HomeIndian AmericanRacist Bollywood song Beyoncé sparks controversy

Racist Bollywood song Beyoncé sparks controversy

Beyonce via Wikimedia Creative Commons by J. Ebey

In an upcoming Bollywood movie featuring actors Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khatter, a song titled Beyoncé contains words which translate to “Beyoncé will feel insecure after seeing you, fair-skinned lady.”

The colorist rhetoric has led Indian fans online to apologize to the African American singer, Vice reports.

The song, written by Kumaar and Raj Shekhar and composed by Vishal-Shekhar, was released on Monday on Youtube as a part of the promotion for the upcoming film, Khaali Peeli.

The movie is directed by Maqbool Khan, according to Hindustan Times, and will debut October 2 on pay-per-view service Zee Plex.

The YouTube video of the song garnered more than 7 million views within the span of three days, with more than 652,000 dislikes. Many of the video’s 140,000-some comments also criticized the themes of racism and sexism and apologized to Beyoncé.

Many other internet users alike condemned the song, stating that obsession with fair skin is a continuing issue in the Bollywood film industry.

In The Print’s op-ed titled Bollywood’s love for fair skin runs so deep that even Beyonce couldn’t escape it, Tina Das wrote that it was good to see the song continuing the conversation about colorism and sexism in the industry.

“Perhaps the only heartening thing to see is that unlike in the past, when Indians consumed such racist, tasteless songs without a hitch, a section of people today are calling out the song for what it is — Bollywood, and by extension most Indians’, continued love for fair skin tone,” the author stated.

Speaking to Vice, Nandita Shah, co-director of Akshara Centre, said the film is particularly harmful because its intended audience is teenagers. The film risks promoting racist and misogynistic ideas to younger generations, she added.

Akshara Centre is an NGO that has previously published a video that reimagines popular Bollywood songs with non-sexist lyrics. Shah said the main issue was acknowledging that the song in Khaali Peeli is racist and fostering awareness.

“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 told Vice. “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.”

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