Recently, we reported how the song Beyonce Sharma Jayegi from Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khatter’s upcoming film Khaali Peeli had committed an embarrassing blunder by promoting colourism through its lyrics, all while making a careless reference to singer Beyoncé, who is an international icon of Black pride and anti-racism. While we did note how the song wasn’t really shaming Beyoncé for her darker skin, but was instead promoting Panday’s fair skin, this goof-up had left desi netizens apologising to the American singer online.
Well, it looks like the song’s makers took note of the unending criticism the song received. In good faith, or so it seemed, they supposedly tweaked those bits that people had called problematic. Except, nothing has changed really, and it’s only just an eyewash.
Lyrics Change On Streaming Platforms…
The lyrics that earlier (rather painfully) read: “Tu jo kamariya hilayegi, tujhe dekh ke goriya, Beyonce sharma jayegi”, have been changed to an entirely different line.
On music streaming platforms like Amazon Music, Spotify, and Wynk, the title and the lyrics have both been changed to Duniya Sharma Jayegi, which now sound something like: “Tu jo kamariya hilayegi, tera dekh ke nakhra ye duniya sharma jayegi.” The word goriya and Beyonce have both been removed as if they never existed. Which seems like a move quite laudable.
“Since our lyrical arrangement did not go well with few people, we thought why not keeping the essence same, change the song a little bit,” said director Maqbool Khan in a statement.
The fact that music composers, lyricists, and makers took note of the outrage surrounding the song, and humbly accepted their mistake to go the extra mile and change the misleading bits was encouraging. That Bollywood, despite its propensity for projecting stereotypes, harassment, casual sexism, and colour bias, is willing to learn and adapt.
I was only just coming to terms with this happy realisation when YouTube said, hold my beer.
…But Not On YouTube
Backtracking to the original video of the song posted by Zee Music Company on YouTube, which has by now amassed a solid 14 million+ views, will tell you that the lyric changes on streaming platforms have been a double-cross. All the makers have done here is change the title from Beyonce to Beyonse (?) and retained all the lyrics as they were intact inside.
On YouTube, if you dare press the play button to get the cringefest started, you’ll discover that the lyrics still sing, “Tu jo kamariya hilayegi, tujhe dekh ke goriya, Beyonce sharma jayegi.” The word “goriya” is still there in the song, in all its glory, followed soon by the misplaced line “Beyonce sharma jayegi.”
The Original Song Is Still Available On Select Platforms
To the makers, I’d like to ask: Who are you taking for fools? Us or yourselves?
A simple search on Instagram will show that the original song, complete with its colourist overtones as posted by both Panday and Khatter on their accounts on September 7, is still flashing Beyonce Sharma Jayegi without any sharam.
So what happened? Did the makers think it would be too big a loss to delete the original YouTube video, which has millions of views and upload a new one with the refurbished lyrics? Are they only just pandering to public opinion to save face? Have they really learnt nothing from the backlash over the song, except that it would possibly spoil their box office collections whenever the film releases?
Beyonce Or Beyonse: Does The Spelling Matter?
The biggest pet peeve I have in all this is not the makers’ absolute hack job of a correction to the song. It is with both the doggedness and evasiveness that “Beyonce” has been changed to “Beyonse” – either hoping that no one will notice or hoping that people will notice just enough to stop outraging. Because, after all, we changed the part you had a problem with na?
Dear everyone involved in the making of the song – music composer duo Vishal-Shekhar, singers Nakash Aziz and Neeti Mohan, lyricists Kumaar and Raj Shekhar, music producer Harsh Upadhyay, and finally, the stars Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khatter – the answer to tackling colourism does not lay in turning a ‘c’ to an ‘s’. It only tells us that you take audience opinion as a joke and the audience as buffoons who can be tricked with wordplay. You’re still telling us that fair skin is the ideal that trumps every other skin shade.
If at all the makers had been repentant about the song and what it promotes, advertently or inadvertently, they would have taken down the original video and for real, changed the lines on every single platform. Regardless of whether streaming platforms now flash a new title, the fact of the matter is, the original is still floating around, and will chest-thump in all its colourist glory until such time that someone has the conscience to take it down.
Update: We reported this morning how the film’s makers hadn’t taken down the song Beyonse Sharma Jayegi from YouTube, in spite of changing its title on other music streaming platforms. In a positive turn of events, a few hour ago, the aforementioned video was replaced with a new one on Zee Music Company’s official channel, with the title Duniya Sharma Jayegi. The new video has amassed over 34,000 views on YouTube.
Views expressed are the author’s own.