‘Beyonce Sharma Jayegi’ Is Bollywood’s Latest Racist Offering
A look at the latest Bollywood song composed by Vishal-Shekhar for the movie ‘Khaali Peeli’
God, where do we even begin with this one? Let’s start at the beginning – yesterday, Zee Music Company released the new song from Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khatter starrer, Khaali Peeli called “Beyoncé Sharma Jayegi.”
The title itself caught the eye of the internet because can you imagine Queen B being embarrassed about something? Like what does she have to be embarrassed about? Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is easily one of the most renowned names in the history of music. One of the world’s best selling artists, Beyoncé has sold over 100 million records worldwide and is the most nominated woman in Grammy Award’s history. In 2014, she became the highest-earning black musician in history and has also won the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award which is given to artists who’ve left a profound impact in the field of music.
But Beyoncé is not just a musician, is she? She’s also a record producer, actress, filmmaker, and the best live performing artiste we have right now. She runs the world and has been a vocal advocate of the Black Lives Matter movement that has seen a massive resurgence globally following the death of George Floyd in police custody. In fact, her song Formation which she performed at the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show was an iconic moment in the history of the Super Bowl because the performance was a homage to her black roots and the history of her people.
Beyoncé spoke out against the withdrawal of protections for transgender students in public schools by Donald Trump’s presidential administration in 2017 and has been a vocal advocate of LGBTQIA+ rights.
This is not even half of the impact she has had on the lives of millions of people.
And yet, Khaali Peeli‘s new song, “Beyoncé Sharma Jayegi” treats her like some half-wit who’d be embarrassed of Ananya Panday’s dancing skills. Then, we cannot negate the clear racism in the song – the actual lyrics are “tujhe dekh ke goriya, Beyoncé sharma jayegi“.
Really? It’s 2020 and we’ve had Bollywood celebs sharing posts on BLM (while blatantly ignoring the police brutality in India) and we still have songs that use the word that is meant to hype up fair-skinned people.
Now, it’s unfair to criticize Ananya Panday or Ishaan Khatter over it – they probably weren’t aware of the song when the signed on to the film, and Panday, being a full-blown millennial must have been mortified (or at least we hope she was).
But what were Vishal and Shekhar thinking? Or the lyricists Kumaar and Raj Shekhar? Did no one see the hate that was eventually going to come their way? Did no one see the racism in the lyrics or is Bollywood as dumb as people make it out to be in prime-time debates on national news channels?
Bollywood hitting new levels of low after hitting rock bottom.
Using obnoxious lyrics, skin color and comparing her with #Beyonce . Utter disappointment again. pic.twitter.com/FQW7HVd2pD
— Chaos. (@nayeemiqbal_) September 7, 2020
We are sorry for this. pic.twitter.com/MGZQDoaaiC
— Bunny (@Bunny_I_) September 7, 2020
Last year, actress Bhumi Pednekar was criticized for the use of brownface for her character in Bala, and actor Hrithik Roshan was also called out for the same in Vikas Bahl’s Super 30. In fact, one of India’s ‘woke’ filmmakers, Zoya Akhtar even addressed the brown-face concerns surrounding her award-winning film Gully Boy.
In an interview with Huffpost India, Akhtar stated that Singh’s face had indeed been darkened but only because he had come back from a holiday in the Maldives and “came back looking toasty”. She further elaborated that the intention wasn’t to make Singh look darker and that she is not a “brown-facer”.
As of publishing this article, the music video has over 2,10,000 dislikes on YouTube.
In an interview with CNN, film director Neeraj Ghaywan minced no words when asked about the culture of brown-face in Bollywood.
“It’s actually racism,” he said. “Let’s not mince our words.”
And, really, lets not. “Beyoncé Sharma Jayegi” is not just an embarrassment of a song but is also racist. Here’s hoping the creators take note. But then again, we wouldn’t hold our breath.