Is the Punjabi music trade lastly able to usher a brand new development of message-driven, clear lyrics?

Gurnaaz Kaur

Sangrur meri jaan, Punjab meri shaan… Virsa ae dharti da kidhre bhul na jaayo ji, vekhan eh Sangrur virasat lazmi tusi aayo ji… from Viraast-e-Sangrur written and sung by Sat Nagar.

Just think about it

Ravi Inder Sheen, lyricist, singer and music composer, who gave music to National award-winning movie Nabar thinks there is still a long way to go. “Drugs and lyrics have done equal damage to the youth of Punjab. Our industry is not music based; it is lyrics based. Ninety per cent of the songs have the same composition and very few songs really help you understand our society, folk, culture but that is not enough. Even today I would say, just a couple of songs cannot promise change. The current political scenario is such that as a natural reaction we are hearing such songs but only if it continues will it mean something else it is just an eyewash.”

Sikh regiment kadon bani si, te kithe kithe dhak paunde is, padhi na kitab raani jinda… from Kinne Aye Kinne Gaye written by Lovely Noor and sung by Ranjit Bawa.

These are some of the recently released songs. There is the classic Challa that in its latest form by Nishawn talks about the farming crisis that Punjab is dealing with. Amrinder Gill’s song Soorjan Wale, which features Ammy Virk and Nimrat Khaira, is a sentimental take on the poverty and struggles of farmers and villagers… Why a mention of these songs? Because these are message-driven, focused on the heritage of Punjab, have clean lyrics and most importantly reflect a changing landscape in an industry that is mostly identified with vulgar, misogynistic songs.

At every step of the way there are many involved in bringing out the final product and each of these stakeholders is in favour of this new trend. As a singer, one becomes the band ambassador of the words he weaves in his tunes.

Ranjit Bawa believes songs that inform the youth about their roots is the need of the hours. “All the time we hear that Punjab’s youth is into drugs or walking the wrong path. With easy access to internet, they hardly stop and think. So, in a subtle way, music can nudge them towards the forgotten history. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to create songs that become melodious reminders and eventually eye-openers for people.”

Pretty much on the same page is lyricist-singer Sat Nagar who began his musical journey some six years ago and has since stuck to his father’s advice. “When I joined the industry, my father told me to always make songs that can be enjoyed in the presence of kids and women in the family. That’s my idea of good music.” If music can be educative for its listeners, it can be the same for its creator. In the opportunity to write about his own town Sangrur, Sat Nagar says he got close to the place. “I discovered so many new facts and figures, stories of some great personalities who once lived on this land.”

Music composers too have come on board to reclaim the space and thus turn it into a real movement. Sukh Brar, who composed Kinne Aye Kinne Gaye, says it is the responsibility of the entire industry to showcase the real Punjab through the art. “There was a dire need for change in Punjabi music because somewhere we have drawn away from our virsa. The new generation doesn’t know the real Punjab. It is our duty to inform them about asli Punjab. We have done many such tracks, including Time, Jinna Rabb Ditta Je Ehna Vi Na Denda Te Ki Karde that can prove to be a guiding force or at least make people think.”

Music labels also need to support songs that create a new wave. Rhythm Boyz is among the top production companies and producer Karaj Gill thinks, “All these songs are a good sign. We have been complaining since a long time that the youth is being misled by poor lyrics. Finally, there are songs talking about issues that are relevant or will have a long-term positive effect, I am very happy about it.”

Jatinder Singh Rai of Rai Beats, a music company, also promises to paint the right picture through the music his company endorses. “Our society needs people with right thinking and being a music company owner, I’ve made an effort in that direction through our song Jatt Te Siri, which is written by revered saint Ram Udasi.”

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