Punjab’s best-known singer has finally spoken, rather sung, on the most contentious issue in the state. Are drugs destroying Punjab, or is it all a plot to defame the Punjabi youth? Punjab, Gurdas Maan’s latest song, part of his album Punjab, has become an instant hit within 24 hours of its release. And though its title says little, its lyrics make it clear which side of the debate he is on.
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“Chitte da toofan ena palah ho gia, Rangla Punjab da rang kala ho gia (The storm of chitta has hit so hard that the colours of Punjab have all turned black),” Maan sings. For the February 4 Punjab Assembly elections, drugs was a key issue on which Opposition Congress and AAP had campaigned against the Akali Dal.
Maan sings that “a storm of drugs is blowing across the state… the brave have lost their bravery… drugs have destroyed Punjabi youth.”
The singer, still a hot favourite more than two decades after his smash debut with his Dil da Mamla Hai, says he deliberately waited for the elections to be held before releasing the number as he did not want it to become mired in political controversy.
“I have been an ambassador of the Election Commission, so I did not release my album before polling. Secondly, I did not want that my album should have anything to do with elections,” he said.
But there is nothing apolitical about the song, which also grazes off other hot-button issues in Punjab, such as incidents of desecration that shook that state in 2015, pesticides killing crops, a reference to the cotton disaster in 2016, and about “there being no difference between milk and liquor, even village pond’s water has become unfit for consumption”. He also takes a dig at “people [who] have started mocking at martyrs”, and asks “how much history can Delhi change?”
Mann has sung on social and political issues before, notably most recently in his Coke Studio song Kee Banoo Duniya Da, in which he talks about how politics and drugs were eating into the youth of Punjab. “My motherland Punjab and its loving people have made me what I am today. I have gathered immense love and respect from Punjabis across the world. And as an artist, it is my responsibility to give back love to my land Punjab and its people,” Maan told The Indian Express.
Conceptualised and directed by his son Gurickk G Maan, the video of Punjab is already making waves, with Maan seen in a new avatar, flying, time-travelling, performing risky stunts, being suspended almost 120 feet in the air and thoroughly enjoying all the action.
Produced by Saga Music, the album features seven tracks. “Public opinion and feedback mean the world to me. My life, home, music is all the gift of my mother tongue Punjabi and I owe it everything,” says Maan, adding that he believes in creating music that gives hope, vision for a better future, a motivation to be better human beings and promotes love for humanity.
“We are struggling to convince digital platforms to make Punjabi an international language, rather than just restricting it to a regional base. We believe this album and music can help us reach out to wider audiences and platforms,” says Sumeet Manchanda, producer of the album.