Bollywood song rewritten after backlash from alleged Beyonce slur


MUMBAI • A song from an upcoming Bollywood film has been rewritten after social media users criticised the original lyrics as racist for glorifying fair skin and making an inappropriate reference to black American pop star Beyonce.

The offending lyrics, which translated as "After looking at you fair woman, Beyonce would feel shy", featured in a song from a film called Khaali Peeli, whose director Maqbool Khan swiftly apologised.

"(The) lyrics in question were never intended racially," Khan said in a statement on Monday, adding that the film's makers were huge fans of Beyonce and had not meant any disrespect.

"The term 'goriya' (fair woman in Hindi) has been so often and traditionally used in Indian songs to address a girl, that it didn't occur to any of us to interpret it in a literal manner," he added.

A new version of the song, which drops the controversial line, is available on music-streaming applications, a spokesman for the film said.

India's film industry is often accused of feeding the country's obsession with fair skin and bias against darker faces and the issue drew increased scrutiny during the Black Lives Matter protests earlier this year when Bollywood actors spoke out against racism.

Campaigners welcomed the criticism on Twitter over the song's lyrics. They said it was a rare challenge to Bollywood song lyrics and dialogues equating fairness with beauty that showed greater awareness of discrimination.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 17, 2020, with the headline 'Bollywood song rewritten after backlash from alleged Beyonce slur'. Print Edition | Subscribe