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  Entertainment   Bollywood  26 Sep 2020  Look, Khaali Peeli, you can't call girls goriya anymore

Look, Khaali Peeli, you can't call girls goriya anymore

Published : Sep 26, 2020, 2:22 pm IST
Updated : Sep 26, 2020, 2:36 pm IST

New film's casual racism called out by netizens and producers do a double take

A scene from the Khaali Peeli, which premieres on Zee Plex on October 2.
 A scene from the Khaali Peeli, which premieres on Zee Plex on October 2.

Mumbai: Bollywood's casual racism has come to the fore in the controversy over the reference to Beyonce as 'goriya' in a song from the Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Panday starrer Khaali Peeli.

Before its makers did a double take and changed the lyric, the song 'Beyonce sharma jayegi' went "tujhe dekh ke goriya Beyonce sharma jayegi". It's the standard Bollywood pickup line used by its 'boys' in pursuit of 'chokris', 'chamelis', 'goriyas', 'dhannos'.

But this is now, a time when woke netizens are not willing to let casual sexism or racism pass unchallenged. Sunil Gavaskar learnt it the hard way from Anushka Sharma yesterday. And not the makers of Khaali Peeli are realising that while boys might be boys, women won't be goriyas anymore.

The offending track, which was released earlier this month, was called out by netizens for furthering the glorification of white skin and for its a bizarre reference to the African-American pop star as 'goriya'.

Khaali Peeli's director Maqbool Khan told PTI that the track was meant to showcase Beyonce the pop diva as an icon.

Following the uproar, the makers tweaked the track and completely changed the line to "tera dekh ke nakhra duniya sharma jayegi".

Maqbool Khan clarified that when the track was composed, they didn't find it "racist" or "sexist".

"The word 'goriya' has been used in a number of songs in Hindi films. The idea was never to bring down or tag the colour aspect to Beyonce.

"For us, it was about this guy who is street smart and is trying to impress his girl and in that process he says, the way you are performing even Beyonce will blush... The entire thing was to put Beyonce as an idol, icon," Khan said.

It doesn't seem like the makers of Khaali Peeli were convinced by their own defence. So they went and changed the lyrics.

The director said they respected the people's opinion and therefore, decided to alter the lyrics.

"We respect people's sentiment. This was never intended to be like this. We apologise for that. We are responsible filmmakers, be it me, Ali Abbas Zafar and Himanshu Mehra (producers). We didn't want any controversy to happen," Khan said.

The filmmaker has previously helmed TV series and movies like Encounter, Lanka, starring Manoj Bajapyee and Arjan Bajwa, and Kabootar.

Since the goriya controversy, Khan has begged audiences to give a fair chance to the film.

Touted as a formulaic film, Khaali Peeli is about a 'hero' kind of guy and 'heroin'i kinda girl trying to escape from the police and the villain.

Maqbool Khan says he is aware of the 'changing tastes' of audiences, but he still believes that massy, entertaining films will continue to exist.

"Cinema has evolved and changed a lot in ten years. We have new-age filmmakers and storytellers coming with high concept films. But this kind of Bollywood cinema is also alive.

"If there is a Dil Chahta Hai, then will be a typical hero films like Simmba, Singham. With my film, I'm not making any statement that I am giving you a brilliant story that you have never seen before. I know that people have seen such stories and characters before," Khan said.

Khaali Peeli, produced by Ali Abbas Zafar, was initially scheduled for a big screen release. It will now release on the pay-per-view service Zee Plex on October 2.

Tags: khaali peeli, ishaan khatter ananya panday, gavaskar anushka, zee plex