Inclusivity on screen has been a long-debated topic of discussion. We, cine lovers, have witnessed the slow yet progressive shift in the same through the years, especially with regards to South Asian representation. From being outcast to having a side role to now being in the lead, the growth has been phenomenal.
An Indian female protagonist leading the global show, Bridgerton S2, is indeed a step forward in the right direction, but, at the same time, it poses crucial questions on the accuracy of cultural representation. While the same debate has taken over the internet, another brilliant step came from the Oscars as they hosted an event to celebrate South Asian talent in Hollywood.
Coming in as good news for all the artists, we had a chance of discussing the concept and growth of South Asian representation in cinema with some of the leading Hindi Film actors. Commenting that it is a great time to be in the entertainment business, Esha Gupta said, “I think it is just about the fact that the world is getting more open and smaller. The east is meeting the west. Talent was always there, but now it is finally getting a chance and visibility all across the world. It is a beautiful time to be in the entertainment industry to witness and be a part of the same.”
In a shift in perception of beauty, Bridgerton placed Kate Sharma, aka Simone Ashley, (a woman of colour) at the centre of the show. In a similar context, performer Richa Ravi Sinha commented, “People’s view on brown skin or South Asian women has been changing. It is nicer to hear ‘she is pretty than ‘she is pretty for a South Asian / brown skin woman’. Now, we have characters like Devi Vishwakarma in Never Have I Ever and Kate Sharma in Bridgerton who are redefining the beauty in the global cinema while representing a woman of colour.”
Multi-lingual star Saie Tamhankar said, “As an actor, it is an incredible feeling to have a chance of witnessing the change in the context of cultural inclusivity in global cinema. The recent few shows are definitely a massive step forward in the cause, especially with Bridgerton being led by an Indian female character. It is a major shift in the narrative of South Asian Representation in entertainment.”
Adding to the debate on a more in-depth portrayal of our cultures, she added, “While having said that, I would love to watch more culturally rich characters from our homelands than simply a matter of fact in the storyline. It would be even nicer to have a drama with in-depth knowledge of the vivid culture.”
Nimrat Kaur, an established actor in the west, believes that Indian actors have always been a part of global cinema. She said, “We have had phenomenal actors from India represent the South Asian community for eons. Saeed Jaffrey, Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Irrfan Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and many new actors are now coming to the forefront. It is a marvelous time when the world looks like one cosmopolitan where there is a multitude of ethnicities in the cities we live in, and our cinemas should look the same.”
“It is a great time where parts are written are colour blind. I have played two characters where I don’t confirm my background. One is Rebecca Yedlin in Wayward Pines and Yana Seldon in the upcoming show, Foundation S2,” she further added.
Well, it is, indeed, an exciting time for cinema! And we can’t wait for what the film world has in store next.