Coldplay and Beyoncé got people talking with their “Hymn For The Weekend” music video, filmed on location in Mumbai’s Worli Village. Many criticized the artists for appropriating Indian culture, while others applauded their efforts to increase diversity in media.
In the video, Beyoncé portrays a Bollywood actress starring in a movie. She wears elaborate embroidered and sequined outfits created by Indian designers Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. Her hands are decorated with mehndi, a type of henna that Hindu brides wear, but here’s the thing — it’s not worn the way most Indians wear it.
Let me explain. In India, mehndi is heavily associated with weddings, but people also get it done for festivals, holidays, and special events in general. It’s basically a thick, dark brown paste that’s applied to your hands in a traditional design. Bey recently Instagrammed several behind-the-scenes photos from the music video shoot, so here’s what her hands looked like when she first got them done:
The paste then cracks off as it dries and leaves behind an orange-y design on your skin. How good the “tattoo” looks depends on how quickly the paste falls off. The longer the paste stays on, the darker the resulting “tattoo” will be. This means you can’t wash your hands or move them around too much. It’s kind of like painting your nails; you’ll mess it all up if you put your fingers to work before the polish dries.
I had mehndi done several times growing up, and my mom always sprinkled sugar water or lemon juice on the paste so that it stayed on as long as possible. To get the darkest “tattoo,” I’d avoid water at all costs and even fall asleep with the paste still on my hands. The next morning, the paste would finally crack off, revealing a beautiful nearly-black pattern on my palms.
The whole process, when done properly, takes several hours. Beyoncé probably didn’t have time for this; most likely, she filmed the music video without giving her mehndi time to dry. The result? Hands with cracked, half-dried paste and a pale orange “tattoo” underneath. See for yourself:
Here’s a close-up from Bey’s Insta:
Had Beyoncé kept the paste on longer, the design would’ve been a much deeper orange-brown color that bordered on black.
It’s a minor detail, sure, but in a video that paid SO much attention to detail, I question why this wasn’t picked up on. My best guess is that Bey (and her crew) were running short on time the day of the shoot. Maybe they were more focused on the fashion.
“I had communicated to Beyoncé and her camp the vibe and direction we were aiming for,” video director Ben Mor told Black Dog Films, “and when I walked into her dressing room before the shoot and saw all the incredible wardrobe pieces they pulled I was floored. I knew we only needed two looks and there was enough great stuff for 20 looks! Needless to say when she emerged from the dressing room with her final selections I immediately realized we were filming something special.”
Whatever the case, she looked stunning among those flowers. 🙌