Khaali Peeli director says ‘goriya’ in Beyoncé Sharma Jayegi was ‘never intended racially’
The song has sparked outrage for calling Ananya Panday’s character a ‘goriya’ (fair-skinned girl) who would put ‘Beyoncé to shame’
Khaali Peeli director Maqbool Khan has defended the use of the word ‘goriya’ in the song Beyoncé Sharma Jayegi, saying the lyric in question ‘was never intended racially’.
The track, written by Kumaar and Raj Shekhar, and composed by Vishal-Shekhar, calls Ananya Panday’s character a ‘goriya’ (fair-skinned girl) who would put ‘Beyoncé to shame’.
The line has sparked strong reactions online for its racist overtones. People have also called out the ingrained colourism and conflation of fair skin with beauty in Hindi film lyrics. Additionally, the makers have reportedly not sought Beyoncé’s permission to use her name commercially, making it a copyright issue.
“First, without any hesitation or excuses we want to apologise to anyone offended,” Maqbool said in a statement. “We assure you that the lyric in question was never intended racially. In fact, the term 'goriya' 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 the literal manner.”
Maqbool adds that the comparison with Beyonce “is simply meant to be a street-smart guy flattering a girl that her dancing/performance is worth comparing to even Beyonce, who we all see as the final word, the epitome of talent, beauty, performance, style and attitude. We are all huge fans, and there was never any question of disrespect.”
Lyricist Kumaar stated, “Goriya as a word has been used in many Hindi songs earlier. Our idea was to simply use a synonym to 'girl'. There is no derogation intended — we revere the beauty of global celebrity Beyoncé and don’t mean to hurt any of her fans.”
Khaali Peeli stars Ishaan Khatter and Ananya Pandey in the lead. Produced by Zee Studios, Ali Abbas Zafar and others, the film is set to be released on the newly launched Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) service Zee Plex.