Ever since I started blogging, this is something I have been wanting to write about. But with the reading, reviewing and the challenges, my temper had fizzled out and this was immediately sidelined. What set me off once again was this wonderful book review by FictionFan.
The template to be used while portraying India in literature or media
If it is a serious subject
1. Some form of continuing strife – maybe caste, religion, financial, anything at all but overall misery. Majority of population still illiterate of course.
2. Intensely spiritual teachings – saadhus, rivers, some cryptic messages. If you want to go all the way, throw in some snake charmers and the Great Indian Rope Trick. (although I must admit, it is a pretty cool trick). All of the above can be found in pretty much every Amazing Race episode featuring India.
If its a light-hearted rom-com/comic caper
1. All Indians must have long, tough-to-pronounce names, thick accents and dress in garish colours
2. They must be celebrating something 24×7- preferably dancing to Hindi music
3. They must be eating/cooking/offering everyone something to eat. In this, laddoos occupy highest place of honour. The unsuspecting westerner always falls sick after eating Indian food.
At this point you may want to ask me “So wait ! Are you saying all these are untrue ? No troubles at all ? We read the news too you know…..”
Of course not ! India,like any other country, has its share of problems. Sometimes it makes you want to shout in frustration and ignorance is definitely bliss. But it hasn’t been all gloom and doom ever since civilization started here.
The portrayal of cultural aspects also tends to be very one-dimensional and this, in a country which has 29 States, 18 official languages and countless dialects among many other things.
Now you ask “So you just don’t want the truth to be told ? Just want everyone to paint a rosy picture ..”
Not true either. All I’m saying is that if you are going to talk about all the problems, make sure it is a balanced and accurate representation. Like what Neel Mukherjee has done in The Lives Of Others where he writes
…..some grudging acknowledgement had to be made to social progress……
If it is a comedy, make it believable and less of a caricature like Raj from the Big Bang Theory so that we can have a good laugh at ourselves.
To make sure the message doesn’t get lost in the midst of all my ranting, let me borrow the words of Adichie
Seriously, its not all that bad a country ! Now excuse me while I go and celebrate my 50th post on this blog with a choreographed dance routine in a railway station.