Mumbai: Bhangra-pop singer-rapper Honey Singh claims he is a victim of a vicious smear campaign launched by his rivals to finish off his rising career as India's foremost live entertainer.
Shaken and nonplussed, Honey didn't know what hit him when, on Monday hours before the new year was ushered in with telling somberness, he was targeted viciously for his allegedly anti-woman misogynist songs, especially a number offensively titled "Main Hoon Ek Balaatkari".
The song's title and "message" have offended a nation reeling under the impact of the heinous gang-rape in Delhi that took the victim's life last week.
A virulent campaign to boycott Honey Singh and his music was launched on several micro-blogging sites. An FIR was also lodged against Honey for obscenity in Lucknow. To top it all, on New Year's eve Honey's proposed concert in Gurgaon had to be canceled due to pressures from the outside.
Fearing for his life, in a startling revelation made exclusively to this writer Honey Singh claims the offensive song is not his at all.
"I swear on my music, I've neither written nor sung those offensive songs. I'd never dream of singing a song in praise of rape. The thought is nauseating to me. I'd rather give up singing than attain popularity in such cheap and cheesy ways," he said.
"I respect women...What I am going through is another form Of rape," Honey Singh said.
Honey says the song has been released on the internet by an imposter. "I've sent notices to Youtube and other websites which have uploaded the offensive number. I am shocked that such a song could even be believed to be mine. I come from a family where women are respected. And I'd never disrespected women by espousing rape."
Honey also claims that the other obscene song entitled "Ch..t" which has been floating on the internet for years under his name is not his.
"I completely disown both these obscene numbers. I've nothing to do with them. My lawyers are trying to find out who's doing this to malign me. I'm being targeted for a rape of another kind altogether.What is being done to me is among the lowest of violation of human dignity," he said.
Honey says the smear campaign is being undertaken by jealous rivals. "They can't bear to see a villager from Hoshiarpur like me become so successful. My fans know the truth. I'd never disrespect women. I have been brought up to treat women with courtesy and dignity," he said.
The worried rapper who is popular in north India finds the timing of the tirade against him to be suspicious.
"Just when the country is reeling under the impact of the ghastly rape crime a song about rape is being attributed to me. And another song that I have been fighting for years to have removed as my doing, is in the public eye. I am being targeted for wrongs that I didn't commit," he said.
Honey feels he is being made a target to divert attention from the real issue.
"Atrocities against women are happening all around us. Why are my songs suddenly being seen as a root-cause of evil? If music could actually cause damage shouldn't songs like 'Bande Mataram' and 'Ae mere watan ke logon' prevent Indians from hurting fellow-human beings?" he asked.
Angry, hurt, wounded and perplexed by the sudden swerve in his career Honey said: "I'd request politicians to stop diverting attention from the actual issues that effect the country. Please stop resorting to soft targets like singers and musicians as scapegoats. If anyone can prove I'm behind those anti-women songs I'm ready to give up music."
Meanwhile sources close to the musician say Honey Singh has been receiving death threats and is under the constant vigilance of his personal security staff.
Honey is under the moral scanner not only from a nation in no mood for anti-women pop-culture, but also from his own family.
"I come from a business family. I rebelled from my father to become a musician. Now after hearing of these filthy songs my father called me up to ask, 'Beta, did you take to music to do this kind of thing?' I'd never shame my family, my country, the women of my country and myself," he said.
Tell him that his songs have gone ultra-viral since the scandal broke out Honey retorted: "I'm sorry. But I am not interested in getting cheap popularity. I've earned my success through sincere hard work."
"And that's the only success I want. Do you know I've sung a song about Bhagat Singh? How come no one knows about this song? Why are we only interested in scandalous controversial things?" he asked.
Honey says he knows the people behind this smear campaign launched against him. "I'm a village boy who has gone international. Other singers trying the same haven't been able to achieve the same. They are unhappy with my success," he said.
"Today when I see musicians sitting judgement over my music, asking for my ban, in panel discussions on television I feel sorry for them. I'm sorry to say they're just exploiting the memory of the girl who was a victim of that heinous crime. My fans are with me. They believe in me. That's all that matters," he said.