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Bhangra pop travels from Punjab to Poland

By Surender Bhutani, IANS

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Bhangra pop has made the journey from the heartland of Punjab to Poland, charming people in this country who now easily rattle off catch phrases like "Chak de Phatte" and the ubiquitous "Balle Balle".

Though it hasn't attained the popularity it enjoys in Britain, Bhangra pop is slowly spreading among the Poles, especially the younger generations. Many of the country's radio stations play Bhangra tracks through the day.

Malls and discos also blare out the lively music. Though most listeners do not understand the lyrics, they hum along and move in step to the music.

Said Kasia Sosnowska, a lecturer of sociology at the Warsaw School of Economics: "I am an admirer of this kind of music. Earlier I loved Arab remixes and now I like the beat of the Bhangra. I know that this trend will not last for long...

"It is part of the globalisation process which Poland is undergoing these days after the fall of communism in the early 1990s."

There are others who are happy the music is promoting an interest in Punjab.

Anna Sieklucka, a part time lecturer of the Punjabi language at Warsaw University, is one such person.

"Earlier the very word Punjabi did not create curiosity. Now people call me to find out more about Punjab and its culture," Sieklucka told IANS.

Polish youth also get to hear Punjabi music on Channel V and MTV, and names like Malkiyat Singh and Talvin Singh, among others, have become quite familiar.

The success of films like "Monsoon Wedding" and "American Desi" have contributed to the new-found interest in such music. How long the craze will last remains to be seen.

But for now, the going is good and sales of Bhangra pop are rising.

Polish woman Ania Bem lived in India for a few years and got exposed to Indian culture.

She said: "The very rhythm and beat attract you to the dance floor. These days what is the meaning of a dance? Just start jumping and hugging your partner and everyone is thrilled.

"Bhangra pop has all the ingredients to enjoy an evening. No wonder Bhangra pop is now spreading like a flu epidemic in Poland.

"Three cheers for Punjab and 'Balle Balle' to Punjabis in South Hall of London, who took it from Karol Bagh of Delhi and polished it with modern requirements and made it almost a universal success.

"As long as Bhangra pop lasts, let us say in Poland -- come on 'Kudi Gujarat di' or 'Chak de Phatte, Punjabi Puttar'" Bem said, winking at her Punjab-born husband. He just chuckled in response.


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