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  • Virendra Narain

The Ballad of Bant Singh: Kapil Seshasayee's Musical Tribute to an Unsung Hero

Kapil Seshasayee's "The Ballad of Bant Singh" is not just a song; it is a powerful tribute to an unsung hero in India's history. Bant Singh, a laborer from Punjab, achieved something extraordinary when he took on powerful men in court who had sexually assaulted his daughter. Despite the odds stacked against him due to the Indian caste system's systemic corruption and violence, Singh emerged victorious, securing life sentences for three of the culprits in 2004.

However, his triumph came at a great personal cost. In a cruel act of revenge, Singh was brutally attacked, resulting in the loss of both his lower arms and left leg. Confined to a wheelchair since then, Singh has not let his disability dampen his spirit. He has become a relentless campaigner against caste discrimination, shining a light on the deep-rooted social ills that persist in Indian society, even beyond its borders.

"The Ballad of Bant Singh" serves as a vehicle for Seshasayee's powerful message. As the artist himself explains, the song has been reworked to fit the lush R&B-meets-Indian-Classical crossover sound of his second album, "Laal." The fusion of genres creates a captivating sonic palette that draws listeners in, charming them into engaging with the song's underlying themes of nationalism, censorship, and disability rights.

While the original version of the song captivated audiences during live performances, fans were left yearning for a recorded rendition. Finally, Seshasayee has answered their call, releasing the reworked version on his latest record. By doing so, he ensures that Bant Singh's story, and the ongoing conversation surrounding the horrors of the Indian caste system, remains relevant and continues to resonate with people worldwide.

"The Ballad of Bant Singh" not only pays homage to a brave individual but also raises awareness about the plight of countless others who face discrimination and injustice due to their caste. Seshasayee's choice to blend Indian classical, fusion, and Punjabi folk with electronic textures reflects the album's overall sonic progression. With echoes of renowned producers SOPHIE and Arca, the song takes on a new dimension, further amplifying its emotional impact and emphasizing the urgency of the message it carries.

Through his music, Kapil Seshasayee elevates the story of Bant Singh, giving voice to a hero who defied the odds and continues to fight against injustice. "The Ballad of Bant Singh" stands as a testament to the power of art in shedding light on social issues and inspiring change.

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