Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday’s latest dance number “Beyonce Sharma Jayegi” from their upcoming movie Khaali Peeli seems to have left netizens disappointed, with many criticising the lyrics for being racist.
Lyrics — Chamkeeli lachkeeli tu jo kamar yeh hilayegi, tujhe dekh ke goriya Beyonce sharma jayegi (which translates to “after looking at you fair woman, Beyonce will feel shy”) that triggered an outrage among netizens, with many calling out the song for its racist implications.
Beyoncé is a global symbol of Black pride and body positivity. She has featured South Asian women in her music videos, and promotes inclusive representation.
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The song also has sexist lines that talk about “gaudy women” with “lots of tantrums”, and moving their “waists.”
“It’s unthinkable to make a song like this in 2020, when the world’s biggest brands are removing the word ‘fair’ from their products,” Nandita Shah, co-director of Akshara Centre, an NGO that launched the campaign to rewrite problematic Bollywood songs, told VICE News in an interview.
“Bollywood has worked out this formula for what sells at the box office. The justification for these [controversial] songs is that the ‘audience wants it’,” she said. Shah acknowledged that the main issue was a lack of awareness to recognize why such song lyrics were wrong. “With songs like this, we’re negating body positivity and inner beauty, and saying that a woman’s body and skin color are the only things that can attract a man’s attention,” she said.
“It [song] also features young actors, which means fans who watch this video will mostly be teenagers,” she added, pointing out how this could potentially propagate racist ideas on impressionable minds.
“When you make a song like this, you’re normalizing ideas that don’t deserve to be normalized,” Sucharita Tyagi, a film critic, who often views films from a gender equality lens, told VICE News in an interview.
Tyagi points out how songs with problematic lyrics are packaged using catchy tunes, colorful visuals, and enthralling dance moves, which then reach a wider audience at weddings and nightclubs. “Songs like these are essentially great tunes with a subliminal message that white skin is better.”
In 21st century when the world is battling to fight for racism and protests have evoked in all parts of the world to normalise every skin colour, this song coming from reputed duos like Vishal Dadlani is a shame.
20 times Grammy award winner Beyonce has often received criticism for not paying her merchandise labourers fair pay but criticizing her for her skin colour is no justified.
(With inputs from Indian Express, VICE)