Stereotypes come easily to everyone and it’s funny to watch them among people of the same but multicultural country. Despite belonging to a single piece of land, Indians are very different from each other in what they speak, wear and consume – literally and figuratively. So the ‘idea’ of what the ‘other’ side is like is often stereotyped, especially in media representation.
For example, Kollywood’s idea of North Indians is often a monotonous representation of the Hindi-speaking settlers of Tamil Nadu. And Bollywood’s idea of South Indians (which includes Kannadigas, Malayalis, Tulus, etc.) comes only from the Tamil, Telugu speaking settlers of Bombay. Ironically, Mumbai is the capital of Maharashtra, which is India’s southernmost Hindi-speaking state, yet they have even the remotest variant of the Hindi population.
While lamentations from all sides have always been there, the year 2013 brought an open discussion on this issue after a Hindi song called ‘Lungi Dance’ went viral. Yo Yo Honey Singh, who was a rising Bollywood star then, had penned the number as a tribute to Tamil superstar Rajinikanth and was part of a Shah Rukh Khan-produced film titled Chennai Express. Rajinikanth’s second daughter Soundarya even participated in the song, and the makers accepted her suggestion to include the ‘Thalaiva’ chant in one of the songs. Lungi dance publications.
L: A poster from Chennai Express film that featured it Lungi dance song; Tamil henchmen are seen in the background who according to the story work for the heroine’s father R: Rohit Shetty’s 2022 movie online review Circuspart of which took place in Ooty, Tamil Nadu
Rohit Shetty, its director Chennai Express he is used to including anything tamil in his movies. But his “inclusiveness” and “values” have sometimes annoyed the Tamil side because it is blatantly stereotypical. Shetty’s intentions are harmless but have been pointed out by the entire South section, especially since he himself has roots from South India.
With this as a pretext he comes Yentammaa song composed by Payal Dev, lyrics by Shabbir Ahmed, rap by Raaftaar, vocals by Vishal Shekar, Payal Dev and additional lyrics and vocals by Aditya Dev. Yentamma is part of a Salman Khan starrer called Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan and the film is a remake of a Tamil hit called Veeram. For the song, the makers have roped in Telugu leads Ram Charan and Venkatesh Daggubatti to dance alongside Salman and Pooja Hedge in traditional southern attire in a palette usually seen in Telugu films.
A tweet confusing veshti – a formal wear, for a lungi which is a casual PJ type outfit:
Lungi dance is always fun… Watch @BeingSalmanKhan, @VenkyMama, #RamCharan and @hegdepooja in a colorful avatar dancing to the tunes of South Indian music is such a pleasant feeling… And finally a good choreography for Salman… #Yentamma from #KKBKKJ it’s a CHARTBUSTER!… pic.twitter.com/gnLsvdvhZd
— Rahul Raut (@Rahulrautwrites) April 4, 2023
The lyrics are a mix of Hindi and Telugu, even though there was not a single native Telugu contributor involved in the song’s creation. The intention to pay homage to Telugu is understandable given director Siva who originally wrote Veeram has Telugu roots. But the prevailing stereotype certainly led to another set of eyes in the South.
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