The White Bollywood

2340 Words10 Pages
From Raja Harishchandra (1913) to The Good Road (2013), the cinema of India, an extremely important part of our cultural identity celebrating its centenary this year. Has been working as an ambassador of India to a global audience since the day of its inception. In India, it is often seen that films made in Hindi targeted at a larger audience, commonly known as mainstream movies or Bollywood films, employ a different grammar of filmmaking than that is used in so-called sensible or parallel cinema while representing or portraying different aspects and sections of society, race, culture, gender and class. In this paper, I try to focus on the representations of Caucasian characters, or the white, in popular Hindi cinema, or Bollywood films,…show more content…
If Hollywood has techniques that permit its fictional world to appear internally coherent and invisibly put together, Indian films are orchestrated by another sensibility of coherence and reality (Jaikumar 25). This “another” sense of coherence and reality often plays a vital role in the portrayal of characters belonging to different ethnic backgrounds in the mainstream Bollywood flicks. The reason why non-Indian characters from the subcontinent, i.e. the Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Nepalese, Bhutanese, Afghans or Sri Lankans are not being considered in this discussion is that the socio-cultural gap between India and her neighbouring countries are relatively less and how they are portrayed in Bollywood films demands a new discussion altogether due to extremely convoluted bilateral or multilateral political, social and historical relationships between India and any of these countries. Unlike the Hollywood, where in the 1930s, white actors had to play Asian roles by putting on extra make-up, Hindi films had white actors playing white characters. Among the Hollywood films, we see Douglass Dumbrille playing Mohammed Khan and Noble Johnson playing Ram Singh in the famous Gary Cooper film The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (dir. Henry Hathaway/ 1935), C. Henry Gordon as Surat Khan, J. Carroll Naish as Subedar Major Puran Singh and Scotty Beckett as Prema Singh in the Errol Flynn starrer, an historically inaccurate The Charge of the Light Brigade
Get Access