18 June 2019

Indian electronic music genre is fusing religion, politics

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An Indian electrician arranges loudspeakers during a music festival in the city of Prayagraj. reports citing CNN.

Anyone who doesn't believe in our values and wants to go to Pakistan is welcome to go," cries a voice in Hindi, over a thumping electronic beat. "We won't stop them, we will even pay for their ticket!"

The track, which blends techno and trance, traditional Indian and religious folk music, and political sloganeering -- at another point, a voice shouts "Hail Hindustan!" -- has nearly nine million views on YouTube. Uploaded by a 20-year-old musician who goes by the name DJ Lucky, its title translates as "100% guarantee all Hindu brothers will dance continuously to this track."

This is Bhakti Vibration -- an intense new electronic music genre out of Uttar Pradesh, in northern India, known for remixing speeches by religious leaders, Bollywood stars and politicians, including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. While some of the tracks are focused on Bhakti, Hindu devotional music, others take a far more political, often stridently nationalist tone.

The thumbnail for a track by DJ Sandeep, a musician based in Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh, with more than three million YouTube views, reads "Muslims better stay away," while the title translates as, "After watching this video all Pakistanis will be affected." It samples patriotic Bollywood films and political speeches about sacrificing one's life for the nation.

Despite the strong political overtones of many Bhakti Vibration tracks, including his own, DJ Lucky denies that he is creating anything but entertainment.

"I don't make music to spread hatred, as an artist I make music that the people like and I like," he told CNN. On recent uploads, he's taken to including the all-caps disclaimer, "NO INTENTIONS TO HURT ANY RELIGIOUS or SENTIMENTS OR DISRESPECT ANY PERSON OR ANY VIEW IN ANY ASPECTS."

But to its critics, Bhakti Vibration is anything but harmless. They see it as part of a rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in India, one that has already sparked brutal lynchings and mob attacks.

2019.01.13 / 13:14
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