The rise of the DJ in rural UP: From weddings to political rallies no event complete without one

DJ in rural UP is serious business. Most DJs have hi-tech sound systems and playlists for all occasions. The wedding season – November through early June –is peak season for DJs. People book their DJs in advance and the DJs don’t let their clients down. For DJ Hemraj, the profession is a ‘junoon’ and for his colleague Raju its good business; each booking gets him Rs. 10-12,000.

Khabar Lahariya May 31, 2018 15:14:46 IST

‘Do you want DJ?’ Wonder what this ad is doing in rural UP? Well, we’ll have you know that no event can run without a DJ here. It’s what Faizabad’s first DJ had told us, about two years ago.

From political rallies to sarkari programmes, you can’t get people excited without a DJ in the heartland. But the lion’s share of the bread and butter of DJs come from birthday parties and weddings. Gone are the days of the soulful shehnai and the loud trumpet, “it’s the raunchy Bhojpuri numbers that put a spin on wedding processions”, says Pramod, a young DJ from Chitrakoot’s Angarhunda village. The brass bands and players have been replaced by the banjo, the deck and DJs, says Rajan, who has witnessed this cultural shift in rural Bundelkhand.  

DJ in rural UP is serious business. Most DJs have hi-tech sound systems and playlists for all occasions. The wedding season – November through early June –is peak season for DJs. People book their DJs in advance and the DJs don’t let their clients down. For DJ Hemraj, the profession is a ‘junoon’ and for his colleague Raju its good business; each booking gets him Rs. 10-12,000.

“We bring the vibe and set the atmosphere with our music. Of course, alcohol is what gets most people to groove, even those who don’t dance otherwise”, shares a giggly DJ Hemraj. ‘Raja ji baja baji ki na baji’ is among the popular Bhojpuri songs, we’re told, but Bhangra and Bollywood are evergreen, according to most DJs. Daler paaji does well at all parties and people love Amitabh Bachchan songs as well. But most DJs will also tell you that they have songs befitting every mood, every occasion and sometimes, every client!

With this cultural shift in the last decade, it’s the men that have taken over, both as DJs and as the clientele for this cultural craze. And this has affected the women. Since women are the subjects of sexually explicit Bollywood numbers, they shy away from the dance floor. “Jaise hi Munni badnaam hui aur Sheela ki Jawani Jaise gaane lagte hain, purushon ki jhadi lag jaati hai (As soon as these item sons start playing, crowds of men take over),” says Khabar Lahariya’s Digital Head Kavita, giving us her feminist analysis of this business. The DJs also tell us about all the drunken brawls at wedding parties, adding to how unsafe women feel, “They’re not comfortable with the songs, the manic dancing or the atmosphere.”

Regardless of how women feel, DJs are in great demand in rural UP.  Everyone wants a DJ and its good returns with some initial investment. Most DJs in small towns and rural areas are able to make a decent profit from the profession – enough to last them through the rest of the dry year.

Khabar Lahariya is a women-only network of rural reporters from Bundelkhand.

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