Music is omnipresent in our lives. Be it working out, be it waking up, be it travelling – music is everywhere. Plato once said, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything”. Truly, music does that and much more to our minds and souls. Not only is there music to soothe a broken heart or to celebrate little victories there is also music to motivates us to get through a bad day, to helps us sleep better or even help us get out of our beds each morning – the music of the alarm clock.
There are so many genres, songs and styles we choose from. As per a blog posted on A Journal of Musical Things on June 12th, 2018, “… a thousand songs are uploaded to Spotify, Apple, Google Music, Napster, Dezzer, and the other streamers every hour. That’s 24,000 songs every day and 1 million tracks every six weeks. Extrapolating further, we’re talking about almost 9 million added to the streamers’ catalogues every year”. That’s a lot!
But among all of these songs, a style that has particularly started standing out lately is the one talking about feminism and feminist issues. This style or genre has given us something to talk about, and a much-needed break from the usual references to women as “bitches”, “hoes”, objects to be chased and sexualised and other such derogatory terms. Which is why I am making this listicle of my top 6 feminist songs that have made a difference, according to me:
1) Patakha Guddi (Highway, 2014)
With overtones of freedom, this song has definitely made it to this list. There are not enough songs that have such themes – ones that urge women to be carefree and energized. Sung by the Nooran Sisters, Patakha Guddi has some of the most beautiful lines that represent freedom. The line “maine to tere utte chhaddeyaan doreyaan [I have left the strings with you]” tells us about how nothing should weigh the kite of our lives down.
2) Dhaakad (Dangal, 2016)
Dhaakad is all about being unfettered by anyone and anything that is putting you down. The movie and the song are all about breaking through the net of patriarchy, of inhibitions and challenging and pushing yourself to be the best ‘you’ that you can be. May this song be the one that shows the strength within you, to anyone and anything that hinders your growth!
3) O Ri Chiraiyya (Satyamev Jayate, 2012)
Women struggle throughout their lives and different problems await them in each phase. O Ri Chiraiya is that one rare song where women are thanked for all that they have done for others, for all that they have gone through and never asked for anything in return. Sung by Swanand Kirkire, this song gave me goosebumps the first few times I heard it. It was one of the first feminist, pro-women songs I had heard.
4) Dhunki (Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, 2011)
When we talk about headstrong women, this song definitely comes to mind! A strong-willed Dimple (played by Katrina Kaif) is seen with an electric guitar being a carefree rockstar – a perfect representation of women with freedom shining into their lives. This is one of the few songs that depict carefree and bold women just badass-ing their way through life, unlike most films wherein such women are shown as being ‘transformed’ into sanskaari beings when their significant others reject them.
5) Mann Ke Manjeere (2000)
I came across this one relatively recently when I started e-volunteering with Breakthrough India. When I heard this one, I realized that it was one of the very few songs that talked about domestic violence back then, probably the only one out there. Being a 90’s baby, I was only a year old when this song was released as an initiative to start a conversation about women’s causes. This song knows how to grip you and it embraces you like a warm hug on a cold day. Be it the lyrics or the tune or the video, Mann Ke Manjeere is the catharsis you need when the world pulls you down. Shubha Mudgal’s powerful voice only adds to the experience that this song brings about.
6) Bekhauff (Satyamev Jayate, 2014)
In the episode that this song features in, a very important conversation was started about increasing violence against women. The numbers haven’t gone down, as we know. The song, sung by Sona Mohapatra, composed by Ram Sampath and written by Svati Chakraborty, comprises some beautiful lyrics that show the kind of world we as women want to live in. In our ideal world, we wouldn’t be scared of stepping out of our shells, we wouldn’t be scared to step into a room full of men, we wouldn’t have to carry pepper spray or learn self-defence because that is the kind of safety we’d feel. The vocalization of this desire of ours and the penning down of this desire so appositely is the reason I love this song so much!
May these feminist songs make us stronger and help us shatter the patriarchy!
Also Read: Five Bollywood songs, Consent and Women
The songs featured here are not comprehensive. Suggestions to add to this list are welcome in the comments section.