Why Are Indians Only Given Asian Roles In International Films?

By Mahika Verma

Most of the roles that Indian actors get in Hollywood, are primarily Asian and not generic, meaning that their heritage and colours are a big part of their character. In essence, they are the token character fitted in for ‘diversity’.

But has anyone ever thought of it why that is? Because truly I never did. That’s offensive to us as Indians when we think of this but what exactly are the reasons behind this kind of casting?

We have seen Asian actors playing Asian roles and none actually got a main role except for Priyanka Chopra in Quantico. Remember those two girls from harry potter series Padma and Parvati Patil, even in the movie they were shown in Indian wear. And from this we can see that our culture overlaps our identity, even if we as people want to come above our cultural limitations the world has assumed that we’re not coming up.

Remember those two girls from Harry Potter series Padma and Parvati Patil, even in the movie they were shown in Indian wear. And from this, we can see that our culture overlaps our identity, even if we want to come above our cultural limitations the world has just assumed that we’re cannot.

asian roles

Why Is India Not Ready To Face The Truth?

Hollywood is a total opposite of Bollywood, where Bollywood prefers more of unrealistic and fictional stories they believe in realism.

They have no limitations as to what can be shown and what cannot, and while they are happy facing the reality of today, on the other hand, our censor board and other factors are playing their own game in keeping our sanskaars intact.

As it happened last year, with Udta Punjab and now Lipstick Under My Burka etc, the Censor Board it seems is extremely against any realistic portrayal of the citizens that would shed away the cultural weight we are under.

Producer Anurag Kashyap was is in the limelight for a very long time regarding this very issue but as usual, nothing happened.

According to me, this is one of the reasons why we are not given roles beyond our own culture because we are limited in terms of acting and presenting the kind of roles that Hollywood does.

Family Stardom

Bollywood is quickly becoming a family business section, populating itself with star kids and relatives of big stars. But is this really correct?

Nepotism is just increasing day by day, and it is pretty clear that the star parents will be using their big connections to get their kids that dream big break. For an outsider, someone who has almost no connections in Bollywood will probably find it 10 times more difficult to break into the industry than a star kid.

And of course, results in the star kid being limited to just Bollywood way of acting and only good for that token Indian character in a Hollywood film.

Bad American Accent

And yes the very common area of problem with Asian actors is the accent, yes they try very hard to get the American accent but always end with a blunder of American cum Indian English.

Even more embarrassing is when it is very much obvious that this person is putting on an accent. Why do you think Irfan Khan and Deepika Padukone are appreciated in this area?!

Because they don’t put on an accent, they speak in their native accent, even if it might be different from the American counterpart.

Another reason why accent is so important is because of the stereotype that Hollywood has made, where it is just assumed that all Indians speak like Apu from The Simpsons.

That is not true, but putting on a fake accent is even worse.

asian roles

Whitewashing Of Asian Roles

But you want to the actual true reason why Indians are given such stereotypical Asian roles only and not the really good ones?

Becuase of whitewashing.

In the last couple of years, a lot of noise has been raised over the whitewashing, which means casting a white actor even if the character is originally from some other culture. Tilda Swinton, Emma Stone, Scarlett Johansson and more such actors have been cast in roles that are non-white and are quite important and crucial characters.

So basically the matter is not that there are not good, lead roles that Asians can play but that most of the meaty roles are given off to white actors and it is only the stereotyped characters that are then left for Indian actors to play.

Image Credits: Google Images

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