British rock band Coldplay released its third music video from their new album, A Head Full of Dreams, late on Friday night and it’s already a hit in the virtual world.
While the rest of the world was taken in by all the colours in it, Indians seemed to be unhappy with all stuff Indian. To start with, their complaint was ‘Where is Sonam Kapoor?’ Well, she was indeed there, but didn’t get as much screen time as we would have liked.
Sonam aside, the band is being accused of bigger things like appropriating Indian culture and not showing the reality. Oh please!
While we thought that accusing artists of appropriating cultures was a first world problem, it seems to have seeped into Indian minds and tweets as well. Here are some examples:
Good to see that the Western gaze still sees India in the same slumdog way. Bravo Coldplay.— greatbong (@greatbong) January 30, 2016
Holi,slum kids,gods,exotic local woman throwing flowers in air for no reason-#Coldplay breaks all grounds & paths in representation of India— Fatima Tassadiq (@fatimatassadiq) January 30, 2016
South Asia is only seen as desirable when we can be used as sad-looking, dark-skinned props that throw colorful powder everywhere @coldplay— reclaimthebindi (@reclaimthebindi) January 30, 2016
Coldplay are a bunch of white men who felt it is was necessary to use Indian and south Asian culture to be exoticised.— ☭ (@commie_mami) January 29, 2016
Did you just say playing Holi is a cliche? Why do we then make such a big deal of it every year in March? We rub each other’s faces with colours, dance on the streets every year. And yes, slum kids do it too. So are you not trying to snub their existence after all by not wanting to see them in movies, music and videos about India?
“Oh, oh... I’ll just close my eyes every time I am passing by a slum dwelling. I’ll even not let Hollywood movies and Western music have them at all because, while it may be true, this is the ugly side of our country and it is best that it kept hidden.”
If Danny Boyle had ‘IT Firm Millionaire’ in mind, he would have made a movie in Bengaluru or Gurgaon with tall buildings, swanky shopping arcades and pretentious cafes. But he had a story that he wanted to tell and that was about a kid from the slums of Mumbai making it big in life.
So why is it difficult for people to realise that he was not making a video to promote tourism in India where he would show off the Taj Mahal and clean roads?
To accept Coldplay’s video is even easier. Yes, it does show people from the slums, but they are having so much fun. They all look so happy dancing on the streets, skinny dipping in a pond and triple riding a bike. It is shot so beautifully that your heart would only want to enjoy and appreciate the colours of the country.
Maybe that is why they chose a happier, peppier song from the album to pay homage to India.
Again, showing sadhus, you say is a cliche? How about we do a Google search on ‘Sadhus in India’. A gazillion result should tell you (if it wasn’t already clear enough) that they do exist and that is all the video has shown. They can look as majestic as they do in the video and can be seen on city streets at the same time. They are a part of our culture alright.
People do go to movie theatres in smaller towns as all of them do not have massive multiplexes with comfy chairs. Yes, Beyonce is wearing henna on her hands but you have the right to be offended only if you have never worn a pair of jeans in your life. Till then, you have the right to remain silent.
Yes, we wish Sonam got more screen time, but if you think about it, she needn’t be there in the first place. Sonam is not the muse, Chris Martin doesn’t even see her in the entire video and even without her India still looks beautiful.
The fact is Coldplay has made a beautiful video (after their dancing apes video, we didn’t expect much from them) and we are awed by it. The video doesn’t look down upon the theme, it celebrates it. It cherishes how colourful we are and how incredibly varied and happy we are with what we have.
If others can look and realise the beauty of our country, why can’t we? Perhaps this can help:
The author tweets as @soumya1405