Amritsar: At Suraj Pawan’s shop in Amritsar’s Shaheed Bhagat Singh market, hang kites adorning postcards of various Punjabi singers like Karan Aujla and Babbu Mann. But it’s only one singer that’s really driving the shop’s sale— Sidhu Moose Wala.
“Love you. Miss You,” with Moose Wala in the middle, or a photograph of the singer with a gun, or simply 295 — his famous song—are currently Punjab’s favourite design.
“I have lost count of the number of kites I’ve sold. I think I’ve sold close to 10 lakh Moose Wala kites,” said Pawan, one of the proprietors of the shop, who also claims to have pioneered the Sidhu design on kites.
The starting price of the kites is Rs 5, with the proprietors claiming they’re not making any profit on Moose Wala kites. “If someone buys 25-30 kites, they want at least five of them with Moose Wala on it,” said another shopkeeper Suraj Kumar. The kites are printed in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur and Bareilly, but the demand is equally high in Delhi as well.
Not everyone is happy with Moose Wala’s photographs on kites, though, including his father. One Gurpreet Singh, who was buying kites for his retail shop, said he finds it disrespectful. “Moose Wala is a legend. People are even more crazy about him after his death. Some even wanted rakhi with his face on it. But his photograph shouldn’t be on a kite, which people will walk on. It is disrespectful. Even his family has taken offence,” he said.
Moose Wala, the truly international rapper who was criticised for glorifying gun violence in his songs, has attained a martyr-like status in Punjab. His murder in May 2022, just two days after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) withdrew his security, has been one of the main driving forces behind the worsening law and order situation in the state.
After his death, not only Gen Z and Millennials but older generations have also started jamming to his beats. “He was a poet of our times. I discovered his music after his death. He talks so highly of Punjabi culture and, unlike other artists, his lyrics aren’t filthy. That’s why every Punjabi remembers him fondly,” said Kar Singh, a 65-year-old farmer.
“Moose Wala has glorified the turban around the world. It has spread the world of Punjabiyat. He was one of a kind,” said the shopkeeper Gurpreet Singh, a shopkeeper in Amritsar.
Shopkeepers whose sales have skyrocketed say Moose Wala’s death has increased the demand for anything associated with the singer. Suraj Kumar said customers don’t want to buy anything if they don’t get a Sidhu Moose Wala kite. Kumar has also become a fan of his music now. “I never heard his music before and even discouraged my kids. But now I have discovered his art and I really like it,” he said, adding that the singer “was killed for telling the truth about the nation”. “He is our heartbeat. We want to keep his memory alive,” Kumar said.
Also read: Kites featuring late singer Sidhu Moosewala on high demand in Ludhaiana
Moose Wala fever
Kites are the flavour of the season before the festival of Lohri, but Moose Wala is everywhere — in ambient music in market places, on T-shirts, bags, key chains and radio. Punjabis are not only showering love on him, but reverence as well.
In his death, Moose Wala has become what Princess Diana had become for the United Kingdom. He has been elevated from celebrity status to the status of a hero. People have deep sympathy for his parents who lost their only son, and have respect for Punjab’s only truly international pop sensation who brought glory to the turban.
70-year-old Joginder Pal, owner of a school bag shop, said that bags with the late singer’s motifs have been in demand this season. “After his death we started getting printed bags from Delhi. Right after his death, people wanted to buy bags with Sidhu Moose Wala on it. I sold 300 of them in a month.”
Yogesh Mahajan, who sells apparels in a market near Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, said Punjabis only wanted to buy T-shirts with the 295 singer printed on them. “People have gone completely crazy about him. He was a good human being. A great artist. He promoted Punjab across the globe. Of course, people love him,” he said.
Not only local customers, retailers from all over the country come to Mahajan’s shop to buy Moose Wala products. One such customer was Charanjit Singh from Kota, Rajasthan. “There’s high demand for Moose Wala napkins, key chains, pencils, temporary tattoos and apparel. That’s all kids want. Moose Wala is everywhere in Kota. We are earning a lot of money by selling these products,” he said.
Moose Wala lives on, having attained what few artists do, even if posthumously.