So why does Anurag Kashyap love Honey Singh?

So please, people who are carrying on against Honey Singh; do it till he backs off. Not because I support a ban. But because what he is singing is just plain disgusting

Poornima Joshi Delhi

Punjabi rapper Yo Yo Honey Singh has a right to exist, argues the maker of, honestly, really fine cinema-- Anurag Kashyap. Don’t ban him, he says. Because in reality, there is sexual repression in the society. In other words, there are those who want to watch/hear Singh’s songs that celebrate violence against half of the country’s population. Indeed, there is a market for celebration of hate and degradation of women. In any case, it is wrong to ban anything in a civilized society. So let us engage with Honey Singh.

So far so good and I agree with the “no ban” part. Except that the demand is not about banning so much as it is about calling him out. We are saying what Honey Singh is doing is wrong and that he should cut it out. So please, people who are carrying on against him; do it till he backs off. Not because I support a ban. But because what Honey Singh is singing is just plain disgusting. So keep at it till he finds a way other than degrading women to sell his songs. It is just too easy to use violence as titillation and be celebrated as a lyricist on the internet. It is not about a lynch mob finding a soft target; it is about opposing marketing of and capitalizing on violence against women. It is about opposing collective legitimization of building a career out of degradation of women.

It did not happen so far on this scale because there was no mass upsurge or reflection of anger against routine molestation of women. Some of us seethed in silence. And as someone has written somewhere, autorickshaws would blast these offensive numbers at women who would cover their mortification by acting as if they had not heard. If Kashyap is from where he is, he would understand how women cling on to their dignity by pretending that there are no catcalls or lewd comments when they walk past the small town streets. The brutalization of a young woman has incited collective anger against structural sexism in our society and we are, thankfully, talking about issues that concern women in their daily lives with the seriousness that they deserve.

I understand some people get their kicks out of visualizing women in degrading situations. Some find pleasure in abusing children or even worse. But I will oppose and protest against a popular culture that celebrates this violence. That legitimizes it because this is how it is. And hats off to you Kashyap for standing up for your kind of cinema, against what passes off as ‘this is how it is’ in the Indian film industry; if ‘loving your family’ is what it takes, dish it out. And for the record, I have watched Gulal as well as Chittagong and will join him in railing against the almost uniform retardation that is called Bollywood.

Getting back to ‘this is how it is’ business, Kashyap’s equanimity about it is disappointing. It is because he has gone through it that we expect him to join the demand for change. Just because nobody noticed it so far and the songs were bandied about does not mean they should continue to. And why support Honey Singh instead of joining those who are telling him to stop degrading women even if he is just a symptom of the problem? Why not examine the symptom and walk with us on the streets to push for a cure? Or is it that you condone the headiness of success that comes out of celebrating hate and violence?

As for sexual repression, the presumption, of course, is that it is only the male of the species that is repressed especially since it is always the men who indulge in sexual violence. So while we presume that women are a bunch of sexually satiated lot, men have to be presumed to be collectively waiting to let off steam. They do it at the first opportunity by raping, brutalizing and, in the recent case, butchering a woman who did nothing except watch a film and wait for a bus at the stop. They also do it by laughing at offensive songs and expletives. This is how it is. I agree.

But now that we realize that for a lot of people, the situation is unacceptable, are we not going to challenge these attitudes. I mean if men are so repressed, surely there are some women who may be not so happy with their sex lives. Surely there is something to be learnt from the way we conduct ourselves. And believe me there are a whole lot of us and the men who do not want men to (mis)behave the way they routinely do. We want things to change for the better. We want safer streets, respect, dignity, equal pay and opportunity. We want all of it. We do not want Honey Singh to be banned but yes, we do want him to stop singing songs that celebrate rape or violence against women. Where is the contradiction? As for you Kashyap, we want you with us. One can hardly expect those who ‘love their families’ to do it.