On one hand Coldplay’s music video ‘Hymn For The Weekend’ is topping the hit list of iTunes India and becoming more popular in the country each day. However, on the other hand the British band is engulfed in a controversy of cultural appropriation.
Coldplay’s music video is a compilation of India’s image in the west. The video depicts temples, saffron clad ascetics, peacocks, heritage ruins and a wharf with tiny fishing boats. Kids are running on the streets playing with coloured powders and jumping off into rivers. Movies are being watched on outdated technology and Beyonce is depicted as a Bollywood star in exaggerated jewellery that covers much of her face. Even Sonam Kapoor who is usually impeccably dressed is sporting a vibrant saree and a questionable nose pin.
Sonam Kapoor defends the video by saying that, what is shown, does exist in the country. Sonam is not completely wrong when she makes such a statement. However the irking factor is the creation of India’s image on the basis of certain nuances which are exotic for the Western world. For years western society has carried prejudiced notions about India and the music video while just there for entertainment purposes is capitalising on those missguided beliefs.
While dingy slums and cows on streets are a part of India, there is much more to this land, than these myopic perspectives. Indians are making remarkable progress in the fields of science and technology. They are successfully launching satellites in space. Indian fashion designers are dressing up even the First Lady of America. India has educated, well-fed and good looking people too and they are leading a normal life, more or less like their western counterparts. Unless you come with an agenda to see the unseen in India, you will not witness what was shown in the music video.
With the heated debate on the social media, a journalist tweeted "Why does the white man not get it? India 2016 is not a land of snake charmers."
India is not shying away from accepting the culture depicted in the video, as its own. However it demands a portrayal of its reality too. No country wants to be known only for the negatives or the long lost past. The young nation working towards development, would appreciate acknowledgement for its progress over the representation of stereotypes.
Whether you agree to India’s portrayal in the music video or not, Coldplay is benefitting from the debate that it has invoked. The hits on YouTube for the music video just prove that. Additionally, the music is sure to win you over.
Image source: www.twitter.com