First, off, it’s not up for debate that the Coldplay video “Hymn For The Weekend” featuring Beyoncé does absolutely borrow tropes and traditional imagery from Indian culture. Though it is set in Mumbai, there’s more at play than location here. In particular, Beyoncé’s appearance in the video—which you can watch here—either straddles or crosses that fine line between “appreciation” and “appropriation.”
The reaction to the video has been immediate and mixed. Just take our very own Facebook comments section where some of you have voiced your displeasure with elements of what was released this morning. We, too, have our own questions and doubts (though our love for Queen Bey remains intact). In the end, though, it’s only for individual Indians and members of the global desi diaspora to decide for themselves whether “Hymn For The Weekend” is an appropriate celebration of Mumbai, India at large, and the vibrant culture it birthed, or whether it’s an inappropriate example of cultural colonialism.
That said, we thought it would be interesting and maybe even valuable to reach out to some friends of ours who are not only of desi descent, but either musicians themselves or members of the BeyHive, for perspectives on what has become a controversial bit of pop-culture ephemera. Read on, listen, and then share your position in the comments below or on Facebook. We’ll be reading.