Movies Pop Culture

I live in India and love Hollywood. But why is it so hard for Americans to stop using awful Indian stereotypes?

I’ve grown up with a love for Hollywood films and American television shows. What I don’t love though is the widely inaccurate and lack o representation when it comes to Indians and India itself. 

Honestly, where are we and why are we perceived in such an incorrect way?

The only shows I can think of that accurately represent the Indian community are The Mindy Project and Master of None – all thanks to the greatness behind the screen.


Without their help, we can’t rely on Hollywood movies and television to get it right. In their world, Indian representation is meager at best. When we do find ourselves represented – it’s so highly inaccurate and grossly stereotypical that it saddens and frustrates me at the same time.

[bctt tweet=”Indian representation is meager at best.” username=”wearethetempest”]

Take, for example, Raj in The Big Bang Theory or the way India’s poverty was displayed in Slumdog Millionaire.

Don’t misunderstand me here, I don’t have a problem with showing the reality of India, but it seems like Hollywood only sees this poverty-ridden part of my country and can’t seem to snap out of it.

India is so much more than cows on the roads, noisy markets, and Holi. 

We don’t play Holi 24/7, all 365 days of the year, y’all.  It’s a festival that comes once a year and it means a lot to us, but it’s not all that there is to us.

Reducing India to such a narrow image is disappointing.

When it comes to characters specifically – we’re either highly qualified doctors, teachers, engineers or we’re taxi drivers. That’s it. There’s absolutely no way an Indian living abroad could fall into a middle category, right?


This is appalling, considering the fact that we have a population of 1.3 billion, with 29 states, 22 languages, and 9 recognized religions. 

We should surely get at least decent amount of representation in an industry as big as Hollywood, right?

Diversity has always been poor in Hollywood and continues to be so, despite so many talented Indian (and PoC) actors and producers trying to change that.

[bctt tweet=” Reducing India to such a narrow image is disappointing.” username=”wearethetempest”]

It’s worth mentioning that Priyanka Chopra’s foray into the industry has been refreshing after watching her dominate Bollywood for years. 

When I see her onscreen, repping India at such an international level – it makes my heart warm.


As cheesy as it may sound, 12-year-old me struggled to find a character or actor in Hollywood that she could relate to. But 21-year-old me finds that solace through Mindy Kaling and Priyanka Chopra.

Hollywood filmmakers shrink India into this minuscule image of what is perceived and it doesn’t do justice to what we actually are.

Our accent is stereotyped – so incorrectly. 

Not every Indian sounds like Appu from The Simpsons, FYI. And we definitely don’t dance the way Major Lazer and his pals did in the “Lean On” music video.

[bctt tweet=” It’s sad to see our culture being reduced to practically nothing but stereotypes on screen.” username=”wearethetempest”]

The modern Indian is anything but what Hollywood presumes them to be. They pursue unorthodox artistic careers, they’re not all socially awkward, and they’re definitely not reeking of curry.

On one end, our culture and our people get stereotyped and misrepresented to no end in movies and television.

On the other end, they ignore or appropriate our culture to no end.

There was an episode of the Netflix series Fuller House where get this:  Not a single Indian character on the show, but they threw an Indian-themed party for one of the characters and there was a cow in the backyard. 

Because all Indians have cows in their backyard, right?

This narrative is so ignorant and blatantly offensive. India boasts of multiple metropolitan cities that coexist alongside villages. My country is a dichotomy and is beautiful as well. 

So don’t reduce it to what it’s not and don’t try to tell me what I look like.

We are all so beautifully unique and diverse in our own ways, with our own cultures.


We’re more than just your stereotypes.

Movies Pop Culture

Legendary Bollywood actor Om Puri passed away, but nobody’s talking about it

A major Bollywood star passed away recently and his legacy ought to live on beyond the universe of Indian cinema alone.

Om Puri, India’s first crossover actor, maintains a legacy that dates back to the 70s with breakthrough films from the 80s. Though he maintains countless hit roles and is an icon in South Asia, he contributed some of the best he had to offer to western cinema too.

In an age where news travels fast and far, it is no surprise that we hear about the passing of iconic celebrities repeatedly. The increase in news accessibility makes it seem as if the world has been losing more stars, and maybe that is the case. In either case, the acknowledgement of all celebrities that have given a piece of themselves to contribute to global pop culture is important.

Which is why I wonder why there was not more coverage on Om Puri from Western outlets.

Like many digital writers, I understand how vital it is to cover stories on popular topics. That is all the more reason to add international stars to the list of artists we ought to remember. If a topic is not locally popular yet, it’s still a big deal to another audience.

