Remember how sneaky Coldplay were in Mumbai recently to shoot a video? Well, it’s out now and the internet (like always!) has a lot to say about it.
Coldplay released the video of Hymn for the Weekend featuring Beyonce from their new album ‘A Head Full Of Dreams’ on Friday and soon accusations of cultural appropriation started flooding the internet.
Now I, a fairly proud Indian, saw the video and the first thought was – beautiful! But well, let’s look at some of the reasons why Coldplay and especially Beyonce – who plays a Bollywood actress in the video – are drawing so much flak. The complains are that Beyonce is dressing in the garbs of a culture she doesn’t belong to, which is basically cultural appropriation by definition and that, Coldplay conveniently took some parts of the Indian culture and used it to represent as a whole feeding stereotypes.
But Beyonce putting Heena and wearing traditional Indian jewelery or Chris Martin playing Holi doesn’t seem all that problematic to me and here’s why.
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In a video set in India, if Chris Martin was gushing over Beyonce dancing like she was in Drunk in love, through a periscope or otherwise, well that would just be a NO. But as the Bollywood actress ‘Rani’ she fits in seamlessly. Yes, it’s not her culture, but, so? That doesn’t mean she can’t play a role in her own song. Also, in no way does she up the extravagance of our film industry, even with the golden lip color (those in doubt Google “Shweta Shetty”). Plus, Queen B on Team Bollywood should always be a yay, but that’s just the fangirl in me speaking.
As for the rest of the video, I agree Holi is a cliche for foreigners trying to depict India but its not the worst thing. But even so, it continues to be an indispensable part of our culture. Martin’s video shows India in all its glory. The peacocks, the periscope, the puppets, the behrupiyas, the yellow and black cabs with colorful interiors, everything shouts India. For anyone getting their shields up to fight for India’s image to be more than that rural-ish image, look at the kids locking and popping their way through the video.
India is more than these things, sure, but all these are also the things that set our culture apart. Steve McCurry doesn’t come to India to capture an entire population grappling to adopt the Western culture, and neither did Martin. So maybe we could take a step back and lower our defences to appreciate the video for what it was meant to be. Art for art’s sake, right?