I have to say, I was pretty excited when Frieda Pinto recently became a L’Oreal girl.
At last, an Indian girl on mainstream advertising! I think it’s safe to label that: progress.
As a young (culturally confused) British Indian whose television and film intake is made up of a significant percentage of American productions, you tend to notice the lack of other young Indians out there on the big and little screens.
This is basically the stock Hollywood character we’ve been dealing with for some time:
Teenage Indian Male Dork: Likes maths or physics. Very nerdy. Probably wears glasses. Has a moustache or at the very least, a mono-brow. Slight Indian accent, even though he’s American. Terrible with girls. Above all, is NOT cool.
British film and TV is slightly different of course. I remember when Goodness Gracious Me became a massive success. For me, it felt like a giant sigh of relief. Finally, we could laugh at ourselves and everyone could laugh with us! East is East is another perfect example.
Those were big steps forward I think. Taking Indian culture and putting it into the mainstream. The next step is seeing Indian actors performing in roles that have nothing to do with being Indian. And I think we’re getting there.
I am very excited about one of the newer characters in 90210 (yes. 90201. I make no apologies), Raj, played by Manish Dayal. He is Indian, as his name suggests, but the fact that he’s Indian has nothing to do with his character. He has an American accent because he IS American. He skateboards. He’s a love interest. He’s cool!
Then there’s Cece in New Girl played by Hannah Simone. She’s a gorgeous leggy model, top totty one might say. She has all the main male characters wrapped around her little finger. And interestingly, I didn’t even realise she was Indian until I saw this (which is quite brilliant):
The point is, we’re getting there!