I could give you a long amazing list of Om Puri’s Bollywood accomplishments, but for now I’ll remind you of his Western contributions. Many of his western films were hybrid projects, depicting the lives of immigrants, and the relationships between Westerners and South Asians. His “East is East” series was a hit, along with “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and, of course, “The One-Hundred Foot Journey.” Furthermore, he offered his talents to “Ghandi,” “The Jungle Book,” and “Charlie Wilson’s War.”

Om Puri

Puri set the stage as a cross-over actor long before stars such as Quantico actress, Priyanka Chopra, made their appearances. By far, the entrance of Bollywood actors onto the western and Hollywood stages has fared well.

Furthermore, Puri crossed into the Pakistani film industry, a diplomatic move from an Indian actor. One of his latest works reflects his wide-spread wings: “Actor in Law.” Puri even had a voice in the recent film industry boycotts that reflected a strain on Pakistani-Indian relations. Pakistan recently lifted a ban on the airing of Indian films, and recent attacks in Kashmir have introduced tensions towards Pakistani actors in the Bollywood industry. Puri’s comments, which were against the ban on Pakistani actors, put him in a controversial spotlight. However, much of the controversy must have came from commentary he made that could come across unpatriotic for Indians. Furthermore, the mystery surrounding his cause of death remains cloudy.

Foreign influences in film industries bring innovative and refreshing characteristics. Yet, there is little credit given to cross-over actors.

Om Puri

At the end of the day, the lack of coverage I see on Puri’s passing makes me wonder why news outlets shy away from stepping outside the box to report on subjects like cross-over stars. Because of the talent that I have seen other industries contribute to Hollywood, I wonder if I will see more comprehensive coverage in the future.

TV Shows Pop Culture

‘Quantico’ gives a solid go at diversity – but sometimes they failed

Spoiler Alert, y’all.

I’m starting from the top. In case you missed it, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra won People’s Choice Award for favorite actress in a new TV series – for reasons which evade me. It might have something to do with her role as Alex Parrish, an FBI recruit who is suspected of being a terrorist who carried out a deadly attack. The entirety of the show is Alex trying to prove her innocence AND find the real culprit- if that’s not White Savior Complex, I don’t know what is.

Here’s the plot: If she didn’t do it, someone from her class did.

From the trailer, the cast oozed diversity: a South Indian Bollywood actress as lead, a hijabi, an African American woman as head of Quantico’s recruitment program. After the pilot, it all went downhill.

With a diverse cast leading the show and everyone being a suspect, it was only a few episodes in before the hijabi was the prime suspect.

How shocking.

With brief mentions of Alex having an Indian mother and white father, there  is no other way of telling that she represents a minority unless you count the Om bracelet she wears, the fact that she tops her class, naturally, as Indian girls should, and most offensively, that her title as the suspect was ‘JihadiJane’ because, you know, all brown girls are suspect.

[bctt tweet=”After the pilot, it all went downhill.”]

Then there’s the overwhelming who’s-sleeping-with-who web of stories, because catching the perpetrator isn’t captivating enough. I expected as much, since the promotional poster featured Alex handcuffed, with an FBI flag loosely draped around her. I guess she was supposed to be sexy – and it definitely helped.

As for Alex’s story, she found out that her dead dad was also in the FBI, and wants to find out about more about him. She eventually does and is riddled with guilt because he was an FBI agent. Let’s not forget, she killed him years earlier because he abused her mom. This was a fact she needed constant reminding of, because as long as you’re a hero, you can treat your wife like crap. Right?

What really got to me, though, was the hijabi character. Moving past the ‘I am defying my family tradition by being here’ that all hijabis seem to have, is the lack of truth in the hijabi character, Nimah.


Nimah Amin
Nimah Amin

Nimah falls in love with Simon, a mysterious recruit with his own secret – he’s part of the Israeli Defense Force. She eventually invites him over, then removes her hijab in front of him to show him that she likes him. You know, because words aren’t what we use to express feelings. How rudimentary of you, writers, not only do Muslim women stay at home, we can’t speak for ourselves either.

Unveiling the package moment. What the actual eff?

I should also mention the Muslim-shaming ‘Oh you’re missing out’ sentiments and snickers expressed by Alex and another character Shelby towards Nimah as they talk about their flings – very mature for people training to protect the country. Thanks for pulling up that age-old stereotype about Muslim women and their relationships with men, amirite?

