The video I REALLY want you to watch is Video #3, but I need to explain a few things first because more than just the music and dance styles are getting mashed up, but cultural styles and influences are converging to create new forms of expression.
In the Punjab region (in India as well as Pakistan), the musical and dance tradition of bhangra is a deeply connection to local customs, religions, and traditions as they vary in different regions. The coming of spring, weddings, and ceremonies were known for large-scale bhangra dances which are tailor-made for audio-visual extravaganzas. In 2008, the song Aaja Ni Aaja was released and through online channels it became linked to a larger, global audience.
Decades earlier, Elvis Presley was the biggest name in Rock ‘n Roll and was becoming a cross-over star, appearing in movies with infused with some of his hits. The 1957 movie Jailhouse Rock made a hit song out of the song of the same title, infusing African-American blues and Southern Country.
Both of these bits of cultural context are necessary for understanding the following cultural production that is embedded in the video below (finally! the video I really wanted to share). It’s an ingenious mashup that combines the audio of a bhangra song with Elvis’ video. At the core of the mashup is the idea that incredibly distinct cultural productions are not so incredibly different after all and the commonalities in many cultural expressions exhibit universal impulses. Music and dance, like all cultural expressions, are not authentically pure representations for one place and time, but have many influences and can diffusion in so many ways. Enjoy the “If Elvis were Punjabi” video!! (And how did I find this? On social media of course).
BONUS CLIP: I did go down a few rabbit holes writing this post to get some of the cultural context that I was missing and it was helpful for me to understand the South Asian culture more. India’s movie industry, a.k.a. Bollywood, has been the perfect platform to make many local, folk cultures to become more prominent and accessible to a larger, and more geographically dispersed audience. Below is a video showing some of the differences between traditional bhangra dance moves with a more modernized Bollywood version.