Saturday, January 15, 2005

Paaji in da house

Now I have no fond memories of what Mtv and Channel [V] were like, simply because I have no memories of them. I wasn't in the country in the good ol' days when (I hear) Luke Kenny ruled and Cyrus Broacha was the freshest thing ever on tv. However, it couldn't have been like this. Why on earth are these leather-clad Sikhs wearing head warmers and walking around a warehouse singing Punjabi songs with a hiphop beat in front of a fisheye lens? Who listens to this? Why are these voluptuous Indian women dancing like that in their underwear? And does it not strike anybody, from the heads (nearly typed 'herds' there) of record companies to the guy who sticks the broadcast tape in at Mtv that Punjabi hiphop is an impossibility?

Having lived in Brooklyn, I've been lucky enough to have friends who would break into song at the drop of a hat at the university dining hall and other places. They did it beautifully, and the performance was as rewarding as the rhyme itself. Punjabi hiphop, on the other hand, is like watching Britney Spears. Netiher should be on telly, but there they are. And it's rumoured that there's a market for this stuff.

Another problem with Punjabi hiphop, and a lot of other entertainment in India, is that what should have been a novelty suddenly becomes more lasting because of its success. It's like a sudden spurt of horror movies after one does well, or the last decade's herd of romantic movies after 'Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge' (We still haven't recovered from that trend, by the way).

Hence the current barrage of Punjabi hiphop videos. Most start with a) a lone Punjabi male wailing mournfully before the beat sets in, and b) an African-American uttering gibberish before the beat sets in. This went out of fashion in the US with Vanilla Ice.

"Jassi in da house," proclaims a mandatory black* at the start of one especially inane music video. That's the problem. I want him out of my house.

*'Black' is a term used for matters of convenience on this blog.


amit varma said...

It is mandatory to refer to a mandatory black as a mandatory African-American. Shame on you.

I worked in those darn places while you were dropping hats so that friends would sing in Brooklyn, and I can tell you that things weren't so much better then. I was there when Daler Mehndi made his debut; I sat and squirmed when remixes filled the screen; I contemptuously shook my head and said "No way!" when a friend asked, "Do you think item numbers will become a trend in Hindi films?" I've been there, done that and got the strapless bustier. But why did you come back?

Rahul Bhatia said...

I came back for the strapless turban.