To digress a bit here, I’m done unpacking my cartons, have set up my kitchen, decorated up the living room, done up my Poojai room & having arranged my home the way I want it – basically I’m free now and free time = FB time
Shahrukh Khan’s apparent dream project Ra.One featured him playing a character that was a Tamil nightmare. He was being overly, typically, unrealistically Tamil. Never knew saying “aiyyo” in every second sentence, eating with hands and mixing curd in noodles were the basic requirements for playing a Tamilian on screen. Not to forget his abnormally long name. Perhaps the best known and most famous stereotype is Krishnan Iyer Yem Yey from Agneepath, the lungi-wearing nariyal-cutting, and “aiyooji’ speaking Tamil character. Little wonder that Iyer was missing from the film’s 2012 remake then, because for one, coconut vendors can speak a decent smattering of English/ Hindi and secondly, it is no longer 1950, thank you very much.
Why do we let it happen to us again & again? Agreed there are certain idiosyncrasies unique to certain communities & also specific traits & behavioral patterns people from a particular place adhere to. Play around with them; find humor in it if you want to too. But please for heaven’s sake don’t dish out caricatures in the name of creative/ artistic liberties.
I’m a Tamilian – a typical Iyer Tamil Brahmin & I don’t have an accent; not that I have anything against people who do. But I have often come across “Aap South Indian ho? Par aap toh kaafi achi hindi bolte ho”, “Aap Chennai se belong nahi karte? South Indians ki toh woh hi native place hai na ”, “Aap ne hindi ke liye classes kari thi?”, “You sure have an impressive dress sense, absolutely unlike a South Indian” , if you thought that was all, it gets better “Mumbai mein rehte ho, toh aapko Madrasi toh aati nahi hogi?” I explain where I need to & just smile & walk away when I feel a reply is unwarranted.
Like I said at the beginning, glamour at times wins over the basic courtesy of treating an individual as an individual and not a projection of where they come from? Why do we get so judgmental? It would be unfair to blame it on the big screen.Stereotypes exist in films because stereotypes exist in society; and cinema, as it has been said a billion times, is a reflection of society.
South Indians are dark, they wear either white veshtis or chequred dhotis, their accents are thicker than sambhar & they are a part of either the intelligentia or the mafia or the sidekick to provide comic relief (which is soooo not funny). At times the plots are hackneyed & the typecasts are typical,but the common denominator is the fact that the individuals are pigeonholed & the characters labeled.
I’m a second generation Mumbaikar. I speak Hindi & have even headed the Hindi cultural Society as it’s secretary while in college two years in a row while simultaneously being a Secretary of the Tamil Association too. I am fluent in Marathi & have a more than working knowledge of Gujrati & No; I’m not listing my achievements here but just reiterating my choice. Give me an Ananya over a Meenalochini anyday.