Thursday, May 21, 2009

Namastey London

I needed distraction last night so I stayed up too late watching Namastey London. It wasn't a great Bollywood film, but it was about my favorite Indians, Punjabis, so it wasn't too bad.

I had read on a Punjabi forum a few weeks ago how some people were angry with Bollywood because of the portrayal of Sardars as joke-characters: bumpkins, stupid, etc. They did that a bit in this film. Two or three bit players were portrayed as unintelligent donkeys. The worst of the "donkeys" all had turbans or patka. I can see why some Sikhs are upset by this portrayal of Sardars.

The Punjabis that were clean-shaven and not wearing turbans were more intelligent and stylish in the film, as well.

If I hadn't read that post, I might never have noticed this in the film. My awareness of this issue made those parts of the film mildly embarassing. I'll have to look into this particular bit of Eastern PC awareness some more.

I wonder why (if this is being done deliberately, and not by some insensitive quest for comic relief) Bollywood has this opinion of turbaned Sikhs? Is this a cultural trend linked with the horrors that happened after the assassination of Indira Gandhi or what?

Funny; when people here in the West overreact to a character in a movie and cry that it's un-PC (Jar Jar Binks, anyone?) I just laugh and say get over it, I don't see how that is supposed to be an insult to Asians (or blacks, or whites, or whoever). But in this case, perhaps because it's a different culture and I haven't got the "familiarity breeds contempt" thing going on, I understand why people might be a bit put out by that portrayal of their culture. I personally think JarJar Binks or Pokemon Jynx were not purposefully making fun of a particular people, but I wonder about Bollywood's portrayal of Sardars. The cop character in Aaja Nachle wasn't represented that way, and most of the other films I've seen that had Sikh characters were historical reenactments and weren't trying for comedy.

No comments:

Post a Comment