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The Gaze

Despite the recent attraction of Indian settings for Western musicians, the fact is these productions only reshape the colonial gaze that has for centuries defined who is the subject and who is the object.

At first, I was thrilled when a catchy song such as “Lean on” by Major Lazer and DJ Snake became a hit last summer: nothing like seeing Indian girls dancing in saris, palaces draped in silk curtains and hand-painted buses becoming the stages for wonky dances in the song’s accompanying video-clip. (And I still play the song on a loop and dance to it in all my euphoric clumsiness whenever it comes up at a party!)

Then, more recently, I came across “Bounce” by Iggy Azalea: the song’s video is another hymn to India, with the Australian rapper sporting what seems to be a wedding attire, complete with golden-embroidered red sari, opulent jewellery and jasmine flowers adorning her hair, as she dances in a temple courtyard, on an elephant, and in a street flanked by Indian children throwing colour-dust into the air, as is the custom on Holi.

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