The makers of upcoming Bollywood film Khaali Peeli, recently launched the item track, called Beyoncé Sharma Jaayegi, starring Ishaan Khattar and Ananya Pandey. In barely three days, the music video has raked attention, but for all the wrong reasons, recording over five lakh dislikes on YouTube.
The song, which has been composed by the famous musical duo Vishal-Shekhar, starts with a groovy beat that is sure to get you intrigued by the song. The lyrics are about the boy professing his love for the girl, rather unthinkingly, but the problem begins when we hear the chorus which goes like, ‘Bhadhkeeli, Nakhreli, Chamkili, Nachkili, tu jo kamiriya heelaayegi, tujhe dekh kar goriya, Beyoncé sharma jaayegi’.
At a time when the Black Lives Matter has picked momentum globally, with many from the Bollywood fraternity lending support to the movement, it is uncanny how words like ‘Goriya’ (literally, a lighter-skinned woman) continue to surface in songs repeatedly. In Beyoncé Sharma Jaayegi, a comparison is drawn between the dance moves of the boy’s love interest, who he refers to as ‘Goriye’ and the pop sensation Beyonce.
Beyoncé is not just a global icon but a champion of the Black Lives Matter movement, not to forget the music videos she has made celebrating women of colour.
The song has been chastised heavily by netizens for perpetuating a standard of beauty which is based on one’s skin colour. A barrage of tweets and memes flooded online, @nayeemiqbal_ tweeted, “Bollywood hitting new levels of low after hitting rock bottom. Using obnoxious lyrics, skin colour, and comparing her with #Beyonce. Utter disappointment again”.
Another user @RajviDesai31 wrote, “This is just blatantly ignoring the fact how they’re glorifying fair skin (yet again) and then comparing it to Beyoncé (a black woman). This is RACIST”
The blight of racism and colourism pervades all sectors and industries but it becomes more problematic when it is perpetuated by Bollywood, one of the most followed industries, which in turn manifests itself into popular culture.
The standard of beauty is moulded and ingrained into our psyches when we are constantly flooded by content which is valorising these regressive standards. One of its consequences is that it renders a woman into a spectacle to be judged not by her achievements but instead by her appearances.
Following the Black Lives Matter movement, many Bollywood celebrities lent their voice to the movement, their support was heavily criticised, as most of these celebrities have been guilty of endorsing fairness creams.
One is then left to wonder about the responsibilities that content creators and the consumers have upon themselves to not further these biases. At this point more than ever one has to be extremely careful of the use of semantics, as innocent as they may sound, can take a toll on a woman’s confidence. Time and again one has to be reminded beauty is cultural, what is admired in one society, in another may be looked down upon, hence it is of paramount importance that the pool of Bollywood talent stops relying on these archaic notions of beauty, borrowed from the colonial era.
Having said that, Beyoncé Sharma Jaayegi is not the first Bollywood song to have used the term ‘Goriya’.
There have been popular songs like Chura ke dil mera goriya chali to the recent kaala chashma jachda ae, jachda ae gore mukhde te where this word has been used, and a lot of us have been found guilty of grooving to these tracks without a second thought. This is reflective of how deeply ingrained these notions are.
One cannot expect an overnight solution to a problem that has been seeped deep in our mindsets, but as a responsible and cognisant citizen and content creator, one has to learn to make conscious efforts to put their work under scrutiny, be more open to dialogues, and gain insights from it. Like in the case of this song, the furore that has been created will hopefully make the creators introspect and lead to socially inclusive content.
You can watch the music video below
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