I sent a letter to Sight & Sound in response to Naman Ramachandran’s review of ‘Namestey London’ – and to my surprise they have published it as ‘Letter of the Month’ and it appears in the July 2007 issue under the title ‘London Squalling’. Here is the full version:
“It is tempting to dismiss Namestey London as just another trite Bollywood film – or even a satire – and take no further notice of it. However, given the fact that Bollywood is one of India’s most visible cultural exports, and the high profile of the film’s leading man Akshay Kumar (as Arjun), it is impossible to ignore the film altogether. Instead, Namastey London deserves to be named and shamed as an offensive, regressive film that not only reinforces racial stereotype but also creates new one, with a shrewd eye on the ultimate goal – mammon.”
THANK GOD someone other than those of us who are on the margins of the margins is saying this!! We have an ally in Ramachandran! Degrading depictions of Brit Asians is the norm in Bollywood films – our ungodliness and scant respect for Indian culture is what these writers, directors, producers, actors see – but in fact as a group – Brit Asians are very conservative, complicated, capitalist and carry a huge dose of romanticism for Indian culture and it is the Brit Asian that has created the monster – Bollywood films designed for the western market..
The trouble is that most Bollywood films are sans intelligence apart from a handful (Guru, Rang de Basanti – these are Indian subjects dealing with Indian themes and stories so therefore steeped in truth and not pop videos that go on for three hours) – and yes, on the whole the main interest is money as is with any other industry. Dumbing down started in the 60’s in Hindi cinema and now appears to be at its height – perhaps we are seeing visions of what will happen to the kind of films that we in Britain may make in the future.
As more and more British Asian (in-authentic) artists are relegated to the side lines and the influx of Indian (real) artists dominating the arts scene – many Brit Asians have strategically gone to live in India so that white Brits will commission or buy their work. The in-authenticness of the Brit Asian as viewed by the white established is now even more in a state of intense sharp focus.