15 Stereotypes Indians Are Tired Of Seeing In Western Movies & TV


Hollywood productions (and English language movies basically) should go a good distance by way of illustration of identities just like the so-called ‘brown id’. While brown-skinned characters from India and its neighbors have been featured in English movies for a very long time, they typically fall prey to stereotypes or appropriation. Even although portraying an Indian character and their struggles may seem to be ‘Oscar bait’, among the components in these tales hardly really feel relatable to native Indians in addition to the Indian-American diaspora.


Actors and filmmakers like Aziz Ansari, Gurinder Chadha, Hasan Minhaj, and Dev Patel are altering the attitude to an extent, portraying characters and writing tales past the ‘curry-eating’, ‘mystical and unique’ narratives. Otherwise, with in style exhibits and flicks, some stereotypes can, sadly, be shaped within the heads of non-Indian viewers.

Updated on twenty fifth October by Fawzia Khan:

Indian tradition has been extra in focus than ever with exhibits and flicks like Indian Matchmaking and Wedding Season going viral on Netflix. The unraveling of dangerous stereotypes about brown heritage, their occupations and their roles on this planet is a sluggish course of, and Hollywood has given loads of tropes that inaccurately describe Indians and their way of life. With Indians shattering ceilings in each sector, these must be accomplished away with, for good.

Cows, Dirty Roads And A Lack Of Infrastructure

More typically that not, Hollywood tends to juxtapose the great thing about the West with the “dirty” East. Shots of a sterile white nation minimize to filth, air pollution, dusty slums, and unhealthy roads in India, which isn’t correct in any respect. The largest metros of India are extremely modernized, with expressways, skyscrapers, and the like, however that is hardly ever depicted within the films.

RELATED: 9 Best Twitter Reactions and Memes To Indian Matchmaking Season 2For some cause, cows are at all times a part of these visuals. One can be shocked to go to the nation and see that cows are largely present in pastoral lands and barely in an city setting. Slumdog Millionaire is the most important offender.

Everybody Does Not Work In Call Centers Or Medicine

A promo shot for Outsourced

Indians additionally are usually boxed into the professions that they are often proven in on the massive display screen. Whether it was the affect of Outsourced or different exterior stereotypes, always depicting Indians as name heart employees simply would not work anymore. Still, exhibits like Family Guy make complete episodes about it (like “Road to India,” for instance).

Similarly, the second occupation that’s assigned to the brown man or girl is that of a health care provider. As a folks, Indians are very clever, however they do excel in a number of different fields too, which is clear from the Indian actors excelling in Hollywood itself.

Inaccurate Clothing

Devi, Kamala, and Nalini together in Never Have I Ever

Every single time an Indian seems on-screen, in India, they’re adorned in elaborate saris and heavy jewellery. This was even seen in Never Have I Ever when Nalini visited Chennai, even if the present goals to undo these sorts of stereotypes. Weighty gold jewels and silk saris are reserved for weddings and festivals, and most Indians costume in informal western put on like denims, blouses, and clothes at most occasions.

Netflix’s romantic comedy Wedding Season really offered an correct image of wedding ceremony put on too, which was not gaudy and outdated like most different brown-depicting films.

The Shy/ Nerdy Character

Jamal wins a cash prize in Slumdog Millionaire.

A prerequisite to being an Indian character appears to be awkwardness, which is the gross generalization of a complete inhabitants. Everyone within the nation shouldn’t be a Raj Koothrapalli or Jamal Malik — there are Kumars and Tom Haverfords (along with his good concepts) too who’ve extra to their persona.

Assigning Indians the position of the nerd is a thinly veiled option to sideline a brown character, and Indians want to be seen in main roles which don’t reinforce this cookie-cutter stereotype onto them.

The Tour Guide For White People

Dev Patel in Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Another banal trope position which is handed to Indians is that of the token tour information to a fascinated white character visiting the nation. This information additionally doubles as a religious guru for stated character, typically displaying them how India can cleanse them.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel typecast Dev Patel into this position, and this character archetype has been handed out to many brown actors, typically not even named, in a number of “feel-good” films.

Hinduism Isn’t The Only Religion In India

Julia Roberts praying in a Hindu temple in scene from Eat, Pray, Love

In many depictions, Indians are equated to Hinduism. Surely, Hinduism is a serious faith within the nation, however its various panorama additionally harbors Islam, Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, and different faiths. Hence, displaying all American-Indians as worshipers of the idols of Hindu gods and goddesses, full with Hindu-style choices and incense sticks, is simply generalizing Indians beneath one class.

Further, even with the Hindu Indians, not all of them are intensely religious believers. Just just like the generic and dominant American Christian characters in in style media, some could be of stronger religion whereas some may hardly worship their deities in any respect.

Tacky Accents

Apu With Marge And Maggie In The Simpsons

It has been mechanically assumed that each one Indian accents are greater than typically funny-sounding and grammatically incorrect. The root reason for this was racial ignorance and the sooner depictions of Indians by white actors (sporting brownface) like Peter Sellers in The Party and Fisher Stevens in Short Circuit.

Of course, the stereotypical ‘Indian accent’ reached disastrous heights with the character Apu in The Simpsons. Apu was so offensive to the diaspora that even a documentary referred to as The Problem With Apu was launched in 2017, dissecting the stereotypes and racial micro-aggressions the character introduced. Actor Kal Penn even revealed on Twitter how some studios wished him to have an ‘genuine Apu accent’ in his roles! Recently, Apu’s voice actor Hank Azaria apologized on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and stepped down from the position.

