Bihar Elections Are Witnessing A Mini Rap Battle Where BJP Just Answered Manoj Bajpayee In Kind
In an unexpected rap song battle, Manoj Bajpayee asked an indirect question but got a direct answer from Bihar BJP.
The Bharatiya Janata Party released a Bhojpuri song recently. The song "बिहार में ई बा" (Bihar mein ee baa; this is what's in Bihar), is a response to questions on what has been done in Bihar, or, 'what is in Bihar?'. Assembly polls are due in the state.
The BJP song, wrapped in rap, is being seen as a response to the rap "Bambai me ka ba". It features well known Bollywood actor Manoj Bajpayee. This song reflects on the migrant crisis triggered by the national lockdown announced to fight Covid-19.
Migrants from Bihar and other states, returned home amid challenges and several difficulties over arduous long journeys from the states and cities of work, including Maharashtra (Mumbai in Maharashtra in particular).
Let's take a quick look at the two raps.
The rap made and released by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been understandably made as, and in a response to, the song featuring the well known Bollywood actor.
The rap from BJP wittily asks for the cleaning of lenses -- "साफ़ करा आपन lens हो" for a better view of Bihar, taking a dig at the original.
Migrant workers emerge as the hero in the visuals as the lyrics suggest that "we" are determined to make 'Dilli' and 'Bambai' here in Bihar. Then, it shows the laptop bearers "work from home".
The other song featuring the Bollywood actor seemingly is an independent work of art -- in response to a perception of a home state. Bihar has not been named directly. The emotion of "home" and its viewing from a distant city of work settles down grandly. The emotion of Bihar as home is a subject of work in visual art and the song has the depictions in place.
BJP's rap uses a question to build the answer. The question: "बिहार में का बा?" What's in Bihar? There is some tossing over "का बा" in the initial sets of seconds into the video.
This, in particular, is a powerful beginning to the rap -- visually and in the use of words. Courageous and conveying -- it uses "what's in Bihar?" as a precursor to the answer with the help of powerful and seemingly inviting visuals.
Later, it uses a persistent answer to spread the song. The answer is: "बिहार में ई बा " -- This is in Bihar. The stress on "this" ("ई") rides on several visuals of structural and developmental changes in Bihar, backed by supporting visuals that reflect people's confidence in their home state.
The BJP's song is an election campaign song. Simple in approach, it draws the inherent message -- that Bihar has changed, is transforming, shall transform towards the better, with work, change, improvement in the different sectors under the NDA government.
The song featuring the Bollywood actor focusses on him. It's filmed on him.
The BJP song, barring a couple of known faces (one being Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself), features several faces of the ordinary and unknown man -- representing people from all walks of life.
These are happy-people faces and a variety. There are the proud-of-Bihar faces, the looking-forward-to-future faces, and the "proud-of-home-faces". Overall -- a sense of pride in Bihar from those who live and work in the state.
The contrasts are between the view from within, and the view of the insider from the outside.
This is where the two raps separate in character, lyrical tone and layers in visual language.
Superiority in production and set is not, should not, be the criteria in judging the two because the two raps have different, starkly different creative purposes.
The viewer cannot deny the subtle (excellently subtle) use of politics in the presumably 'non political', decently dramatic version, shot like a movie song. A pistol and newspaper clippings appear. Curiously, one newspaper clipping shown in the song's video appears to be from a neighbouring. . . Never mind. To the entertainment industry placed in one state, the two states often appear as one -- in stereotypical portrayal.
The visual impressions are excessively familiar -- fresh in the viewer's visual memory -- they are repeated often and return often.
There are dominant undertones of a cynical view. The staple "baayen haath ka khel" of great method actors trained in theatre and Shakespearean drama, when one lets them be themselves in the right amount of darkness and the right amount of light. It's there. का बा?
Back and forth between nostalgia, taking a dig at the system, missing home, feeling dejected on the account of politics and politicians, pained but going about the job, yet exploring that beauty of it all. Smoke and water.
To the other version. The viewer cannot miss the witty theatrical, the crisp language winner, in the non-arty-farty, version. It's to the point, positive in language, has "improvement" and "work" for pivot, plays catch up with the "art" in the original version but mischievously, in control of purpose and language, a step ahead of the original.
What would these raps achieve?
Their respective audience.
On the cultural Left. And within the cultural right.
The one that gives the answers will have limited longevity and a tangible purpose on social media.
It could solve the purpose of serving as a playback to rallies and bringing some cheer in Covid times. As a background. A smart response to the original having tangible use. A reminder that the cultural right can respond to art and make good originals (as seen in a previous assembly election).
On the other hand, the one that plays on a question and allied ironies, in dark than light, over the distance of home and work city, will stay on longer. Its inherent Hamletian beauty and to-be-or-not-to-be dilemma, the great method to art, that neat camera work, has culture claimants and those that claim that 'art' and theatre reside in the cultural wings of one ideology.
It has the power of staying on the headphones and social media discussions without being directly claimed by any particular political party.
Those who find and appreciate beauty in long dwelling questions more than nascent answers to improvement and transformation may find the BJP song repelling. "ई बा"
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