From ‘Phir Modi ko lana hai’ to ‘Har ghar bhagwa chhayega’: How Songs, Poems Fuelling Hate, Normalising Islamophobia

Such songs with highly provocative lyrics blatantly issue strong warnings to Muslims, cautioning them about severe consequences, with impunity.
From ‘Phir Modi ko lana hai’ to ‘Har ghar bhagwa chhayega’: How Songs, Poems Fuelling Hate, Normalising Islamophobia

New Delhi: William Shakespeare in one of his famous plays — Twelfth Night — says, “If music be the food of love, play on….” But what if it becomes a tool for spreading hatred?

A new popular culture seems to have — of late — emerged in the country where books, poetry and music are being used as fodder for hate and bigotry. Such uncensored songs with venomous lyrics are blared out using DJs in rallies and religious processions, and it has led to violence and even communal riots.

The questions arise here are: is there any anti-dote for this venom that is being openly spewed? Is this factory of hate acceptable to the society at large? Is the nation going the Nazi way? 

Journalist and author Kunal Purohit’s ‘H-Pop: The Secretive World of Hindutva Pop Stars’ attempts many to introspect.

“I encountered songs being used to fuel the Hindutva narrative first hand when I was in Gumla — a small town in Jharkhand,” Kunal Purohit told The Mooknayak over phone, while talking about his book.

Published by HarperCollins, it seeks to answer if a song/poem can trigger a murder, spark a riot or divide people in religious binary.

He said books, poems and songs with an open communal overtone are popular in dusty and sleeping towns of the country. Available on the Inter and offline, he said, it is quietly seizing the imagination of millions. 

Authored by distorting historical events, Purohit said, such books, songs and poems are helping people shape their opinions. 

Author Kunal Purohit with the book ‘H-Pop: The Secretive World of Hindutva Pop Stars’
Author Kunal Purohit with the book ‘H-Pop: The Secretive World of Hindutva Pop Stars’X (Formally Twitter)

“Unfortunately, it is steadily creating societal acceptability for Hindutva’s core beliefs and normalising Islamophobia by demonising minorities and vilifying critics,” he said.

Purohit’s book investigates the factors behind the popularity of the emerging cultural phenomenon of ‘Hindutva Pop’ or ‘H-Pop’, its key figures, audience, financial backers and impact on the popularity of the incumbent Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Modi. 

The book portrays a disconcerting image of a New India, united by animosity yet divided by artistic expression.

“Hindutva-fused music had been used to cause tensions between two communities (Hindus and Muslims) when there was none,” he claimed.

As his reporting expanded, he said, he started asking local people and policemen in Jharkhand about the communal tensions just to understand whether it was merely a case of law and order.

“My investigation revealed particular songs with provocative lyrics, played out in religious processions such as Ram Navami either abated or contributed to communal unrest. Later, with research, I realised there is a whole genre of pop culture — which is meant for creating communal tension and provocation,” he said.

The lyrics scrutinized by Purohit delve into the perceived threats that Hindus have faced historically and presently. Despite describing formidable adversaries, these songs assure the audience of eventual triumph on their side. 

“This underscores what I have termed elsewhere as ‘paranoid triumphalism’ — a defining feature of contemporary Hindutva ideology,” he said.

Songs such ‘Agar chua mandir toh tujhe dikha denge…(if you dared to touch a temple, we will show you…)’ are extremely popular Ram Navami processions across different states. This song depicts Muslims as perceived dangers to Hindu temples, he said, and in response to these perceived threats, it issues stern warnings to Muslims about severe consequences.

Multiple video footage available on the Internet show the song being blared out during the procession, including instances where it is played out in front of mosques as the rally moves through.

A particular verse from another popular song by a Haryanvi singer issues instructions (or rather directives) to Muslims with the following words: “Vande Mataram gaana hoga, warna yahaan se jaana hoga; nahi gaye toh jabran tujhe bhaga denge, hum tujhko teri auqaat bata denge ( you will have to chant Vande Mataram, else leave this country; if you refuse, you will be forcefully evicted, we will remind you of your status)”.

Purohit added, “If you look at it in a broader perspective of what is happening, it can be understood that Hindutva is the most prevalent ideology in the country.”

The author explained how the ideology is also being used by independent artists to hop on trends. “There are creators who are ideologically driven to do it. But there are also people who do it because they believe it is a great business to do at this point. The latter also feels this can provide a great opportunity to go viral,” he stated.

Asked how such books and songs affect people’s mindset, he exclaimed, “Earlier, we used to have on-ground events like hate speeches or riots to create an atmosphere of communal disharmony and violence. Now, with this brand of popular culture where hate speech is disguised as a book or a song, it is being extremely difficult to track the spread of communal disharmony.”

He added, “It is also making it very easy for people to consume such media because one does not have to wait for a riot or an inflammatory speech to polarise people.”