[bctt tweet=”Unveiling the package moment. What the actual eff? “]

If stereotyping one Muslim wasn’t bad enough, they did it to an entire Muslim community when Alex took to hiding in a mosque – because where else do fugitives hide? The FBI came looking for her there and her only means of escape was to put on a niqab.

Never in my life have I seen so many niqabis in one mosque.

Lastly, we come to Miranda, who runs the recruitment program. While I do give the costume department a good job for dressing her for her body type, that’s the only thing they’ve done well. Her backstory is her fatherless son, who’s in juvenile detention because he wanted to shoot up a school. Original. For some reason not explained, she fears and distrusts him.

[bctt tweet=”Never in my life have I seen so many niqabis in one mosque.”]

I must admit, in later episodes the show did become more captivating, as less time was spent on the characters and, as you quickly realize, everybody’s hiding something. It was ambitious to have a diverse cast as integral part of the show, but what is needed are writers who are diverse and can bring more faceted perspectives to the stories being featured. Now that’s a show I know I’d tune into.



TV Shows Pop Culture

6 reasons why you absolutely need to watch Quantico

Quantico has already racked up 7.14 million views when it aired on ABC on September 27th. This thriller action series is filled with mystery, insanely hot characters, and an irresistible plot. Not to mention, Priyanka Chopra.

[bctt tweet=”Priyanka. Chopra. ” username=”wearethetempest”]

Here’s why you absolutely need to start watching Quantico, and why you’re bound to love it.

[bctt tweet=”You’re bound to love Quantico” username=”wearethetempest”]

1. Priyanka Chopra. Just look at her.

Bollywood babe Priyanka Chopra plays Alex Parrish, the lead character in Quantico. In the show, she is accused of being the mastermind behind one of the biggest terrorist attacks since 9/11. Could ABC possibly be hinting at the growing number of racial profiling since 9/11? Maybe. Not only could ABC be subtly hinting at this issue with Quantico, but it may also be breaking norms with a South Asian Bollywood actress as the lead role.

2. The mystery.

You’ll never get tired of the mysteries in the series, which may or may not make you go crazy. Who was really behind the terrorist attack? Who’s working undercover with who? Why is everyone doing what they’re doing!?

3. The crazy intimacy.

The first episode starts right off with Priyanka getting it on in the backseat of a stranger’s car. If the entire show is like this, we’re in for a ride this season. Plus the tension of Priyanka and the stranger she hooked up with builds up in the first episode, leading to a suspenseful and tension-filled premiere. I could definitely get used to a show like this.

4. The actual cast diversity. 

Not only do we have South Asian queen Priyanka Chopra, but Palestinian actress Yasmine Al Masri also makes her debut on the show. She wears hijab and shatters stereotypes by working alongside the others in the FBI.

5. The intensity.

In this scene, Alex has flashbacks to the terrorist attack and what went down during the attack. This scene, like many others in the show, is filled with intense, captivating action which keeps you wanting more after every episode.

6. It’s not your typical thriller/action/mystery show.

Quantico combines everything we all love. Racial diversity, action, hookups, mystery, and a hot cast. But unlike most predictable ABC shows such as Pretty Little Liars and The Lying Game, Quantico offers more than a typical TV series: it’s relatable. It depicts the socio-political climate many Muslims and South Asians have lived under since 9/11 and this will likely add to the diversity of its audience.

If you haven’t already watched the first episode of the season, get on that ASAP. You’ll definitely enjoy the thriller plot line this show has to offer.

[bctt tweet=”Get on it!” username=”wearethetempest”]

UP NEXT: 7 Fall TV Shows More Diverse Than a 6th Grade Math Problem

TV Shows Pop Culture

Seven fall TV shows more diverse than a sixth grade math problem

Carlos, Hakim, and Cho go to the grocery store to buy soda. If one bottle of soda costs twenty-five cents and each person has five dollars, how many bottles of soda can they buy?

[bctt tweet=”Carlos, Hakim and Cho need soda!” username=”wearethetempest”]

The answer is: I don’t care. What I do care about is how Carlos, Hakim, and Cho met and why they’re buying so much soda. I care about their story. Just like how I care about how primetime TV is going to tell the stories of other groups of diverse characters this fall.

[bctt tweet=”I don’t care about their soda, I care about their story.” username=”wearethetempest”]


Minority Report: Mondays 9PM EST on FOX

Minority Report is a continuation of the 2002 film of the same name, taking place ten years after the events of the film. Dash, a precog who is able to see murders before they happen, teams up with Detective Lara Vega to make a difference with his gift.

