Pravin Uttam is too busy to entertain a phone call. It’s been a little over a month since he released Hello Kaun featuring Uttam and his wife, Khushboo. Having garnered more than 330,000 views on its YouTube channel, the song inspired a flurry of similar Bhojpuri songs, making ‘coronavirus’ songs a sub-genre of Bhojpuri songs. Designed as a conversation between a wife and her China-returned husband who appears to have contracted the virus, the song was (by Uttam’s own admission) their artistic expression to raise ‘awareness’ about coronavirus.
1. What inspired you to make a song on Coronavirus?
We’re always on the lookout for such fiery topics. Whether it is Triple Talaaq or Ram Mandir. We first heard about coronavirus during a TV debate a few months ago, where we learned about how fatal it is.
2. How has the response been?
We’ve been getting a mixed response. Some have told us how it’s wrong on our part to make fun of something that is taking lives. But some people are appreciating the messaging of the song. Why do we watch plays after all? It’s because they raise awareness about the issues around us. We’re only trying to get across the message that it is spreading amongst our friends and families.
3. How has the song performed on your YouTube, compared to your other songs?
It’s done okay. We have many songs that have hit about 50 million views, compared to that this one’s done alright. We have lots of popular songs, even though not all the songs are hits. But on an average, our videos get about 100,000 views.
4. From thinking about a melody to penning the lyrics, how much time does it take you to produce one song?
There’s no emphasis on melodies in Bhojpuri songs, there’s generally one hit melody based on which most songs are made. When something is in news, there isn’t a lot of time to think. There are days when the turnaround time is about three hours, and sometimes it takes upto five days to release a song. For ‘Hello Kaun’ – we took a day or two, because at first even the writer wasn’t sure what we were doing in the song. He wrote some ulta-phulta lyrics, after which I had to step in and correct it according to our local language.
5. Do you take any responsibility while making a song on something that’s causing widespread panic?
We have no major responsibility. If there’s a virus that is being spoken about on news channels, newspapers, and so many people are explaining how to save themselves, will they die only after listening to my song? All newspapers, channels and publications in general are carrying news about how many people died because of coronavirus, and we’re using our artistry to do more of the same… aren’t we? And it’s all done from the point-of-view to raise awareness, so I don’t see any problem.
6. What do you think of the rest of songs on coronavirus that followed, once you released your song about a month ago?
We didn’t see the rest of the songs, it’s not like we’re glued to YouTube to see what Guddu (Rangeela) ji or someone else is putting out. We just keep an eye out for the trending mudda on our TV. It all comes from a piece of news, right? Something that has been covered by Aaj Tak, do you think ABP News or any other publication will not pick it up? We all have our own individual style, we’re all artists in our own right… we can all have our own interpretations.