NEW DELHI — Beyoncé and Coldplay have been raising hackles in India.
The singer and actress appears in the video for the British band’s latest single, “Hymn for the Weekend,” dressed as a Bollywood goddess — and Indians aren’t pleased. The term “cultural appropriation” is being thrown around, as comments on Twitter and other social media argue about Beyoncé’s Indian outfit.
As Coldplay gets set to perform at half time at the Super Bowl at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., this Sunday, with Beyoncé expected to make an appearance, the question of whether the “overly exoticized Bollywood angle will be used further” is being asked by some angry Twitter users.
Others are somewhat surprised by the intensity of the debate over Beyoncé’s outfit, asking, “Whatever happened to global fashion?” and commenting instead on the cultural acceptance displayed in adopting an Indian style.
As the debate on cultural appropriation and stereotyping continues, with demands for an apology from the band, there is also some appreciation of the cultural sharing. “It’s not offensive to share and appreciate culture. Culture should also be inclusive,” one of the comments on Twitter said.
Beyoncé’s deep red dress with heavy gold sequins and crystals and a chest-baring neckline, with its black capelike coat, heavy embroidery, beads and appliqué work, was created by Indian designer duo Abu Jani & Sandeep Khosla. But it is the brief shots of her in a sari with heavy Indian style jewelry that are causing the most comments, discussion and indignation.
The video finished with Coldplay written in Hindi and also featured a brief appearance by Indian actress Sonam Kapoor.
“I am not sure since when there’s been such heavy protectionism on Indian clothes,” said Javed Alam, a media critic and social media analyst. He said this logic does not seem to have stemmed the tirade on social media.
The video was shot in Mumbai and has elicited an equally strong response — with objections to India being shown in a poor light with “more sadhus [religious men] and kids dancing in the streets.”
“No thanks for the bundle of stereotypes @coldplay,” one of the comments on Twitter said.
In the video, which was directed by Ben Mor, Coldplay’s lead singer Chris Martin walks through the streets of Mumbai, travels in a typical Mumbai taxi cab, and dances with street children while playing holi, the festival of colors.
In a 2012 song titled “Princess of China,” Coldplay used a strong Chinese motif, with Rihanna as the princess. Twitter users noted that the grandeur of the backdrop featured in that video contrasted sharply with the street scenes and poverty depicted in the video for “Hymn for the Weekend.”