Think this song is about you?

Think this song is about you?

Billo De Ghar (original version from 2006)

Reuters ran an interesting piece about Pakistan’s popular Bhangra singer Abrar-ul-Haq. The Pakistani High Court has upheld a girl’s request that he remove her name from the lyrics of one of his songs after she complained that male students at her college teased her by singing the song when she passed by. She had been missing classes.

This follows another issue in 1995 when  in 1995, Urdu newspapers began quoting Islamic scholars of Lahore who were of the opinion that the song “Billo De Ghar” was describing a man falling in love with a prostitute and wanting to marry her. Upon the formation of Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N majority government after the 1997 election, the song was banned from state-owned TV and radio channels.

In the early 2000s, his song “Nach Punjaban” was met with opposition from those who thought the casual use of the word “Punjaban” was a demeaning way to address Punjabi women, eventually resulting in Abrar-ul-Haq re-recording a version of the song using the word “Majajan”

It reminds me of a wonderful documentary I once saw where researchers went looking for the original Peggy Sue (of Buddy Holly fame), Emily (from the Pink Floyd song “See Emily Play”) and others. The ones they found were quite happy to be cited. Here’s a fun question: which song character would you most like to meet?

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