FEMINIST REMIX

Who doesn’t love singing or humming along to dhinkchak, catchy Bollywood tunes like ‘Sheila ki Jawani’ or ‘Munni Badnaam Hui’? But how often do you stop and listen to the lyrics of these chart-topping hits? If you listen attentively, you will see that they are quite demeaning to women. Many songs, such as the two mentioned above, objectify female bodies and normalize sexual harassment.

Do we quit listening to Bollywood songs? No, of course not, they’re so catchy! Instead of boycotting the songs, why not change the lyrics? That’s exactly what Akshara did in collaboration with our partners, One Billion Rising India, Ek Saath Campaign, and Girls Count. We decided to encourage young people (the largest consumer demographic of Bollywood) to re write the lyrics of popular sexist songs.

 

ABOUT

The idea of Gaana Rewrite was to converge creativity and gender consciousness. Akshara wanted to challenge young people to think about what these popular songs promote or condone – harassment, stalking, and even violence – and remix theminto songs that celebrate women’s agency, freedom and equality. This is a challenge to one’s imagination and creativity whilst simultaneously raising gender conscious and awareness.

Gaana Rewrite Competition

THE PROCESS

At the beginning of December 2016, we put up this poster advertising the Gaana Rewrite competition and an application form on our website and Facebook page. We created a set of gifs and short video clips of young people explaining why they found Bollywood songs so offensive and posted them to our Facebook page and circulated them on WhatsApp.

TISS student explaining what she finds offensive about Bollywood songs: https://www.facebook.com/AksharaCentre/videos/1356710587732657/

Our partners spread the word to their constituents across the country. Akshara sent 25 volunteers to visit over 100 colleges all over the city to inform young people about the competition. We held informational orientation events at 20 colleges and workshops to help students rewrite the lyrics. The panel of judges was selected based on their entertainment and/or social justice expertise and renown. It consisted of Rahul Bose, actor, director and activist; Syeda Hameed, ex Planning Commission member and activist; Jyoti Mhapsekar, founding member of Stree Mukti Sanghatana and playwright; and Raj Shehkar, lyricist.

RESULTS

Akshara and its partners were able to successfully spread the word not just in Mumbai but nationally. In just a month and a half, by our January 15th 2017 deadline, we received a whopping 450 submissions! The judges reviewed the entries and selected the winners:

Manisha Gupte wrote alternate lyrics for Naa Jao Saiyaan

2nd. Sadaf Vidha wrote alternate lyrics for Tu Mere Agal Bagal Hai (Khali Peeli)

3rd. Nishat Kraghanthala wrote alternate lyrics for Laila ho Laila

3rd. Ravi Jaiswal wrote alternate lyrics for Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast

In support of the competition, advertising agency O&M produced a music video that highlighted sexual harassment using the alternate lyrics from competition entries.

Here are some powerful images from the video of women taking back public spaces and combatting the sexism they face with lines from the remixed songs:

 

Gaana Rewrite Competition
Gaana Rewrite Competition
Gaana Rewrite Competition

In February 2017, the Kala Ghoda Festival showcased the music video. The awards ceremony that followed at The Boston Butt, as part of the festival, saw Rahul Bose presenting the winners with their cheques in front of a full house. Singers, Nayantara Bhatkal and Praveen Done, performed the winning remixes to a cheering audience; their performance was live-streamed on social media.

Judge Rahul Bose with three of the winners

Judge Rahul Bose with three of the winners

Lyrics of winning remixes and original songs:

Original song: Naa Jao Saiyaan
Naa Jao Saiyaan
Na jaao saiyaan, chhudake baiyaan
Kasam tumhaari main ro padungi
Machal raha hai suhaag mera
Jo tum na honge, to kya karungi
Original song: Tu Mere Agal Bagal Hai (Khali Peeli)
Khali peeli khali peeli rokne ka nahin
Tera peechha karoon toh tokne ka nahin
Khali peeli khali peeli rokne ka nahin
Tera peechha karoon toh tokne ka nahin

Haan tujhpe right mera
Tu hai delight mera
Tera rasta jo rokoon
Chaunkne ka nahin

Original song: Laila ho Laila
Laila main laila aisi hoon laila
Har koi chahe mujhse milna akela
Jisko bhi dekhu duniya bhula doon
Majnu bana du aisi main laila

Ho ye kaise hain lamhe
Jo itne haseen hain
Meri aankhe mujhse
Ye kya kehrahi hain

Original song: Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast
Tu cheez badi hai mast mast
Tu cheez badi hai mast mast

Bol jara tu jaane mehboobi,
Mujhme aisi kya hai khoobi,

Tu ek resham ki dor dor,
Teri chaal pe ashiq mor mor

Teri julf ghani chit chor chor
Ghan ghor ghata mad mast mast
Tu cheez badi hai mast mast

Remix: Naa Jao Saiyaan
Naa manu bhaiya pado bhi paiyaan
Kasam tumhari mein toh ladungi, mein ladungi
Kuchal rahe ho, jo khwaab mere
Jo tum kahoge, kyun mein karungi?
Naa karungii
Remix: Khali Peeli, Khali Peeli
Khali peeli khali peeli rokne ka nahin
Duniya ko theek karein tokne ka nahi
Khali peeli khali peeli rokne ka nahi
Patriarchy bhagayein tokne ka nahi

Hain jeena right tera
Tu hai equal mera
Tera rasta na rookon
Ab darna nahi

Remix: Lailo ho Laila
Naari oh naari
Aaj ki naari
Duniya badal de
Aisi yeh naari

Mardo se kandha ahhaaa
Milakar chalaye… ahhaaa
Baba ki lathi
Yeh banker di khaye

Remix: Tu Cheez Badi Hai Mast, Mast
Mein ladki badi hu sakt, sakt
Mein ladki badi hu sakt, sakt

Sun le jara tu meri jubaani
Mili mujhe bhi jeene ki aazhadi

Mein ek jwaala ki aag, aag
Jal jaayega agar aaya paas

Chal haath badhayein saath saath
Aur todein yeh haalat aaj
Mein ladki badi hun sakt sakt

IMPACT

The competition went national and viral, and the response was overwhelmingly enthusiastic and positive. The favorable coverage by multiple media outlets, such as Logical Indian, Ladiesfinger, Huffington Post, Youth Ki Awaaz and The Quint magnified the reach of Gaana Rewrite[see links at the bottom of page].The O&M video sparked dialogue in the cyber world of Facebook with many people engaging with the campaign by commenting, sharing and liking the video; the video was viewed over 6 lakh times and liked over 50,000 times.

Gaana Rewrite coverage in the media:

Akshara intends to redo the competition next year with high hopes for greater participation and reach, given the success of the first iteration. Ideally in the future, Akshara will be able to include an advocacy element with, and within, Bollywood. By involving the Bollywood, we go directly to the source and can affect change from within. We all love Bollywood, but Bollywood, aap aisa kyun nahi likhte? Through Gaana Rewrite, we hope that together, we can all make Bollywood a space that celebrates women and their rights.

NOT THE END…

Akshara intends to redo the competition next year with high hopes for greater participation and reach, given the success of the first iteration. Ideally in the future, Akshara will be able to include an advocacy element with, and within, Bollywood. By involving the Bollywood, we go directly to the source and can affect change from within. We all love Bollywood, but Bollywood, aap aisa kyun nahi likhte? Through Gaana Rewrite, we hope that together, we can all make Bollywood a space that celebrates women and their rights.

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For any query please write to gaanarewrite@gmail.com or call for queries +919004569833

Gaana Rewrite Competition

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