Monday, February 8, 2016

'Thanda Bajao' .. aur thode thande ho jao

In case the title was not clear, I was referring to the latest uproar against the new video released by the British band ‘Coldplay’ who is accused of cultural appropriation. When I first heard that phrase, I was not even sure what that meant. Wiki told me that 'Cultural appropriation' is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture. Cultural appropriation is seen by some as controversial especially when elements of a minority culture are used by members of the cultural majority. 

Now we Indians shouldn't let any chance for any controversy pass away, should we? So I did what anyone in my place would do. I watched the 4.20 second video to see why India was upset. And really people I can’t believe that this depiction of India has upset you?

Shot in India, the video features the British band performing in Mumbai during Holi err… or Diwali (I couldn't really make up my mind),  Chris Martin going around in a colorful taxi (which I absolutely loved) and watching a Bollywood movie starring Beyonce (not so sure on that, Priyanka Chopra would have been a better choice and she can sing too). Ok fine, the video has a lot of stereotypical elements about India.

The video starts with a peacock and then follow the levitating sadhus and the slum boys running around playing holi and doing hip-hop (don’t know when they upgraded from the Ganpati dance to hip-hop). Then there is a small boy with shiva costume (probably going to fancy dress competition waiting for the school bus), temples with saffron flags (ugh ugh.. Congress can now accuse Coldplay as not being secular and promoting only Hinduism), children watching videos through the kaleidoscope, Rajasthani man performing a puppet show, classical dances and beautiful costumes and now 3 and half minutes have passed away and I start wondering where the hell is Sonam Kapoor. Then she comes running (probably straight from the sets of Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo but the clothes looked poorer) and throws some flowers and then disappears never to be seen again. Even the slum kids have more screen time than her but anyways I am not complaining about her non existence in the video. It ends with Beyonce doing a 'namaste'..such a sanskari girl I have to admit.

All in all a very happy happy video. Now I am really confused as to why India is really angry about this. Perhaps because this is not the reality. We would be probably be happy if the video showed an open drainage, potholed roads, farmers committing suicides , roadside beggars , traffic jams, riots etc. Or perhaps we would be happy if the video showed only polished people wearing BlackBerry suits going to office in a BMW into BKC complex (except it would be really boring to see this scene for 4.2 minutes and also all the Blackberry suits would then be stuck in traffic jams which we wouldn't like to see in the video). Anyways the point I am trying to make is I am confused as to what would make everyone in India happy (probably India beating Pakistan in T20 finals). Also, this is the world of internet. No one in my office has ever asked me if I went to school on an elephant and people know that 'land of snake charmers' is a thing of the past. No one and I mean no one (except India offcourse) makes a judgement about India based on a Coldplay video. So lets take a chill pill.

But Ok fine, I do agree that I too, like everyone, have some complaints against the video. First of all after watching the video several times I have still not been able to understand why this was filmed in India but my brain is pea size so I am going to let that pass. However, I believe Chris Martin was in India from Holi to Diwali. Now there are several festivals in that time no? There is Ganpati which could have blended well with the slum kids throwing gulal and dancing on the roads. Then there is Gopal Kala and boy you could have shown out local athletes climbing on top of each other for a pot of butter. More importantly you missed the opportunity to show nag panchami and how we worship our snakes (ugh ugh). Anyways, the point being there are festivals other than Holi and Diwali that India celebrates just so you know. 
Also I know that you guys are very fond of Anil Kapoor but that doesn't mean you take anyone with the surname 'Kapoor' who is half as talented and twice as arrogant in your video just to have an Indian celebrity dancing and running around with flowers. Again Priyanka Chopra would have been a better choice. 
Lastly, don't be lazy while doing namaste. You have to bend and touch the feet of elders (or atleast pretend to touch before they say 'rehne do beta') and then you have captured the essence of India.

But again this is free advice, take it or leave it no one really cares, just like the video.



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