Book Review: ‘H-Pop’ by Kunal Purohit

H-Pop Unveiled: Navigating the Shadows of Hindutva Pop Culture in Modern India

Book Title: H-Pop: The Secretive World of Hindutva Pop Stars
Author: Kunal Purohit
Publisher: HarperCollins India
Number of Pages: 306
ISBN: 978-9356995826
Date Published: Nov. 22, 2023
Price: INR 323

H-Pop by Kunal Purohit Book Cover

Book Review

Kunal Purohit, an award-winning independent journalist, documentary filmmaker, and podcast creator, delves into the unsettling world of Hindutva Pop, or H-Pop, in his thought-provoking investigative book, “H-Pop: The Secretive World of Hindutva Pop Stars.” The rise of this genre, characterized by catchy tunes and acerbic lyrics, serves as an alarming backdrop to the strained relationship between Hindu nationalists and Indian Muslims.

Purohit’s exploration takes readers beyond the mainstream urban media, uncovering a brand of popular culture quietly infiltrating the hearts and minds of millions across India’s towns. From provocative marches by right-wing groups to kavi sammelans and the pervasive influence of social media, H-Pop is creating societal acceptability for Hindutva’s core beliefs. Through clever integration into popular culture, it normalizes Islamophobia, demonizes minorities, and vilifies critics without making headlines.

The author profiles some of H-Pop’s most prolific creators, posing critical questions about their motivations. Are these creators driven by ideology or commerce? What motivates the audience to consume their daily dose of bigotry? Purohit’s investigation reveals the frightening face of a New India—one united by hate and divided by art.

In three meticulously researched case studies from the Hindi heartland, Purohit connects the dots between the rising popularity of right-wing leaders and the role of popular culture. The book critically analyzes the content produced by right-wing-supported ‘pop stars,’ prompting a deeper understanding of the youth psyche and the influence of social media on public perception. It opens Pandora’s box, highlighting the need for further research in this unexplored area.

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Purohit’s work stands out as one of the most fascinating and insightful books of the year, offering top-quality reportage in a previously overlooked research area. The author effectively highlights the rising popularity of right-wing leaders and the integral role of popular culture. The book is essential reading for researchers, students, media professionals, and ordinary citizens seeking a nuanced understanding of the complex dynamics shaping contemporary India.

While the book underscores the dangers of religious extremism and draws parallels with historical propaganda, it also faces criticism from some readers. Some argue that the book demonizes Hindutva and its social media impact, attributing it to the bias of the “eminent journalists” class. Despite differing opinions, Purohit’s work emerges as a crucial exploration of the social media phenomenon behind the rise of Hindutva, providing valuable insights into a complex and polarising aspect of Indian society.

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