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Humble Honey?

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Joined: 10 April 2013
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Posted: 25 June 2013 at 11:58am | IP Logged

"Chitrangda Singh is a Goddess" - Honey Singh

Indian rapper Honey Singh talks to Filmfare about his journey to fame, his controversies and how he aspires to be India's answer to Michael Jackson

Written By
Raedita Tandan
Written By Raedita Tandan
Assistant Editor
Posted Fri, Jun 21, 2013
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Admit it. If there's a Yo Yo Honey Singh song playing in the background, you will either hum the lyrics or groove to its beat. Some unabashedly enjoy his music; others cringe at his lewd songs. While he is the name behind hits like Brown rang, Angrezi beat, High heel, Main sharabi, Dope shope, he is supposedly also infamous for the song Main Hoon Balatkari. Many have even gone to the extent of calling him a misogynist among other unflattering things. More so, after the Nirbhaya rape case last year.

While I'm on my way to meet Honey Singh, all sorts of thoughts cross my mind too. 'Did he write the song? Did he not?' And I confess, I enjoy his music. It makes me want to get up and dance. But the question is, can I think of him beyond that song? As sceptical as I am, one cannot deny his massive popularity and talent.

For Hridesh Singh (his real name) to come from a small town in Punjab and achieve international fame in a short span of six years was no easy task. And that too as an independent artiste, without the backing of the Hindi film industry.  Not many know that Honey Singh is actually Kareena Kapoor's discovery. She was the one who heard Angrezi beat at a nightclub in Dubai and told hubby Saif Ali Khan to consider him for Cocktail.

I am sipping coffee at a suburban hotel in Mumbai when the rapper enters. He smiles warmly and says instantly, "Please don't ask me why my name is Yo Yo Honey Singh." Before I can react, he states, "See, it's simple. When I started making independent music a few years ago, international artistes like Akon and Eminem were big in India. Though our wannabe youth couldn't understand a word in their songs, they sung them. And when I'd ask people why they liked these songs, they would say, 'Feel the music man, it's so cool'. So I stopped rapping and making music for others and decided to make my own music, which would have the style of Akon, Snoop Dog (now Lion) and Eminem but the lyrics would be in Hindi and Punjabi. I changed my name and added a Yo Yo in front of it to give it a relatable touch. Luckily, International Villager worked." And now, people not only listen to Akon, Snoop Lion and Eminem but also to Honey Singh. "That was my intention," he states. "I wanted to replace these artistes. Now Indians also understand rap lyrics." Five minutes into our conversation and I know... Honey Singh is a man who speaks his mind. Says he, "According to me, I am the biggest superstar. Meri mummy ki nazar mein bhi there's no bigger superstar than me. My mother is the one who always encouraged me to make music. Though my music is targeted at the youth, my mom enjoys it. My dad thinks my music is okay but my mom loves my songs. I have told her that in the next three years, I'll be wearing a tuxedo and accepting a Grammy with her on stage. By singing a Hindi, Marathi, Punjabi or Telugu song. An Indian song. Not an English one," he emphasises.

After saying this, he characteristically breaks into a little rap.
"Undh randh moon,
Utha le apna phone, Baj rahi hai teri baby Kolaveri tune.
From Mumbai to Marina, Asin se leke Kareena,
Sabke BBM pe PING
Aye, who is this Honey Singh?"

As I burst into a fit of laughter, Honey explains to me why he rapped those lines. "Honey Singh will be the one to get India the international fame that the Black Eyed Peas got Philippines with Bebot bebot and Psy got Korea with Gangnam style. Even if a brown skin person has a good accent, he's a wannabe if he sings in English. My music has reached everywhere in the world. From the natives in New Zealand and Australia to people in Nigeria and Kenya and all the way to Guwahati. They don't understand the lyrics but an international director, who came to offer me a project, told me they feel the vibe. So I am doing abroad what international rappers did in India. And soon, I'll do it better, Inshaallah."  

