Why blame films when Punjabi songs glorify drugs and liquor?

Manjeet Sehgal
Manjeet SehgalJul 11, 2016 | 22:54

Why blame films when Punjabi songs glorify drugs and liquor?

Punjab's BJP-Akali Dal government may have directly or indirectly created obstacles in the release of Udta Punjab, which attempted to tell the reality, but never tried to censor Punjabi songs which openly extol hard drugs like opium and heroin.

Be it popular Punjabi singers like Gurdas Mann, Jazzy B or the new breed like Resham Anmol, Jass Dhaliwal, Sarthi K or Gurjit - everybody is singing songs that glorify liquor, opium and heroin.


Songs that initially extolled liquor and opium have now made heroin - known as chitta in Punjab - the theme of their songs.

While famous singer Gurdas Mann's popular number "Kar Di Sharab Hove" with over ten crore "views" on YouTube promotes locally distilled hooch, Jazzy B, in his Feem (opium) album with 366,926 "views", compares a woman's eyes to opium.

Known for his Nagni songs (opium is known as nagni or feem in Punjab), Resham Anmol's popular song "Jini Tere College Fees" has recorded more than one crore "views".

According to his song, the opium "he consumes" every morning can be compared to a girl's college fees. There are dozens of Punjabi songs that glorify drugs and receive more "views" online than normal.

Music companies say it is important to add a song in the album that either talks about guns or intoxication. Comparing a woman to heroin or opium is also common in today's Punjabi songs.

"Opium is considered as an intoxication of the rich. Consuming opium is not considered bad in Punjab as our forefathers did it. There were no chitta (heroin) songs five years ago as there was no heroin. Songwriters started composing songs on chitta, and as it reached the hands of the youth, it became a real problem," says Harvinder Singh, a Mohali-based producer.

Shahid Kapoor in the song "Chitta Ve" from Udta Punjab. 

Singers say they have to present what the public demands. As there are hardly any music shops, they largely depend on digital advertising or live shows.

In most cases they are called to perform during festivals or marriages where people are either drunk or high on drugs. They demand songs that are romantic and talk about intoxication.

"It is true that songs extolling drugs are few in number but they attract more listeners/viewers. People holding liquor-filled glasses on their heads ask me to sing my 'Kamli' song that talks about opium and liquor. It is the ambience or the demand which compels the singers or the songwriters to spin intoxicating lyrics," says Sarthi K, a Patiala-based singer whose "Challa" and "Kamli" songs openly refer to drugs.

Besides social media, such songs are also regularly played on music television channels. They not only link drugs with luxury or high status but also create a demand for banned substances.

Attempts are also made to get more "views" or "hits" for such songs by hiring professionals and running digital media campaigns.

Once a particular song is declared a "hit", it is performed in live shows, which is now a major source of revenue for album producers and singers.


"Songs are the mirror of society. When there is a presence of chitta, it will be reflected in lyrics. Despite a few chitta songs, they are being liked by the society. If there is no demand, there will not be songs about intoxication," says Nimrat Khera, a Punjabi singer.

Another singer, Nishawn Bhullar says controversial songs depicting drugs and violence are short-lived. Yet songs that educate the youth to shun drugs have a role to play.

"If a pro-drugs environment is being created, counter efforts are being made by writing educational songs. Punjab is going through a difficult phase. This is a time to motivate the youth towards a healthy and progressive way of life," says Bhullar.

One of the biggest reasons such objectionable songs, glorifying drugs or violence, are in circulation is the non-existence of a local censor board.

The singers, producers or live show organisers openly show opium, liquor, heroin or violence in songs that are specially recorded for the digital media where they can be released without spending a single penny.

The state government, which is not ready to accept the AIIMS study which says that Punjab has the largest number of opioid dependents in the country, with nearly Rs 20 crore spent per day to buy drugs, says films like Udta Punjab are part of an anti-Punjab propaganda to portray the state in poor light.

"In my opinion there should be a ban on such songs as they directly or indirectly impact young minds," says medical education and research minister Anil Joshi.

Health minister Surjit Kumar Jyani accepts that there exists an audience for songs talking about intoxication, but he and his government have no plans to put restriction on such songs.

"The audiences have developed a taste for such songs. The cultural events end up with songs on intoxication. It is a compulsion of the artists to perform such songs as there is a public demand. There is a need to change our mindset," says Jyani.

(Courtesy of Mail Today.)

Last updated: July 11, 2016 | 22:56
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