When Kanwar Grewal takes the mike, he is greeted with deafening cheers that brim with expectation. At Singhu, on Delhi’s border, where farmers’ protest has blocked the NH44, Grewal is a hero. Dressed in a white kurta-pyjama, with a red zippered jacket, he waits for the applause to subside before singing his latest hit Jawani Zindabad .
It’s an ode to the youth of Punjab who have left the comfort of their homes and showed up in support of the protesting farmers. The song transforms the image of a defamed young Punjab suffering from drug abuse to one filled with purpose and idealism.
Ajj jung jado chhedi, Jehde kehndi si nashedi, Ajj ohi banda tenu saab saab karda, Zindabad ni jawani... (Now when the battle’s started, those who called you addicts salute you).
The song that released on YouTube on December 8 has already clocked over 1.7 million views.
Grewal is just one among a crop of young Punjabi singers from farmer families to capture the imagination of the protest. “I always had a keen eye on the reallife issues which could be expressed through my music,” the 35-year-old from rural Bhatinda says.
At the protest site, there is also 29-year-old Bir Singh from Tarn Taran who has trained in folk, kirtan and classical music. He belts out: “ Mitti de puttro ve, Aklan nu taar laga ve...” (Sharpen your minds, sons of soil).
“I want my songs to make the youth so empowered and strong from within that they don’t wait for a messiah to save them,” says Singh.
Music has always been used to voice political dissent right from the rousing freedom anthems to the more recent musical outbursts at the anti-CAA protest sites.