I am an Indian. I was born here. I have lived here for 25 years of my life. And yet, Chris Martin knows my country better than I do. In fact, it seems like he knows the country better than most of Indians.
At least his latest song, Hymn For The Weekend proves that. Watch the video (also ft. Sonam Kapoor) here:
Source: Coldplay Official
Coldplay has done an awesome job shooting the video which comprises of some really breathtaking frames, credit where it's due. The song which shows Martin roaming about the streets of India, with generous sprinklings of Beyonce's cleavage, is well-made video footage on the whole. And that's just a brilliant cinematographer at work. But screenplay? I have my doubts!
The video is a "tour" of India by a firang for the firangs who want to see India in a certain way.
5 seconds into the video, we are bombarded with images and visuals that the West has long associated with the Land of Nirvana, India.
And for the next 4 minutes of the run time of the video, India finds itself in the worst piece of stereotypical imagery ever. And mind you, we have been in Slumdog Millionaire before.
Here's what I, as an Indian, couldn't understand in the video (or in any other firang video shot in India) :
1. What is a white peacock doing in Indian ruins?
Anybody who's been to India would know the actual fauna of our country.
2. Why have saadhus hijacked every nook and cranny of Indian streets?
Where is the common Indian man struggling to start from somewhere and in a rush to reach some place else?
3. Why is everyone dressed as gods & goddesses?
Why are we always expected to look either like a sanyaasi or the unprivileged?
4. Why the eff is everyone playing Holi, unnecessarily?
5. Why is this kid showing movies in this colorful box?
6. Why is this kid somersaulting into a pond?
Because these kids don't fit in your idea of India, right?
7. Why is Chris Martin watching a movie in a single screen theater?
When he had IMAX screens at his disposal in Mumbai?
8. Why is this guy spitting fire in a tunnel?
9. Why are Indian ladies draped only in traditional wear?
Does this make the other set of women any less Indian?
10. Why is this guy there in every other firangi video?
11. Why is India always so colorful & vibrant, anyway?
We have our moments of dullness and lacklustre too. Because it's absolutely fine to be imperfect sometimes!
12. And most importantly, what is Sonam Kapoor doing in your video, Coldplay?
Haven't you seen Players?
Or Dolly Ki Doli, for that matter?
All this, Chris, after you secretly had a blast at the coolest place in the Capital with the coolest people in India?
What the West needs to understand right now is that while we are every bit proud of our diversities and culture, we are sick of the centuries-old colonial stereotypes. Yes, a part of us is what you show in your videos but there's a whole lot of modernity in the Indian socio-economic set-up that needs to be explored and celebrated by your uber-expensive camera lenses.
We've been all the way to the moon and back but if you still choose to show us as nothing more than snake charmers in your videos, it's your loss! Laced by stereotypes, your cinema will take another 50 years to embrace the beauty of the 'other' India and by then, India would have produced a thousand more reasons to be celebrated.