There are times when I’m classy and there are other times, when I listen to Yo Yo Honey Singh. This usually happens at house parties, where the unwritten rule is that once the night reaches a certain hour (Drunk O’Clock), one must drop all pretences of sophistication and flail about to songs that were written under the influence of the nastiest drug possible – being Punjabi.
Thanks to these songs, I’m now aware that Punjab’s number one industry is the Wearing Sungoggal While Indoors industry, and that a woman is a machine that you pour alcohol into until sex comes out. Of course, this is probably the nicest thing that Sri Sri Yo Yo Singh has said about women, or as he likes to call them, <insert pelvic thrust here>.
The song that first made him popular, especially in the college circuit, was an underground hit called… um, sadly, the title is unprintable, but it’s a word often used to describe politicians. It was a lyrical masterpiece that compared certain body parts to aloo pakodas, and was easily the most vile set of words ever put to music. But that minor detail aside, the beat was damn catchy. And that’s been his his style ever since: rubbish lyrics surrounded by a tune that makes you drop your standards. It’s Honey Singh’s way of showing you that a lotus always blooms in filth. Then he grinds against the lotus.
Dancing to Honey Singh is like sucking on a mango or campaigning for Modi – there’s no way to appear dignified while doing it. But that’s the price you pay for jumping around to a song that goes, “Aaj blue hai paani paani paani, aur din bhi sunny sunny sunny”. That song is a work of art. You may think that by rhyming ‘sunny’ with ‘paani’, Honey Singh is trying to give Gulzar saab a seizure, but in reality, this attempt at free verse is symbolic of how Yo Yo lives his life; as a renegade who spits at the forces that hold the rest of us back, like formal education.
He displays similar bravado in his latest track, ‘Chaar Botal Vodka’, which is also his version of a blood transfusion. Here, Honey Singh opens up about his deepest desires as he croons, “I wanna hangover tonight”. So while his rivals are still singing about the fun aspects of binge-drinking, Padmashree Honey Singh has moved on to accepting the consequences of his actions, like a real man. It is truly avant-garde, making Honey the hero that Gurgaon needs, not the one it deserves.
There’s more to Honey Singh than just parties and alcohol though. At least that’s what I gathered from a recent interview, where he said that he started out by writing soulful songs about heroes like Bhagat Singh, but when most of his audience went, “Who’s Bhagat Singh yaa? Is he like a DJ?”, he gave up and wrote a couple of hundred daru-sharu hits (which took him a total of six minutes). I’m just glad that Honey Singh wasn’t around during the Raj, writing songs about historical figures, because that would get weird really quickly:
Honey Singh: (singing)
My kachcha dries
Chhoti dress mein bomb lagdi mennu
PM: Dude, stop hitting on Edwina.
There’s also a Pakistani version of Honey Singh, an imitator and a singer who calls himself – I kid you not – Yo Yo Ali Jaan. He looks like him, dresses like him and sings like him, although it must be difficult to copy Honey Singh songs in Pakistan. You can’t really do a song called ‘Chaar Botal Roohafza’. And ‘Chhoti dress mein bomb lagdi’ is just an unfortunate choice of words. (Fearing legal action over copyright issues, Yo Yo Ali Jaan recently changed his name to – again, this is true – Poko Loko Ali Jaan. It’s sweet how Pakistan steps up and makes us look good whenever we mess up, be it with Honey Singh, or cricket or democracy.)
The trailer for Honey Singh’s Bollywood debut, ‘The Xpose’, also released this week. He stars opposite Himesh Reshammiya, another guy accused of having stuff up his nose. It is going to be a terrible, terrible film, so naturally, I will watch it first day first show. Do feel free to join me. Bring four bottles of vodka.
(Note: This is my HT column dated 6th Apr 2014.)