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Voice your choice

Palash Sen hopes that meaningful music can make people question what is going on around them.— File PHOTO  

It’s always interesting to watch a music video taking on serious issues confronting society in an entertaining and fun way. At least that’s what Palash Sen’s Euphoria has tried to do with their latest music video, ‘ Halla Bol ’. It comes as a whiff of fresh air in the clutter of sad and romantic numbers showing a young man and woman lip-synching in a picturesque vale abroad.

Like his band’s video, Sen minces no words and shoots straight. “As musicians, it is our duty not just to belt out romantic or sad numbers,” he says. “Being a part of society, we need to express what people think and make a statement. Personally, for me, our foremost duty as a human being is to empathise with others and express our thoughts and feelings.” But does his outlook fit in with the present atmosphere that’s been stifled by prejudice? “Intolerance has always been there,” says Sen. “Otherwise, why did the Partition take place? Why have riots been taking place since time immemorial? I support freedom of expression and the right to speak one’s mind. One is free to criticise politicians, political parties and policies but not the country. The country comes above everything, region, party and denomination.” It seems as if his words suggest that responsible citizens ought to forsake their right to point out the wrongs. But quickly Sen corrects, “No, on the contrary, they should but that should not entail ridiculing the nation as that is what gives us an identity.”

For instance, when it comes to the recent censorship issue of Udta Punjab , Sen says he does not believe the film industry’s version. “There are too many loopholes in the story presented by the media,” he says. “Also remember there are three sides to a story: my side, your side and the truth. So none of us know what really transpired.” Having said that, he adds that ironically, the industry which cribs about censorship, fails to introspect. “Have they ever given a thought to why so many crass films are being produced depicting sex, violence and drugs? Do they spare a thought for the deteriorating lyrics and music?” Sen takes whatever is put out by the media with a pinch of salt. “Everything from political to entertainment news is allegedly paid for or planted. Who do we trust?” Then, there’s Salman Khan’s foot-in-mouth comment on rape. “What was the need to create so much hype?” questions Sen. “Did it really merit so much space? Unfortunately, a notable achievement by ISRO does not get that much of air time in our country. What is the reason for this partiality?”

As for ‘Halla Bol’, its simple lyrics by Sen and Deekshant Sahrawat set to foot-tapping music are very catchy and relatable. Sample the line: “ tharra wohi purana leke, nayi bottle mein daal (old wine in a new bottle)”, conveys what our politicians famously do every five years. Then there’s “ Zara zor se boliyo, yahan naram koi na sunta ” shows how ineffectual are words of sanity spoken softy. The reference to the ‘king of good times’ declaring himself to be pauper is very obvious to the businessmen who have landed several banks in bad debts. There’s tongue-in-cheek humour too. Take for instance, the segment where ‘Breaking News’ appears to be Sunny Deol losing 1 kg weight while another accuses Sen of being sexy and pleading guilty.

Sparing none, the video also takes on politicians, who irrespective of the treatment meted out, continue to indulge in corruption, nepotism and muscle power. It’s equally harsh on the media, it makes fun of news anchors, blowing up non-issues and converting them into national headlines.

Well, this is an era where self-promotion and marketing are essential for success. “Yes, and that is why I want to impress quiet people who do not profess to [lean] left or right to open up. This song is an anthem for this meek populace.” That is why one sees Sen hard selling a megaphone in the video. But will the meek not inherit the earth? Pat comes Sen’s reply, “Yes, provided ignoring all the rhetoric, they search their soul, speak up and launch ‘Halla Bol’.”

The singer isn’t expecting change overnight, but does hope that meaningful music can wake and shake up people and make them question what is going on around them. “Quit accepting whatever is dished out and voice your choices,” he says. “Why should one accept bad films and songs, corrupt politicians and decisions favouring vested interests, diktats of religious heads and businessmen who swindle the country? We need to shed the ‘ chalta hai ’ attitude and don the ‘ nahin chale ga ’ one.”



Why should one accept bad films and songs, corrupt politicians and decisions favouring vested interests, diktats of religious heads and businessmen who swindle the country?

Palash Sen



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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 8:40:10 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/Voice-your-choice/article14408308.ece

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