Ashee Sharma

This Ganesh Chaturthi, Star Pravah and Riteish Deshmukh "Thank God that Bappa is not like us"

The satirical music video, released in collaboration with Mumbai Film Company, reminds one that the true spirit of Ganesh Utsav goes much beyond the insensitive commercialisation of the festival.

Ganesh Chaturthi, the Indian festival celebrated to honour the elephant God Ganesha, brings with it loads of joy, devotion and blessings. While that's the enduring and most important part of the story, there's another aspect of it which is difficult to overlook - the crass commercialisation of the festival's spirit.

To reinforce this aspect, Star Pravah and Mumbai Film Company, a production house owned by Bollywood actor Riteish Deshmukh, have come up with a music video titled '#ThankGodBappa'. Starring Deshmukh and 'Bappa', the over four-minute video was released on August 30, and has since then become quite popular on social media.

This Ganesh Chaturthi, Star Pravah and Riteish Deshmukh "Thank God that Bappa is not like us"

The 'cool Ganpati song', as it is described on YouTube, is sung by the actor himself. The stark black-and-white visuals are accompanied by hard-hitting Marathi lyrics written by Kapil Sawant, who has also directed the video. Amar Magrulkar has composed the music for it.

The song begins with an ode to Bappa's magnanimity...

He visits us; gets cheated

Yet he smiles so cute

1.5, 5, 7, 11 days, you name it

He stays put, without minding it

Thank God Bappa is just not like us.

Interestingly, the lyrics tell us how Bappa is revered in Maharashtra -- as a friend, a guide, and as part of the family. Hence, the song addresses him and God as separate entities.

Going further, the song raises some pertinent questions. Laced with satire, the answers are sure to make us introspect about how greedy and callous we have become. For instance, will Bappa say that 21 'modaks' (a sweetmeat specially prepared during the Ganpati festival) is no big deal these days, thereby implying he wants more? Will he give flimsy excuses for not fulfilling the wishes of devotees or listening to their grievances just as a Lalbaug cop refuses to listen to a complaint from an Andheri resident because it falls under a different jurisdiction? No, he won't. And, why not? That's because he's not like us... "Thank God Bappa is not like us".

This Ganesh Chaturthi, Star Pravah and Riteish Deshmukh "Thank God that Bappa is not like us"

Taking on the ruthless commercialisation of the festival head-on, the song goes on to allege that 'we are using his (Bappa's) name to run our shows'. From Puja combos and discounts, to a display of might and riches, we have done it all to kill the true spirit of Ganesha. But, #ThankGodBappa cares not and is interested only in our well-being.

Towards the end, the video also talks about the awful picture one gets to see following the 'visarjan' (water immersion of the idols), where Bappa, revered for days in our homes, lies broken on the beaches. The video urges that instead of installing Ganesha in every nook and corner of the city, let us carry him in our hearts.

An official response from Star Pravah informs that while the song has Marathi lyrics, it was released with English subtitles so as to appeal to a larger audience, particularly for those online. The 'young and cool' execution was meant to be a socially relevant message for the youth who have been overwhelmed by the commercialisation of the festival.

The video is currently being promoted on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Additionally, it is being touted as a 'Must Watch' on Star's VOD platform Hotstar.

So far, it claims to have reached close to two million viewers on Facebook, and five million on Twitter. While all Star India's Network channels are leveraging their social media presence to promote the song, its reach has also largely been aided by the fact that many Bollywood celebrities are tweeting about it.

The song is also being aired on Star Pravah HD (Star India's Marathi HD channel), and Channel V.

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