It's Honey Singh's no-nonsense attitude that seems to have clicked with the masses in general. Despite all the controversies around him, he's minting money, making music, living life. And that's proof enough that someone out there truly loves him. "I felt bad when I was surrounded by controversies," he says, sincerely. "But I was confident that my fans' opinions wouldn't change. These millions of people haven't become my fans after Angrezi beat or Lonely. They have been following me for years now, since the time I've been making Punjabi songs like Luck 28, etc. They know how I am, they know who I am. They know what I can or cannot do. I have only been working all these years and I guess yeh un logon ki karni hai, jo samajhte hain ki yeh chhora naya aaya hai, isko rok dete hain kisi tarah (My naysayers thought I was a newcomer so I could be stymied by controversies)," he takes a breather and adds, "I can assure you one thing. Jo main kar sakta hoon, kisi ka baap nahin kar sakta. Aur woh hai imaandaari se kaam (No one can do what I can and that's work with sincerity). I don't get involved in politics or put people down. My focus is only on how to reach the top."

Though Honey Singh's concert in Delhi got cancelled last year and a police case was filed against him because of allegations that the unflattering song, Main Hoon Balatkari was his, he didn't clarify anything. Says he, "What was the point in clearing the air? I let them talk. When all these allegations were leveled at me, a friend told me, 'Beta, agar Amitabh Bachchan banna hai, toh seeti aur laat, dono khani padengi (if you want to succeed in life, be prepared for bouquets and brickbats)'. It's a superstar's life. Sab kuch milega. You just have to be prepared for it."

The outrage even spilled over to the Hindi film industry, when some producers, directors and actors went up in arms against him. "Let me tell you something," he cuts me in, "Ekta Kapoor called me a few days back. She wanted two songs for Ragini MMS 2. And because I couldn't do the songs, she even asked me if she could use my number with Jazzy B, This party's getting hot. I don't care about what she and the others said about me. They are big people and so, they need to give statements according to the situation."

Needless to say, he cares a damn about his image. "What's an image? Image hamesha ek fake aadmi ki hoti hai (It's a fake man who has an image). A superstar always has an aura. So I don't have any beep image, I got an aura because I'm a f#@%&*% superstar. I've even written a song called Baby I'm a superstar," the singer reiterates with pride.

Honey Singh's lyrics have time and again come under the scanner for being too bold and offensive. But he begs to differ. Says he, "I am the voice of our country's youth. I am not a saint that people will quit alcohol because of my songs or do drugs because of them. Today's youth is intelligent. They know what they're doing and they know what they want. I am just a voice who sings what he sees happening around him. My lyrics don't have a literary content. My lyrics are not poetry. I write street lingo," he asserts. "Even when you sit with your friends, ek aadhi beep toh chalti hi hogi na? (You must be using abusive language, no?) Times have changed. People's way of communication has changed. So people are not talking like that because I am singing such stuff. I am singing these songs because people talk like that. My lyrics aren't offensive or bold. Today's society has become bold."

As we chat about the society and his music, the conversation slowly veers to relationships. And he's rather pumped up about the topic. "You know, I have 562 girlfriends," he states with a mischievous grin. "But I can leave them all in one day if I get Chitrangda Singh. Chitrangda isn't from earth. She's from Pandora. Woh ek alag planet se hi hai, she's that beautiful. I have written a rap for her too," he laughs, and instantly breaks into another small jig.

"Maana tujhse pehle maine kaiyyon ko phera hai,
Kaiyyon ko apne jaadu mein ghera hai,
Par aaj, agar, tu haan kar de,
Toh bhagwaan ki kasam, phir yeh Yo Yo tera hai"

Hold your horses. So in love is Honey with Chitrangda that he doesn't mind even adopting her son, Zorawar. "I love kids. You don't know how well I'm going to take care of her son if she becomes mine. Kids love me too by the way. Uske husband (golfer, Jyoti Randhawa) ko bhi main samjha dunga (I'll explain things to her husband). She's a Goddess yaar."Trade the arc lights on his future plans in the industry and he declares that he may never become a full-fledged movie composer. "It's tough to make film music. It depends on the mood, character and story. I can't make music according to someone else's whims. So I'll compose two or three songs for a film. At least for now. And I'll never act. Our Hindi film industry is full of legends. There's Akshay Kumar, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan and Amitabh Bachchan. But India doesn't have a Michael Jackson. I will give India their very own Michael Jackson."

He ends our chat with one of his proudest memories of last year. "According to the report on the most searched artistes on Google and YouTube in India in 2012, I was No. 1. All over the world, Gangnam style was No. 1 but in India, it was Brown rang with Gangnam at No. 2. High heel was fourth on that list. So I had two songs in the top five." Well, love him or hate him, you sure as hell cannot ignore him.

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