Thanks to the massive population of India, every movie-production house in the world tries to include our 'cultures' in their films in order to make us relate to them and watch them again and again.
One of the biggest examples of this phenomenon is Marvel Studios, which is responsible for creating some of the most engaging and entertaining movies in the 21st century under the umbrella that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is.
Also Read: 5 Indian References Made In The MCU
Having said that, there are multiple racial stereotypes and cliches Hollywood movies and sitcoms continue to show onscreen that are unacceptable. Here are four of them:1. Always With The Slums
Yes, India has one of Asia’s biggest slums in Dharavi, Mumbai but that does not mean that all of us live in them.
In 2012, when The Avengers first introduced Bruce Banner in the MCU, his location was disclosed to Natasha Romanoff as the slums of Kolkata and it drew a lot of criticism by the Indian film industry and rightly so.
“Kolkata has a rich culture and heritage, and a filmmaker should respect that. There are two scenes about India, and they only show slums," actor Rituparna Sengupta told Hindustan Times. "It could have been done in better taste."2. Why The Yellow Filter?
This problem is a lot bigger than India. Most of the Asian countries including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have undergone the ‘yellow filter’ effect in numerous Hollywood films. The latest and most prominent of such films is Netflix’s Extraction.
While the scenes that were shot in Australia seem to be the normal shade, the rest of the film which was supposed to be in Bangladesh (but was shot in multiple Asian countries) came with an oversaturated yellow tone.
This yellow filter is used to depict warm and tropical climate but it also makes the surroundings look uglier and unhealthy. According to Matador Network, this filter is used by American films to depict countries that are stereotyped as impoverished, polluted, or war zones (or all three).3. Indian Guys With The Unbelievable Cringey Accent
A milestone in the 'funny Indian accent' stereotype can be traced back to February 25, 1990, when The Simpsons introduced an orange-coloured Apu with the nastiest accent, in their otherwise all-yellow skinned people universe.
What’s worse is that it was a white guy, Hank Azaria, who did the voiceover for the supposedly Indian character. It took over 30 years and a freaking documentary by comedian Hari Kondabolu named The Problem With Apu to finally get over this issue in 2020 when Azaria “willingly” stepped down as Apu’s voice artist.
“Once I realized that that was the way this character was thought of, I just didn’t want to participate in it anymore.”
Hank Azaria says that he will no longer play the "Simpsons" character of Apu, which has been criticized as a demeaning stereotype. https://t.co/mgR0Mwf9L4
Kunal Nayyar’s character in The Big Bang Theory, Rajesh Koothrappali was another case of a walking house of stereotypes. An Indian guy who can’t talk to women because he is too nervous and needs alcohol to open his mouth, who comes from a house of arranged-marriage believers and whose parents house, albeit seen through the Raj’s computer screen, is full of mandalas in the background.4. The Comic Relief:
Over the decades, the way someone from a certain country speaks or looks, has clearly had a lot to do with their character portrayal in Hollywood films.
A Frenchman’s accent is considered sexy, Africans are seen as the mighty and powerful, Russians are always the rude and tough bad guys, and the moment an Indian guy says “hello”, people are falling on the floor, laughing their asses off.
While Apu and Raj Koothrappali have been in use for years, one of the biggest additions to this category came in 2016 with Rayn Reynolds’ Deadpool introducing us to Dopinder who, surprise surprise, is a frustrated, insecure cab drive with an incredibly thick accent.
Sure, the English film industry over the years, has become a lot more inclusive and racially sensitive than the time when Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom came out in which our kings were seen eating snakes stuffed with smaller snakes, drinking a cup of eyeball soup and relishing frozen monkey brains for dessert.
Having said that, soft and 'accidental' racism continues to find its way to the silver screen from time to time and directors and producers cheekily try to pass it by as 'normal' while giving further weightage to the pre-existing stereotypes against India and that’s unacceptable.