He said numerous songs and poems express an unfounded fear of a perceived Muslim demographic conquest. These creations, he said, spread entirely unsubstantiated claims that Muslims are producing children in such a large number that they will soon outnumber Hindus, turning them into a minority in their own homeland.

Consider this verse: “Kuch logo ki toh saazish hai, hum bacche khub banayenge; jab sankhya hui humse zyaada, phir apni baat manwayenge (it’s a conspiracy of some to produce more children; when they outnumber us, they would ensure that their views prevail)”.

“In the last 10-12 years, what social media has done is that it has allowed propaganda to reach you every single day,” he claimed.

He said with the advent of this brand of popular culture, a community is being radicalised every single day. “And this radicalisation is taking place in the name of entertainment,” he said.

Purohit also revealed the role of the incumbents in spreading this narrative. “Lately, there has been a greater normalisation of the hardline Hindutva ideology. I will not say it started in the 2010s, but I would say there has been a massive surge after the BJP came to power in the Centre in 2014,” he alleged.

Most of the creators, he said, of such hate contents have ever faced police complaints or held accountable by authorities. 

“That also tells us that they operate with complete impunity,” alleged the author, claiming that even a substantial chunk of people are okay with this sort of entertainment.

A report published by Open Axis in 2022 talks about similar singers. 

Laxmi Dubey
Laxmi DubeyInstagram

Laxmi Dubey, an artist from Madhya Pradesh, is recognized for creating songs with lyrics that advocate Hindu nationalist sentiments. 

Notably, her songs such as ‘Phir Modi ko lana hai (we have to bring Modi to power once again)’, ‘Har ghar bhagwa chhayega (every house will have saffron flag)’ and ‘Yogi Adityanath Gatha (Yogi Adityanath saga)’ have each garnered over 2-3 million views on YouTube. 

Her song titled ‘Har Ghar Bhagwa Chhayega Part 2’ has amassed a whopping 75 million views on the video sharing platform.

Similarly, Sanjay Faizabadi, who is known for such provocative songs, too has a huge audience. His songs like ‘Pakistan Hila Denge (we’ll make Pakistan tremble)’, ‘Har Hindustani chahe pure Pakistan ko (every Indian wants annexation of entire Pakistan)’ and ‘Lehrayenge Tiranga Lahore mein (we’ll hoist the tricolour in Lahore)’ have 16, 10, and 4.5 million views respectively on the social media platform.

Their music videos often showcase saffron pride, depictions of the Indian Army engaging in military actions and appearances by BJP leaders such as Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath as the champion of Hindutva. 

Apart from Dubey and Faizabadi, numerous lesser-known artists and content creators, despite producing content of comparatively lower quality, consistently adhere to a pattern of promoting Hindutva ideas through music, videos and memes. 

“The remarkable scale of production and popularity of such xenophobic, bigoted and chauvinistic artistic expressions is unprecedented,” said Purohit.

He pointed out the surge in the release of nationalistic films in 2018 and 2019 also holds significance, particularly in the run up of elections, when the BJP is enjoying its peak popularity. 

He said Bollywood movies such ‘Aiyaary’, ‘Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran’, ‘Satyameva Jayate’, ‘Kesari’, ‘Uri – The Surgical Strike’, ‘Bharat’ and ‘Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi’ either celebrate the bravery of the Indian Army or present a version of India’s past steeped in religious and nationalistic pride.

Similarly, in 2023, there has been an upsurge in films with themes such as ‘Gadar 2’, ‘Pathaan’, ‘Tejas’, ‘Aadipursh’, ‘The Kerala Story’, ‘The Vaccine War’, ‘Mission Raniganj’, among other, hitting the screens.

Saira Halim, a social and political activist with a flair for the media, too echoes popular culture has normalised hate and minority bashing in the country.

“Rap music with hateful lyrics such as ‘Desh ke ghaddaron ko, goli maaro saalon ko (shoot the traitors)’ are polluting the majority's mindset. If we compare it to the songs of the 1980s and 1990s, there was a strong ‘Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb’ (which describes syncretic culture of the country) in its lyrics,” she explained while talking to The Mooknayak, alleging that “popular culture is being used along with the mainstream media to fuel hate”.

Recent movies, she said, don’t have patriotism but jingoism in it.

“If you watch ‘Fighter’ (which was released recently), the Pakistani fighter pilot who is the villain is wearing Kohr in his eyes. Which fighter pilot wears Kohr and says ‘janab’ at the drop of his hat?” she asked.

Even in controversial movies like ‘Animal’, the villain is a Muslim. To justify the violence, the anti-hero and the bootlegger have to be Muslim, she said.

Comparing it to the movies, which came in the past, Halim added, “It is not that there were no patriotic films in the past, but diverse themes were explored. For example, ‘Border’ was about the Indian Army, and ‘Swades’ was about returning to one’s roots.”

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