Is the Coldplay video really that offensive?

(Published in The Huffington Post India:

The iconic musical sensation, Coldplay went a step further when it decided to shoot a video with Beyonce in our very own country, India.

And it fell right into the clutches of the Indian social media trolls who ripped it apart before it got any time to come up for air.

The reactions coming forward after the release of ‘Hymn for the weekend’, Coldplay’s latest single featuring  the pop diva Beyonce and shot in India’s city of dreams – Mumbai, can only be described as cynical.

Giving in to the curiosity aroused by all the fiery reactions the video has stirred up in the last few days, I finally watched it yesterday. As someone has tweeted “The most Indian thing about the Coldplay video is the reaction.” I couldn’t agree more.

Sure, there were the much talked about ‘kaali-peelis’ (black and yellow taxis synonymous with Mumbai), the children throwing the Holi colors and Beyonce’s admittedly over the top Indian head gear and garb, but do we need to be so critical and negative about an artist’s creation and the elements they have chosen to feature in the video?

There is nothing offensive enough in the video for us to be up in arms in patriotic protest. Artists like Iggy Azalea, Major Lazer and DJ Snake with ‘Lean On’, the French group Shankara, Imogen Heap and many other international artists have collaborated with Indian music composers and singers adopting Indian backdrops, cultural influences like clothes, jewellery, dances and even music to churn out eclectic, catchy compilations that we happily shake a leg to at a party or a wedding but are ready to tear down with criticism on social media channels.

Yes, we only heard of Coldplay’s video when the rumour mills were buzzing with news of Sonam Kapoor’s cameo in the video which got us all sitting up straight and curious. And yes, high hopes were somewhat soured when it turned out that her cameo was just a three second affair. But Sonam Kapoor was in Coldplay’s video for a few seconds! Certainly a story I would want to tell my grand kids too, had it been me! And to be perfectly honest, you know you would too.

We seem to have taken for granted that Twitter and other social media channels exist as platforms for us to troll and criminalize almost everything that anyone does. So much so that an artist can not infuse some culture from another country or elements of its culture without being on the receiving end of dollops of flak. Holi is one of our most celebrated festivals. It featured in the video. One of our top Indian actresses featured in the video – however brief her appearance was. Why must we view it as cultural misappropriation instead of appreciation? When Priyanka Chopra decided to launch a music video featuring Pitbull with typically western, English lyrics, costumes and even the stereotypical backdrops of western pop videos today, we were quick to applaud her efforts. And so were they!

We travel across seas to London and other countries, securing concert tickets well in advance to be able to be in the audience when Coldplay is performing. If we really are big Coldplay fans and provided that nothing of real offence has been depicted in the video, lets appreciate the song and the art of the artist and lets leave our ‘trolling tendencies’ aside for when the BJP or Congress make the next headlines.







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