21st Century White Man’s Burden?: Basmati Blues Gives Indians The Blues
India may have achieved independence from white rule decades ago, but several influential parts of society such as cinema, persistently display the nation as if nothing has changed. A perfect example is a new Hollywood movie, Basmati Blues, which displays each and every offensive stereotype linked to the nation and a 21st-century version of what seems to be a take on the white man’s burden.
White Man’s Burden All Over Again?
Basmati Blues was released in India on November 24th, 2017, and will be released in the USA sometime next year. While it’s slightly exciting to see covers of films that seemingly embrace diverse cultures, this one’s trailer turned out to be offensive, stereotypical, and downright disappointing (as most American movies, songs, and shows about India tend to be).
The general plot of the film revolves around a white woman, played by Brie Larson, introducing a genetically modified form of rice to helpless Indian farmers in hopes of helping them out. She soon discovers her attempt to help them actually did more harm than good, as the rice evidently harms the local farmers rather than helping them out. So basically, white people going to India claiming they will help them, but in fact harm them for their own greed? This part of the film seemed about right as it reeks of imperialist ideals. However, the accuracy quickly shatters to pieces as the story progresses, and miss white lady decides to help these poor, uneducated, barbarian villagers out and fight the corporation that hired her to bring the rice to the country. The director not-so-subtly implies that “as always,” India needs the goras to bring stability to the nation.
Other Reasons It Causes The Blues
The filmmakers issued a statement as a response to critics expressing their anger towards the trailer stating the film is,
“…not about an American going abroad to solve India’s problems. At its heart, this film is about two people who reach across cultures, fight against corporate greed, and find love.”
Don’t get us wrong filmmakers, we love us some romance too, just not at the expense of demeaning our entire nation’s culture and way of life.
Besides the clear flaw in the storyline, the film horridly features almost every stereotype westerners have about our nation. Common themes such as unbearably spicy food, fetishized poverty, exoticized culture, and poor English are thrown in Indian society’s face.
A tweet referring to the film perfectly summarizes it,
“Oh great it’s cringey white-people-in-India-saving-the-brown-savages season again.”
Dear filmmakers and other westerners, India didn’t need to be “saved” back then, doesn’t need to be saved now, and will never need to be saved. Thanks for the concern though.
P.S. our food is not too spicy, your food is just bland.