2014 as a major reason for the growing trend of such songs. Pandey has done his PhD on Bhikhari Thakur, revered as the ‘Shakespeare of Bhojpuri’.
He said: “The songs have kept getting worse since 2014, and the ruling BJP has given recognition to them by inducting people like Manoj Tiwari, Ravi Kishan, Pawan Singh and Kalpana Patwari, who were the pioneers of such songs.”
It’s not just a one-party problem — Pandey pointed to the appointment of Vinay Bihari as a minister in the JD(U)-led Bihar government when Jitan Ram Manjhi became CM in 2014, though he was dragged to court for penning numerous vulgar songs (he was granted bail the same year).
But Manoj Tiwari, the BJP MP for Northeast Delhi, vehemently denied allegations of politicians normalising vulgarity.
“How can you accuse me of being vulgar? It was I who turned Bhojpuri cinema into a form of family entertainment. I got a Bhojpuri film festival organised, and when my film Sasura Bada Paisewaala became a blockbuster, the value of other Bhojpuri actors also increased,” Tiwari said.
In his assessment, the problem is that “today’s boys want to become stars overnight”.
Nitin Chandra, who won the National Award for the film Mithila Makhaan, blamed internal migration for the poor state of Bihar’s languages, saying speaking Bhojpuri is almost considered a sign of illiteracy.
“People ranging from Anurag Kashyap to Prakash Jha have never worked in Bhojpuri,” he said, adding Bhojpuri has been left in the hands of people who are quite “communal, feudalistic as well as misogynistic”.
“Be it the coronavirus scare or the Sushant’s suicide, we need women and Muslims everywhere to vent our frustration at,” Chandra said.
Nirala Bidesia, journalist and part of Bhojpuri promotion and literary development initiative called ‘Aakhar’, said Biharis confined their daughters behind lock and key, and never allowed local women to become actors or singers. Because of this, the backbone of art was shattered in Bihar.
“Barring one or two exceptions, almost all female singers and actors are from outside Bihar. Patriarchal society has produced male heroes and singers only,” he said.
“Now, we bear the consequences.”
Note: Part of this article was previously published as a feature on Bhojpuri songs. It can be read here.