By Arunima Singh:
With the whole Internet going crazy about the new Coldplay video, curiosity got the better of me as the first thing I did this morning (right after checking my phone) was watch that video.
Some people are hurt, even angry. I fail to understand why. Unlike most other videos, Coldplay isn’t making foreigners wear bindi and dance in sarees (although, how problematic that is, remains debatable), or hurting religious sentiments or making a sequel to India’s Daughter.
We have Queen B as the Rani in videos being played everywhere, and a 2-second long cameo by Sonam Kapoor, and the rest of the video is one big Holi celebration in a city that looks, sometimes like Jodhpur, and sometimes like Varanasi, and sometimes too colourful to be true to me.
Now, Beyonce on the screen is not even something I considered people could find problematic, considering how obsessed we are with foreigners in movies (Giselli Monteiro played a ‘Punjaban’ in Love Aaj Kal, as for the blonde hair, Ali Larter got a part in Marigold, granted she was playing a foreigner). A non-issue, basically.
While I agree that Coldplay has exoticised India, making it look like all we do here is chill and play Holi or pray, it’s a music video for God’s sake. Are we expecting them to stand and film the cyber city in Gurgaon? Or some fancy hotels or highways? Or do we want it to discuss Digital India campaign or India’s foreign policy? Art is a personal expression, and if what they found interesting is that we play Holi or how the uncountable sadhus in our countries dress and live and pray, they are going to put that in their video. While we live inside buildings and work from our offices, there are actually taxis and half-naked children running around the roads. It is not something they made up.
They are not making a documentary about Indian lives. They are artists and in a video that they made, they have all the right to portray things that they wish to, as long as they are not untrue. And it is not. We do play Holi. Cities like Varanasi are a tourist destination across the world because of our traditions and rituals.
If you feel uncomfortable looking at all the naked children running around, I doubt you live in this country. They are everywhere. In every city. Every region. Maybe we should be uncomfortable enough to change that. Artistic freedom is something that should be respected, especially when the artists aren’t spreading lies or depicting us in a way that is harmful to our country.
We are a beautiful country. And a colourful one. And like every other country in the world, there are some things about us that people find more interesting than others. A great part of our nation is still very much about those godmen and the half-naked children and narrow lanes and just too many festivals to count.
While we are developing, competing with the rest of the world in business, technology and science, why is it so shocking if people are intrigued by things that are unique to us? I am sorry, but I refuse to be offended.