Romanticizing Poverty

A still from Slumdog Millionaire

India has a regarding price of social inequality and poverty. Some movies like Lion have tried displaying a financially-troubled protagonist in a sensible and empathetic gentle. But in any other case, international movies typically are likely to romanticize poverty (or present ‘poverty porn’ as some may say) or paint everything of India as a backward nation with no trendy infrastructure. The Darjeeling Limited, Million Dollar Arm, and plenty of others mock and generalize Indian cities as having nothing however shoddy shacks of buildings and half-naked kids.

Indian administrators body their scenes within the backdrops of ruined buildings, crowded streets, and cows in the midst of site visitors, however they paint the context as being from a selected space in India moderately than generalizing the complete nation as an undeveloped city jungle.

The White Savior Narrative

A still from Million Dollar Arm

Movies that cope with the interplay of international and Indian characters evoke pity and sympathy, however possibly they’ll do higher with a extra empathetic portrayal moderately than a sympathetic one. Lion and Million Dollar Arm each depict white characters altering the fates of poor Indians. Both are primarily based on true tales and do justice to their supply materials to an extent.

However, Indian illustration also needs to contain portrayals of impartial characters who could make it on their very own, moderately than relying on white folks on a regular basis. Colonial cultural hegemony is sadly nonetheless engrained in India after two centuries of British rule. ‘Fair pores and skin’ remains to be glorified even in Indian communities, with equity being equated to a really fascinating high quality. Hence, bolder Indian lead characters are wanted not simply to struggle the generic white savior narrative, however the racist biases that some Indians themselves internalize of their ideas.

Bollywood Isn’t The Only Indian Film Industry

Raj and Bernadette do a Bollywood dance in his dream on The Big Bang Theory

Bollywood and Hollywood might share scenes, however the Hindi movie business shouldn’t be the one mode of filmmaking. India produces movies in the remainder of its languages too, with some trendy gems buying crucial acclaim at worldwide movie festivals as properly. These languages vary from Assamese to Malayalam to Bengali, and so forth. Further, not each Indian movie is riddled with Bollywood clichés like musical numbers, grandiose units, and gestures of romance.

Scenes like the ultimate dance to Jai Ho in Slumdog Millionaire and the marriage scene in The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel reinforce the notions that Indian celebrations largely contain grand, choreographed songs and dances like a typical Bollywood movie.

Exoticism and Mysticism

George Lucas filming Temple of Doom

Cults like these in Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom, and the religious journeys in India as proven in Eat, Pray, Love, paint India as a extremely ‘unique’ land full of mysticism and superstitious beliefs.

RELATED: 10 Things From The Indiana Jones Franchise That Haven’t Aged Well

The argument towards this stereotype can once more be defined as the purpose for India’s multi-religious id. Not all Indians are blind worshipers of bearded mystics and gurus. As of final 12 months, about 2.9 million Indians are atheists (through The Print), whereas some contemplate themselves to be rationalists regardless of holding onto their spiritual id. Otherwise, India is a various land of its personal, moderately than an unique, archaic, and divine fantasy world of kinds.

There’s More To Music Than Just Classical

Ravi Shankar, the Indian sitar maestro

India does boast of historic classical and people music types, having exported maestros like sitarist Ravi Shankar to the remainder of the world. Still, such types of music hardly make their option to the Indian music mainstream in immediately’s occasions. Film music or impartial music normally dominates the playlists of many Indian demographics. Many impartial artists are experimenting or reinterpreting international genres too, be it hip-hop or electronica.

That’s why moderately than counting on a ‘conventional’ sound, movies shot in India can function a number of new-age Indian artists and their musical types.

Purposely Complicated Or Inaccurate Names

Apu and Homer Simpson in The Simpsons

Indians, Arabs, Koreans, and plenty of different immigrants get mocked for his or her names which are tough to pronounce by the dominant citizen teams within the international locations they settle. Some even should Anglicize or shorten their names for the comfort of Westerners. Instead of mispronouncing or altering the names of the folks from this diaspora, possibly the Hollywood narrative could make an effort to precisely present some Indian names, as it is not at all times that tough.

Even although immediately, international productions do attempt to precisely painting Indian characters and their names, there was once Indian characters with names difficult and exaggerated past measure. The largest case but once more is Apu’s surname, Nahasapeemapetilon. Older movies had been much more careless in christening their Indian characters. In Annie (1978), an Indian bodyguard was merely named Punjab (an Indian state, rarely used as an individual’s identify).

The Cuisine Doesn’t Always Make Non-Indians Sick

A still from The Hundred Foot Journey

Indian meals may present a spicier culinary expertise to Americans or English people who find themselves not used to the style. There’s an precise time period ‘Delhi Belly,’ referring to the upset abdomen that international vacationers have after they go to India.

RELATED: No Reservations And 9 Other Delicious Movies Where Food Is The Star

Western portrayals have typically decreased Indian meals as one thing closely spicy or gooey that results in diarrhea. Such tropes are performed round with Jon Hamm and Alan Arkin’s characters in Million Dollar Arm. Another done-to-death stereotype is referring to Indian gravy dishes as ‘curry’. There are so many various meat and vegetable-based dishes from all Indian states that it is onerous to categorize any explicit Indian dish as a curry. A great various to such clichés will be The Hundred-Foot Journey which normalizes the cooking habits of Indians.

Supporting Characters For Comic Relief

Kunal Nayyar as Rajesh Raj Koothrappali talking to Howard in the comic book store in The Big Bang Theory

Indian-Americans had been typically proven as store clerks, drivers, medical doctors, or some other supporting character. Often decreased to caricatures with the aforementioned accents, they had been hardly given any scope for character growth or background tales.

However, now, with barely increased illustration, this perspective is altering. Examples like Aziz Ansari’s lead position in Master of None and Rahul Kohli in The Haunting Of Bly Manor are serving to in giving Indian-origin American and British actors a extra nuanced and multi-layered portrayal.

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