Viral Now: India as seen through Coldplay's looking glass

By Saumya Tewari , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | February 02, 2016
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The British rock band, in its latest single Hymn For The Weekend video stays true to the West's clichéd notion of India.

Levitating sadhus, henna tattoos, bathing ghats, men breathing fire, and a bioscope - well yes, that's the new Coldplay video titled Hymn For The Weekend, a perfect example of the West's perception of exotic India which continues well into the 21st century.

The over four-minute long video begins with typical Indian imagery of saffron-clad sadhus walking down ancient ruins with the sound of 'manjiras' in the background. As the song progresses, frontman Chris Martin sings along while walking down the narrow lanes, watching a movie in a theatre, and eventually taking a ride in a tri-colour boat.

In the midst of all this, pop singer Beyonce, who has a tie-up with Coldplay for this number, punctuates Martin's Indian sojourn, as she croons along dressed as a Bollywood actress called Rani.

The video is interspersed with stereotypical imagery often associated with India such as children dressed as Lord Shiva and Lord Hanuman, and gaudily dressed puppeteers. Shot in Mumbai, the video also features Bollywood actor Sonam Kapoor appearing as a desi belle in a blink-and-miss cameo.

The social media has been abuzz with a lot of clamour about the 'cultural appropriation' and how the West loves to portray India in a certain way. Meanwhile, the curiosity and hype for the video, uploaded on January 29, has already translated into more than a staggering 14 million YouTube views.

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