Mockery or a real cultural embrace?


A Pakistani fish-seller’s song, One Pound Fish, has hit cyber space. Shahid’s addictive tune was caught on camera and has become a viral hit. Many are comparing the catchy song with ‘Gangnam Style’. But how long will Psy and Shahid’s videos be popular and how long will they remain in the minds of Indians?

Recently when Psy performed at the American Music Awards, many bigoted tweets were doing the rounds, asking him to go back where he came from and why a ‘chi***’ was performing at an American music event.
The number of hits that are seen as appreciation many would argue aren’t a genuine embrace. And perhaps a more well-marketed and promoted momentum which is unintentional yet potentially a mockery of a foreign language and a comic character.
Ad guru Prahlad Kakkar believes that this stems from ignorance. “Indian parents still freak out if you say you want to marry someone from a different culture! So, foreign lyrics being laughed at or a character being the butt of all jokes is nothing unusual.”
In fact, it’s the nonsense that’s the great leveler, preventing it from getting personal or malicious, for, as hip hop artiste Tamizhan Adhi says, “People will comment on everything, you can’t generalise them as racists. Many Indian mock Justin Bieber and the band, One Direction, in nasty ways, but that hasn’t diminished its popularity in India.”
Insecurity and lack of exposure or sensitivity are at the root of such criticism, according to psychiatrist Dr. Deep. “When people forget to relate to the music, they talk about the musician. Asians are becoming powerful globally, and so insecurities may exist in other racial groups.”
Or like Henry James said, “Trust the tale, not the teller”, one has to allow the music speak for itself. Says Sreeram of Indian Idol fame. “What makes Psy popular is the uniqueness of his song and his dance moves. As long as the music connects to the audience, it’s guaranteed to be a hit.”

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