A time, when the Dalits face unspeakable discrimination and atrocities based on it, 17-year-old Ginni Mahi aka Gurkanwal Bharti is raising her voice in tune with the circumstances and asserting her identity with pride.
A time, when the Dalits face unspeakable discrimination and atrocities based on it, 17-year-old Ginni Mahi aka Gurkanwal Bharti is raising her voice in tune with the circumstances and asserting her identity with pride. Hailing from a community of Jatavs in Punjab, Mahi wears it as a badge of honour. Ginni Mahi is known as the voice of ‘Dalit Pop’ in the country. She is a Youtube sensation with close to a lakh followers. According to the Indian Express, Mahi is currently preparing for the release of new Sufi track on Bulleh Shah and Guru Nanak Dev in a couple of months. Her songs are mainly focussed on Sant Ravidass; the founder of her sect and Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar and the talks about her community.
Mahi has also expanded her options in the matter of topics as she is working on issues of female foeticide and the Punjab drug problem. Though Mahi has been singing since she was 8, it was her two albums in the past year, that put her in the big leagues; Guru Di Diwani and Gurpurab Hai Kanshi Wale Da. He singles such as Fan Baba Saheb Ki and Dangar Chamar, particularly brought her into the limelight.
Dangar Chamar, as suggested by the name is a song based on her caste, where she tries to bridge it down stating that the member of the community are dangerous only when they are pushed into it with grave injustice.
Talking about the caste system, Mahi cited the example of Ambedkar and said that Baba Saheb spoke for all of the equality, not because he was a Dalit, but because he was an Indian. She salutes his fighting spirit and praises his fight against the injustice meted out to the minorities. Mahi puts “Bharti” as her last name to show her Indian identity.
While she is definitely the first of her kind, she is the first to gain such a large audience. Though her father Rakesh Chandra Mahi remains cautious and asks Mahi to select her lyrics very carefully and not sing on political platforms. He remains wary of the crimes committed on the Dalit community and likes to stay as far away as possible from political controversies. Women empowerment is another subject she addresses in her songs. She has openly expressed her dislike for the current crop of Punjabi singers who she thinks, degrade women in their songs. She urges girls to come forward and oppose such songs. She remains quite troubled by the Punjabi pop culture and movies that enforce casteism and discrimination. She is of the opinion that the Jat identity promotes only one segment of the society and the crowd buys it without hesitation.
Mahi was 8 when her father, took notice of her singing talent and enrolled her in Kala Jagat Narayan School in Jalandhar. There she began her journey with singing seriously and regularly. Mahi is currently as a student of Music at Jalandhar’s HMV College and is a regular teenager with an obsession with Justin Beiber and Michael Jackson. She idolises legends of the Hindi film industry like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, Shreya Ghosal and Sonu Nigam and aims to become a playback singer in Bollywood. She holds and head high and gladly says that an artist has no caste.