Culture, Gender and Movies

Time to think beyond Racist and Objectifying lyrics

With over 1 million dislikes on YouTube, Beyonce Sharma Jayegi from Khalee Peeli is facing severe criticism and controversy for its racist lyrics

 
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It’s not the first time Bollywood songs have glorified fair skin in their lyrics. Ananya Pandey and Ishaan Khatter starter Khaali Peeli’s latest song ‘Beyonce Sharma Jayegi’ is just the latest addition to the list. Wasn’t it enough when they just glorified fair skin as a beauty standard that they had to involve Beyonce and compare her dark skin? The song that released on 6th September faced a severe backlash by the netizens. Looks like no one is excited about the racist lyrics either.

If it weren’t for the peppy music that prompts us to shake a leg, much of Bollywood songs would have never received any appreciation. With changing beauty standards, it is important that movie lyrics do their part accordingly. What took everyone by disappointment is how the song came up in spite of so much campaign going on all over the world against racism.

The only good thing about the song was to watch the lea actors dance to the tunes. Must say, Ananya and Ishaan Khatter are splendid dancers. But the controversy that came along with the song did not let them have some credit for their awesome moves.

The makers’ decision to change the lyrics from ‘beyonce sharma jayegi‘ to ‘ duniya sharma jayegi‘ does not make things better. The racist propaganda of the lyrics still remains intact. The decision of the makers to change the lyrics can only be thought of as a compromise to waive the law suite that may follow for using the celebrated pop singer’s name which she has trademarked.

How lyrics have normalized objectification

Leaving racism on one side, there’s another theme that most Bollywood songs have used all these years – objectification.

It is using many obscene lyrics and dialogues that men make use of to catcall women.

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Female objectification is something that many Indian movies have been normalizing for centuries. It’s interesting to see how they made stalking, eve-teasing and cat-calling look so ‘cool’ and ‘macho’.

Giving a closer look, the songs in Indian movies celebrated these normalized social evils, tricking us into believing that this how love sounds! ‘Knicker waali chori’ is just one part of many of Honey Singh’s famously unbefitting songs.

Tandoori Murgi‘, ‘chatpati‘, ‘Afghan Jalebi‘ – such words are common in song lyrics to describe a female body. I just have one question – are you talking about women or delicacies to be served on your table?

From beautiful and meaningful poetic song lyrics when did our songs reduce to a collection of demeaning and inappropriate words against women? Item numbers have always been the success mantra of many recently released Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu movies. Situations are created in the movies to add such songs. But why?

Because people like us buy and enjoy the glam and glitter these songs offer without noticing the misogyny and non-rational thoughts we are being fed with.

Cleavage, waist, and butt shots are equally relevant ingredients to such songs to add meaning to all those non-sensical lyrics. Somewhere it also adds to the rape culture in Indian Cinema.

Many including me have danced to these songs, in fact, will continue to dance as long as these lyrics are wrapped up neatly in fine beats and joyful music. This is not an accusation to all the actors and filmmakers who have been a part of these songs.

Nor is there any intention to blame those who danced to these tunes in parties, functions, or even just for the fun of it. The point to be emphasized here is how these song lyrics with a coat of glamour and upbeat rhythm trick our subconscious conscience into normalizing the objectification of women and catcalling. We can’t surrender our consciousness to something whose only aim is monetary benefits and good business.

Filmmaking is an art and so are the lyrics. It is all about changing the perspective and opening our eyes and minds to the change that is happening around the world. We can still have a peppy, groovy number without being racist and without objectifying anyone. It’s all about churning out those creative juices. It’s high time Bollywood changes its age-old perception and reflects those changed perceptions in its lyrics.

 

Image Courtesy: Youtube

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