Sunday, August 1

Here come 'Putt Chamaran De'

The growing Dalit assertion in Punjab is now finding voice in Punjabi music too with singers coming up with songs of confidence and even pride in their Dalit identity, writes Jatinder Preet in The Sunday Guardian
For a state that has the highest level of concentration of Scheduled Castes (SCs) in any one state of India (28.9 per cent, as per Census 2001) this should not come as a surprise. But what has been revelatory is the passion and intensity of this celebration of the identity. According to conservative estimates as many as 2000 music albums celebrating Dalit identity have come out in market in last two years complete with music videos making a song and dance of it.
So we have Punjabi singers singing of ‘Majhbi, Valmiki, Chamaran de munde (Boys of Majhbi, Valmiki, Chamar castes)’ and audiences are lapping it up. So popular have these songs become that these are now being played in marriages and on festive occasions.
“We have danced enough on the songs that talked of pride of Jatts but now we have our own songs to dance to,” says Rajkumar, a young fan.
It is to this section of the Dalit youth that the songs are being belted out that talk of ‘Ankhi Putt Chamaran De (Proud Sons of Chamars)’ and ‘Gabru Sher Chamaran De (young Lions of Chamars)’. Most of these songs limit themselves to talk of the pride that sometimes border on conceit and vanity. A popular duet by Satveer Jyoti and Raj Dadral ‘Mai taan suneya mundean chamran de full charche (I’ve heard that there is talk of Chamar boys everywhere)’ is one in that category. At the same time Diljaan sings ‘Saddi Jaat Chamar Hai Sanu Sab Naal Pyar Hai (We are Chamars and we love everyone)’.
But with the catching up of the trend of such songs, ante is being upped. Vijay Momi’s song takes almost threatening tone ‘Panga soch samajh ke payo naal chamara de (Think before messing up with a Chamar).’
However, what remains common in these songs is the assertion of a separate identity like that in the song of Roop Lal Dhir - ‘Ikmuth ho kaum de sheran ne wakhri hond banayi (Together lions of the community carved a separate identity for themselves).’
Raj Dadwal, a popular singer who writes his own songs, sees nothing wrong in making a song of the status of the community. It is not against any other caste or community, he emphasises adding “Through this assertion of our identity we are only trying to exhort our fellow-community people to shed their self-consciousness as only that can lead to their true emancipation.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

good piece!