Saturday 7 December 2019

Coldplay video criticised for 'stereotypical' portrayal of India

Coldplay singer Chris Martin, centre, with Beyonce and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl half-time show (AP)
Coldplay singer Chris Martin, centre, with Beyonce and Bruno Mars at the Super Bowl half-time show (AP)

Coldplay's latest music video has been criticised for showing a "stereotypical" image of India with Hindu holy men, peacocks and colourful festivals.

The British rock band featured Beyonce in their Super Bowl half-time show on Sunday, but did not perform their new collaboration, Hymn for the Weekend.

The four-minute video for the song shows Coldplay being chased and pelted with colour as residents celebrate Holi, the Indian festival of colour.

Many Indians say it stereotypes India as the land of holy men and pagan festival rituals. They say the video ignores changes in India following the economic boom that has changed the face of many towns and cities.

The music video, shot almost entirely in India's entertainment capital Mumbai, also has a two-second appearance by Sonam Kapoor, an up-and-coming Bollywood actress.

The video has triggered a debate among India's English-speaking elite about cultural appropriation as Beyonce appears dressed in typical Indian wedding finery, on billboards and in a bioscope painted in many hues.

Most criticism was on social media.

"Why does the white man not get it? India 2016 is not a land of snake-charmers, sadhus and nagins. Stereotype," Zakka Jacob, a television anchor at CNN-IBN tweeted.

"It seems they are in love with all the cliches about India. Just missing a snake charmer!" Nidhi Kapur, a human resource professional, said in a tweet.

In 2008, Danny Boyle's multiple-Oscar winning film Slumdog Millionaire faced similar criticism for its portrayal of poverty and corruption in India, with critics saying the film showed the country in its worst light.

But the Coldplay video also had its admirers.

"Amazing India. Exotic India. Captured so beautifully in the latest @coldplay video Hymn for the Weekend," tweeted Pritish Nandy, an Indian politician and poet.

PA Media

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