“BEYONCE SHARMA JAYEGI” Reflects The Racial Undertones That Persist in Bollywood

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With groovy ‘youthful’ beats, the recently released item number, Beyonce Sharma Jayegi from the upcoming film Khaali Peeli is highly problematic for carrying racist undertones. The song, penned by Kumaar and Raj Shekhar, is garnering dislikes in huge numbers. It already had 273k dislikes and mere 44k likes when it was last checked.

Sung by Nakash Aziz and Neeti Mohan, the song was released this Sunday on the YouTube channel of Zee Music Company. Twitterati soon pointed out the racist subtext and translated the lyrics for highlighting Bollywood’s obsession with fairness.

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The refrain that is the hook line of the song goes like this:

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Tujhe dekhke *goriya*

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Beyonce sharma jayegi

which literally translates to “On seeing you fair lady, Beyonce will shy away.”

Netizens are feeling second-hand embarrassment on the so-called Bollywood standards after listening to the song. Social media is flooded with discomfort and awkwardness. Surprisingly, no one from the entire production team anticipated the disaster that was bound to happen while putting “Goriya” and “Beyonce” together in the same line and that too for comparing beauty and alleged sex appeal.

#BeyonceSharmaJayegi

A simple Google search bears testimony to the fact that Hindi Cinema has had a plethora of songs containing similar words. Dark skin color has always had almost explicit connotations of being ugly, evil and/or villainous in the Hindi Cinema. Let us remind ourselves that it was not long back when the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement had taken the world by a storm due to the police brutality in America. Many Indian celebrities were also called out for promoting fairness creams and related beauty products. In addition to this, the song has incidentally come out in a period when the nepotism debate in Bollywood is at an all-time high. The film features Ananya Panday and Ishan Khatter, who both belong to film families. A few weeks back, the trailer of Sadak 2 became the second-most disliked video on YouTube as the film featured Alia Bhatt, Aditya Roy Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt in lead roles (and also because it had nothing substantial to offer).

A Twitter user also pointed out that a song by Beyonce, called Brown Skin Girl featured a dusky Indian woman to reflect on the beauty of the brown complexion. On the contrary, what Bollywood has to offer is a song that says Beyonce will shy away because she is not fair in complexion?

It is important to note here, that the song is composed by the musical duo Vishal – Shekhar. Ironically, these are the people who have previously worked with Akon in the making of a classic hit Chammak Challo in the movie Ra-One.

Even if for a moment, we keep the racist lyrics aside (while never disregarding that it promotes colourism, of course), the song still fails to impress. The lyrics and the musicality do not seem to be in synchronization with each other. There is essentially no value to the words used overall. The choreography, however, done by the Bosco-Caesar duo, can be appreciated at the least.

Bollywood needs to re-think, re-analyze and re-formulate its standards. While the world moves towards a more liberal society, a premier source of entertainment and mass communication with far-reaching effects, cannot stick to the conventional, racial, obsolete, patriarchal and hetero-normative norms and biases.

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Namit Gupta
Jack of all trades | Political Enthusiast | Hopeless Romantic | Cinephile | Theist

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