“Brown skin girl, ya skin just like pearls
Your back against the world
I never trade you for anybody else”– Beyoncé, Brown Skin Girl
August 24, 2020. The official video for Beyoncé’s ‘Brown Skin Girl‘ is released featuring women of colour from across the world and telling them that they are beautiful. Just two weeks of its release and Bollywood comes up with a song called ‘Beyonce Sharama Jayegi‘.
The first song of Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday starrer, ‘Khaali Peeli‘ has been receiving a lot of backlash from netizens. Written by Kumaar and Raj Shekhar, sung by Nakash Aziz and Neeti Mohan, and composed by Vishal-Shekhar, ‘Beyonce Sharama Jayegi‘ casually glamorizes white supremacy with its absolutely horrendous lyrics.
Why is ‘Beyonce Sharama Jayegi’ problematic?
2020 saw a huge uproar in public with the ‘Black Lives Matter Movement‘. In India, this movement gave us the impetus to stand against colourism more openly and more seriously. The age-long practice of making people feel that they are less than anyone whose skin is fairer than theirs started being questioned. Brands like ‘Fair and Lovely’ that preached about only fair women being successful, likeable, and suitable for marriage were canceled. More people finally started taking steps towards accepting themselves and realizing that they are beautiful the way they are. But amidst all these positive changes that the Indian society had started undergoing, there came a shallow song, the mindless lyrics which is a straight reflection of the idiocy of the lyricists and of those who approved of it.
“Tujhe dekhke goriya, Beyonce sharma jayegi”
The direct translation to this is – “after looking at you, oh fair girl, Beyoncé will feel ashamed“. Watching Ishan Khatter singing this for his fair-skinned lady-love (Ananya Panday) in the film, there’s just one thing that you can say for this song – “racist”. You can’t help but think that NOT ONE person in the entire crew of this film found these lyrics problematic.
Beyoncé and Her Contribution in Fighting Racism
It’s known to many how big an impact Beyoncé has had and continues to have in fighting racism and sexism. Her album ‘Lemonade’ and various other songs about Black Power have given hope to the Blacks and talked about their tragic history. From her famous Super Bowl performance to supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement, she has always stood for people of colour.
For the September 2018 issue of Vogue, Beyoncé made Anna Wintour hire a black photographer. For the very first time in the publication’s 126-year history, a black photographer shot a cover.
The list for all the good she has done is too long, but that is what the makers of ‘Beyonce Sharama Jayegi’ clearly did not realise. But the people on the internet know this and hence, they are apologising to Beyoncé for this “embarrassing” Bollywood song.
From ‘Beyonce Sharma Jayegi’ to ‘Beyonse Sharma jayegi’
It took more than a million dislikes on YouTube for the makers of this song to realise what they had done. And that is when they came out with the most creative solution for this! The solution, you ask? They tweaked the name of the song from ‘Beyonce Sharma Jayegi‘ to ‘Beyonse Sharma jayegi‘ and voila! Problem fixed. Now the people will stop calling their song racist because the spelling is not exactly the same as the original spelling of Beyoncé. It wasn’t exactly the same earlier either, but who would notice, right?
What the Creators Have to Say
In an interview with the Hindustan Times, the filmmaker, Maqbool Khan, has apologised and said, “First, without any hesitation or excuses we want to apologise to anyone offended. We assure you that the lyric in question was never intended racially.”
However, he defended his stance saying, “In fact, the term ‘goriya’ has been so often and traditionally used in Indian songs to address a girl, that it didn’t occur to any of us to interpret it in a literal manner,” he said.
“The comparison with Beyonce is simply meant to be a street-smart guy flattering a girl who is trying to impress that her dancing/performance is worth comparing to even Beyonce who we all see as the final word, the epitome of talent, beauty, performance, style, and attitude. We are all huge fans, and there was never any question of disrespect,” Khan added.
Bollywood and Its Obsession With ‘gori/goriya’
This is not the first time when we saw Bollywood using words like ‘goriya’ (fair skinned girl) to refer to an attractive woman. Songs like gore gore mukhde pe kala kala chashma, chittiyan kalaiyan, goria chura na mera jiya, etc have been there since as long as we can recall. Having an audience of more than a billion people, we can imagine the effect of Bollywood in shaping the thoughts of people. It can be used as a great tool to shape public opinion and speak against the social evils. While there are movies and songs that we are really proud of, songs such as Beyonce sharma jayegi are completely unacceptable. We hope that the other creators, too, have gained something from this controversy and that after this, there will be better written songs that are also morally right.