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Bollywood’s generalisation of women as ‘fair is beautiful’ is clearly evident from Khaali Peeli’s new song Beyonce Sharma Jaegi.’ Will this obsession stop?
Can you name songs that use the word ‘gori’ as a way to praise or refer to a woman? You can, can’t you? Right from ‘Goriya chura na mera jiya (Coolie No. 1, 1995) to ‘Chittiyaan kalaiyaan’ (Roy, 2015), the list is endless.
On that note, if I asked you to name songs praising dark-skinned women, would you be able to do so? It would be tough, wouldn’t it? Sadly, for years, Bollywood has been obsessed with describing women are tall, beautiful and gori. After all, beautiful and young women, have to be only gori, right?
And a new song titled ‘Beyonce sharma jaegi,’ is the latest addition to Bollywood’s obsession with fairness. From the movie Khaali Peeli, starring Ishan Khatter and Ananya Pandey, the song is extremely problematic.
The song has the tall, beautiful and quite fair-skinned Ananya Pandey dancing to the lyrics ‘Jab tu kamariya hilayegi, toh tujhe dekhke, goriya, Beyonce sharma jaegi.’ (Your dance moves, my fair lady, will make even Beyonce jealous) This song is an example of sexism served with a side of racism in a dance number.
Composed by Vishal-Shekhar, written by Kumaar and Raj Shekhar, the song is sung by Nakash Aziz and Neeti Mohan. It goes on to praise the goriya for her dance moves which are supposedly better than those of Beyoncé! (Which, FYI, is how you spell her name!
Well, if you don’t know who Beyoncé is, let me tell you. She is a Black, American singer, songwriter, producer and actor whose dance moves are one of the best! The song ‘Beyonce sharma jaegi’ glorifies fair-skin and compares it to Beyoncé (a Black woman), making it racist.
For years, popular songs have preferred calling women ‘gori’ as a way to praise them or compliment them. While calling someone gori to compliment her is not wrong, associating beauty with fairness definitely is. Similarly, stating that you are beautiful and worthy of compliments, only if you are fair is just as problematic.
Often, women in these songs aren’t fair-skinned yet praised and called a goriya. For example, the song, ‘Yeh kaali kaali aankhen, ye gore gore gaal,’ which has Kajol, a woman with a wheatish complexion. But to praise her, the terms ‘gore gore gaal,’ is being used. Because, in our society, being called gori is the only legitimate way to praise someone.
A lot of people may say that gori or goriya is just a way to refer to Indian women, thus not discriminatory at all. But here’s the thing – it is extremely discriminatory! This is simply so because thanks to Bollywood songs, referring to a woman as a gori has become a way of describing beauty.
Dark-complexion is often subconsciously portrayed as a flaw or a shortcoming in the songs. For years now, these songs have been establishing a discriminatory norm that being fair is equivalent to being beautiful.
Calling all Indian women gori or goriya is wrong since not all Indian women are fair-skinned. And associating them all with only the word ‘fair’ is extremely discriminatory.
It’s high time we stop generalising women as gori and also just start writing better songs. I mean, is Beyonce sharma jaegi what we want Queen B to think of when she thinks of India? Our country is a hub of musical talents coming in all languages. It’s time we move on from cringey, sexist and racist item numbers and start utilising the real gem of talent that our country has.
Picture credits: YouTube
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