The Hard Line


In 2013, along a backing beat and violin, Birmingham-based rapper Kaur crooned these lines on Coke Studio @MTV in Kattey — a song produced by ace composer Ram Sampath — and gave us a glimpse into her life. In previous interviews she said she took action against her stepfather, who would beat her mother and made sexual advances at her, and handed him to the cops. Advertising

Born as Taran Kaur Dhillon in Kanpur, Hard Kaur moved to Chandigarh to her maternal grandparents’ home after her father’s death. She was not just stylistically interesting; she was making a point about her life and using a cultural reference to do so. In the UK, the 10-year-old Kaur was bullied at school for being different — she didn’t speak proper English and was Indian. Eventually she grew tough, got into hip-hop and left the coy girl she was behind. This week, Kaur’s social media posts on RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has led to an FIR by the UP police, after a complaint was made by Varanasi-based lawyer Shashank Shekhar. Through the song, Kaur created a unique world. In 2013, came Coke Studio, where she finally spoke about her life through rap. And after performances in London, she cut her debut album Brathe and crooned, We’re not born for cornershops and 7/11s/ Your country’s shit/ You took all our jewels/ Your Queen is dead. She was in the news for her post after Gauri Lankesh’s murder in 2017 where she said “won’t let your killers go”. She wrote more. At 15, she began performing at the famed nightclub The Dome in Birmingham and word spread about an Asian girl rapping her heart out. It worked but not for the market. Till then Kaur had entertained us with popular commercial numbers such as Move your body with Shankar Ehsaan Loy in Shridhar Raghavan’s Johnny Gaddaar (2007) and a couple of numbers in Patiala House (2011), among others. In Kattey, she sang, Chose my weapons wisely, you can’t break me/ 93 I found the sound that would save me/ For every single time my stepfather tried to rape me/ Man you don’t know what music gave me. Kaur, in the past, recounted that her mother was coerced into marrying a Birmingham-based, older businessman. So she took to Bollywood and Hindi lyrical hooks that she didn’t sound comfortable singing. The complaint has been recorded under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, etc), 500 (defamation), 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of IPC and section 66 of IT Act. Kaur was referring to the 1984 riots, a year after which her depressed father committed suicide. Kaur has had a complicated life and many stories to tell. With Rajasthani folk artiste Bhawari Devi, who was singing a devotional Pabuji ki phad, Kaur struck a chord. But Kaur found commercial success with the pieces she created. 0