A social media spat between two Punjabi singers that threatened to spill on to the streets has reignited the debate over the glorification of a culture of violence, drugs and alcohol in contemporary Punjabi songs.
The war of words began when Mohali-based Ramandeep Singh Randhawa (28) alias Rammi Randhawa and his brother Prince lampooned New Zealand-based Harkirat Singh alias Elly Mangat (30) for singing songs that glamourised alcohol and guns. With a huge social media following, Mangat hit back.
The spat started on social media applications like Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Snapchat and YouTube and soon the singers dared each other to come at a particular location for an actual fight, prompting police to take them into custody.
While Randhawa is out on bail, Mangat, who flew down from Canada for the clash, was remanded in police custody for two days and is now in judicial custody for 14 days.
Matters came to a head when Mangat told Randhawa on Instagram live that he would fly to India on September 11 and take him on at his house. Randhawa responded by going live on Facebook and daring Mangat to come, saying that he would be waiting at his home.
Taking note of the threats, police first arrested Randhawa and then Mangat on his arrival in Mohali. The Randhawa brothers claim that they hit out at Mangat to “protect Punjabi culture and youth from the “negative effect” of his songs.
Paul G, a singer and a friend of Mangat, told mediapersons that Mangat was forced to respond because Randhawa brothers challenged him on stage. “Look at the number of our fans here. They (Randhawa brothers) talk about culture, but abused our mothers and sisters in videos,” he said.
The face-off reignited the ongoing debate over the content of contemporary Punjabi music videos and the effect they have on the youth, especially since many songs glamourise the use of opium, alcohol and guns. In the recently-concluded monsoon session of the Assembly, several MLAs demanded these songs be censored. The state government responded that this was under the purview of the censor board and that the matter had been taken up at the appropriate level.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Chairperson of Punjab Women Commission Manisha Gulati said, “The lyrics of many Punjabi songs have derogatory references to women and promote dangerous habits… But sadly, the police too is not acting…” she said.
Mohali SSP Kuldeep Singh Chahal said the cyber wing of the police is keeping an eye on singers who post vulgar songs or comments. “We shall register more FIRs against such singers,” he said.
Leader of Opposition in Assembly, Harpal Cheema, said many singers who promote violence and a culture of addiction were anti-social elements.