Actor Abhay Deol says showcasing Indian men as nerds and women as ‘exotic’ is one of the stereotypes American mainstream cinema should stop, as there are more to explore.
Abhay told IANS: ” I think stereotyping people is a reality whether it is in Bollywood or Hollywood. Even in our cinema, we stereotype few communities. But if we look at mainstream American cinema and television, I would say, we Indians are shown in two extremes. On-screen, Indian men are usually shown as nerds and Indian women are shown as exotic, attractive and beautiful. This kind of stereotyping puts a community in a pigeonhole which I do not like. Having said that I do not want to look at the past anymore because we are changing the conversation with better roles, better representation and better storytelling. I see no reason on holding on to the past and sulk about it, we are storytellers, we rather should change it.”
Citing the example of Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Manjari Makijany, who recently directed a Disney film ‘Spin’ said, “She is the face of change that we want to see to break the stereotype of representation of south Asian character. Casting actors like her in lead roles whether it is in ‘Quantico’ or in films in which she played a substantial part because of her talent, is the way forward. That is the way forward, instead of casting Indian actors like ‘taxi driver’ etc.”
She went on adding, “I think people also have a tendency of making Indian characters speaking with a put-on accent in western cinema. They think we talk like that all the time. Listen, there is no one Indian accent when we speak in English. People from north Indian speak in one kind of accent in English, which is different from the south. But western cinema stereotyped that for the longest time. Not all the Indian community is loud, that is another stereotype. But I am hopeful that like Priyanka, there will be more role models from South Asia to break stereotypes in the western cinema.”
(Arundhuti Banerjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)