The release of Gurdas Maan's new song, Punjab, has sent the Punjabi social media buzzing. The song is a critique of the troubled times that the state is facing. Maan leaves out nothing, taking on drugs, selfie addictions, protests, fast food, violence, pesticides, you name it.
While no one doubts his intentions, people are calling him out for the blatant sexism in the song. At one point in the video, Maan seems to be blaming women for "failing to raise their children properly."
The song starts with a 10-year-old Bhagat Singh, who is ready to sacrifice his life for the nation even as a child. Maan, who plays the role of 'Time' in his video, takes the young Bhagat Singh to the future, in 2017, and shows him a Punjab where fast-food has made everyone unhealthy, people are addicted to selfies, men are harassing women, and another man throws acid on a woman. He even invokes the recent case of a female dancer being shot to death at a wedding function. The music video then comes to its most problematic part, one which hasn't gone down very well with many people.
He shows a woman drinking at a party, paying no attention to her son and thrusting an iPad at him when he comes looking for her. She does not want to be disturbed. Cut to the next scene — both mother and son are sitting on a couch together where she is smoking and drinking, while the kid is playing a violent game on his iPad. Maan sings, "Where do you wander around ignorantly... charring your milk with smoke?" The young Bhagat Singh, witnessing all this, is disgusted by what he sees.
While the woman is busy smoking and drinking, the child pops a couple of pills lying on the table. This not only seems like an inaccurate but also an unfair depiction, where Maan seems to be saying that the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Maan's apparent misogyny cannot be overlooked. After all, where is the child's father? Why is it only the woman's duty to babysit? Why is it okay for a man to smoke and drink when it isn't for a woman? Why the hypocrisy? Why are women being blamed more than men?
In an interview with a popular online site, Maan said that he has no doubt that the mother is a child's primary care-giver. As a piece in the Hindustan Timespoints out, Maan does not seem to have the gift of subtlety. A community site, The Voice of Sikhs, says, "An effective message against alcoholism, as a result, is devolved into a finger-pointing charade between both sexes... Cultural degrading of women, which the Sikh Gurus railed against, is surprisingly given no mention." Another site wonders where the man has gone missing and whether he too is enjoying a drink by the same swimming pool while lambasting women for drinking.
As his defense of the video makes quite clear, Maan probably bit more than he can chew.