Posted by Pranay Dwivedi
The thumbnail of one of the most popular Punjabi music videos of Indian YouTube, the “High Rated Gabru”, shows Guru Randhawa looking at a woman by his side and the boasting numbers “965 million+” views. The entire music video along with its lyrics revolves around Guru’s obsession with the beauty and persona of the female lead.
And so out of curiosity, if you ever try to find out who this girl making Guru crazy in love is, you will not find her name in the title of the song, or further, any mention in the huge description box of the video. You might find space for everything like how to set this song as your caller tune over there but no mention of the female lead whose presence throughout is evident in the three minutes and thirty-seven seconds music video.
The same is the case with “Lahore”, by Guru Randhawa and T-series, another one of popular Punjabi music videos almost touching the one billion views mark. The song is about a search for a girl who has made the singer fall in love. No prizes for guessing, if you were to search for the name of the female lead, you will find the mention of the costume designer but even then not her name in the official video’s title or description.
There are several other examples where the music industry has illustrated its patriarchal behavior, wherein they glorify a woman’s beauty but invisibilise her when it comes to acknowledging, if not honouring, her prowess.
Be it the sexual harassment charges against many “big” music producers and male singers of the industry by female singers or the lack of importance given to female-oriented songs in the industry. But this lack of recognition provided to the efforts of female leads and models in music videos is another relevant symbol of the industry’s gender bias and male chauvinism, especially evident in Punjabi music videos.
Do you remember the girl who portrayed the character of a girl with disability in the famous “Khaab” video of Akhil? The video got an instant and huge popularity and one of its main reason as expressed by the fans was the “cuteness” of the female lead. And, sadly yet again, there is no single mention of her name in the song’s official video description as well.
Similar is the fate of female leads in other songs like “Blue Eyes” by Yo Yo Honey Singh, “Hornn Blow” by Hardy Sandhu, “Na Ja” by Pav Dharia, “Nakhre” by Jassi Gill to name a few. There are hundreds of such examples in cult Punjabi music videos where titles and description boxes contain everything but the female leads’ names.
Along with the Punjabi music industry, the other trending music scene on Indian YouTube, i.e. the Bhojpuri music industry which thrives on coarse lyrics and videos objectifying women in the most disrespectful way possible; does not lag behind in not giving the due credits to women whom it objectifies so notoriously.
A song with the title, “Biggest Bhojpuri Hit Song- Pawan Singh Luliya…” fails to mention the name of its female lead in its title or description box but mentions everyone else. Another “Lollypop” song (if it can be called so) has similar descriptions.
Though prominently seen in Punjabi music videos, a T-series’ popular video of the Hindi song “Mera Jahan” by singer Gajendra Verma features the famous TV actress Kritika Kamra, yet the official music video has no mention of her in the title or the whole description.
How Does It Happen?
Then, there are numerous instances where female leads name is found in big words in the title of a song, but this case is with faces who have already made a name for themselves in the market; and the industry uses their names in titles for their profits. For example, Guru’s track “Ishq Tera” uses the name of Nushrat Bharucha and ignores the name of the model in his another one of his popular Punjabi music videos’ song “Suit Suit Karda”.
Whatsoever the reason is to not include the names of the female leads in these Punjabi music videos, this is an impediment for all aspiring actresses foraging for better opportunities or hoping to leave a mark in Punjabi music videos.
What Does It Represent?
Artists, lyricists, and other musicians who create a song along with a “big” name in the industry, not getting the appropriate recognition for their work is a perpetual dispute but this sidelining of actresses who portray the role of love interests or female leads in all these prominently Punjabi music videos is a subject of how these big brands and production outlets view women and their contribution as a whole.
Amidst constant objectification, sexist lyrics, and an endless obsession with physical beauty, these music videos have continued to please masses, garner millions of views and forget the same women who contribute to the success of these projects.
This gender-biased approach of production houses puts a question on the overall value given to women’s efforts and work in the industry in today’s time.
This is indicative of how these production outlets, after centuries of women working in almost all the fields of human occupation, still believe that the best a woman can be at is “looking good” and be an object of desire. She might inspire the artist, appeal to millions of viewers but needs not to get the deserved recognition for her work and talent.
It is high time that this cultivated myth, an enemy of dreams and equality, gets smashed. One could start with editing their YouTube description boxes to include the names of these actors.
Pranay Dwivedi is currently pursuing Masters in English Literature from BHU, Varanasi. His research interests lies in Music, Feminism, Gender, and Animal Rights. You may find him on Instagram and Facebook.
Featured Image Source: YouTube