Meagan Good plays Detective Lara Vega, a cop “haunted by her past” who misses the days of Precrime.  Appearing in a myriad of films and TV shows, including Think Like A Man, Good has the goods to make Detective Vega come alive.*

Wilmer Valderrama (best known as Fez from That 70s Show) and Li Jun Li are also cast. No stranger to FOX , Li Jun Li appeared on The Following and has taken up the role of CSI tech, Akeela.  Valderrama plays Will Blake, a fellow detective in Vega’s precinct. According to Deadline, they don’t hit it off from the start, but we all know where those kinds of TV relationships go. Can you say “slow burn!?”

*Yes I did just high-five myself for that pun.

Quantico: Tuesdays at 10PM EST on ABC

When I first saw this trailer, I made a weird exclamation of joy and woke up my cat. The show revolves around a group of FBI recruits who fight their way through training at Quantico base in Virginia. But from the looks of the trailer, it’s a lot more than that— it’s a cornucopia of ass-kicking heroines.

Our leading lady, Alex Parrish, is played by Bollywood star Priyanka Chopra. Before you point out that Bollywood isn’t really the most credible pool to fish great actors from (hello, wooden Katrina Kaif!), remember that Chopra can absolutely own a role when she has to. Don’t take my word for it — Netflix currently hosts both Barfi! and Fashion, two Bollywood films with strong performances by Chopra. Check them out and you’ll be DVRing Quantico in no time.

Additionally, we have Yasmine Al Masri as Hijabi recruit Nimah Anwar, and Aunjanue Ellis as Director of Quantico, Miranda Shaw. Minority women leading a television program that’s not explicitly about their ethnic or racial background? You done good, ABC. You done good.

Code Black: Wednesdays at 10PM EST on CBS

I don’t know about you all, but I’m ready for a high stakes ER drama that focuses more on the heart of the matter rather than who’s sleeping with whom.

Yeah, this list is about diversity, but let’s take a moment to appreciate Marcia Gay Harden’s older tough love straight-no-chaser character, Leanne Rorish. Harden is an Oscar winning actress who played Annalise Keating’s meddlesome sister-in-law, Hannah, in the hit show How to Get Away With Murder (also coming back this fall Thursdays at 10pm EST on ABC).

As an added bonus, Raza Jaffrey is our heartthrob doctor with a big heart — we have a new McDreamy, and he’s Indian! Jaffrey has definitely proved his acting chops through gigs on Homeland and Spooks. We’ve also got small screen veteran, Luis Guzmán as Jesse Sallander. Guzmán’s character is the warm safe haven in the high stakes world of the ER.

And finally, bow down to Miss India America 2007 and star of Love, Lies, and Seeta, Melanie Kannokada. She plays ER Resident Malaya Pineda, who I now love after only watching a minute of Kannokada’s performance. She’s definitely the kind of friend you want around when you have to bring someone back from the brink of death.


Sleepy Hollow: Thursdays at 9PM EST on FOX

As a self-proclaimed SleepyHead (yes, that’s what we’re called), I have to rep for the amazing Nicole Beharie and Lyndie Greenwood. Sleepy Hollow follows Abigail Mills (Beharie) and Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) as they navigate their roles as witnesses and fight to keep the world from plunging into darkness.

This supernatural thriller’s incredible first season was followed by a not-so-well-received second. If it weren’t for campaigning by fans of the program, it would have been taken off the air. I personally watch the show for the sister bond between Abbie and Jennifer Mills (Greenwood). The sisters fight the forces of darkness together, which is badass in itself.

Jane the Virgin: Mondays at 9PM EST on The CW

Jane Villanueva (Gina Rodriguez) is a good Christian Latina woman … who was accidentally artificially inseminated during a check-up. I know it sounds crazy, but Gina Rodriguez (the human embodiment of sunshine) and the whole JTV crew know what they are doing. For a show based on a Venezuelan telenovela, the secondhand embarrassment potential is strong in this one — but they manage to bring comedy and family to the forefront and produce a show worth watching.

Rodriguez describes her character as “patient, loving, and honest” to the point where the character grounds Rodriguez herself. At the CW Upfronts she says she is “feeling the love” for Jane the Virgin, and you bet I am too.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Sundays at 8:30PM EST on FOX

Show of hands: how many of you cried when Parks and Rec went off the air? I’m gonna guess and say there’s a lot of hands. Cry no more. Time to get obsessed with the hilarious badasses at Brooklyn Nine-Nine. More specifically, Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) and Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero). Both women bring hilarity and depth to their characters that make them impossible to forget.

Rosa is the withholding big sister I never knew I wanted and Amy is an overachieving, worrying, binder-making, sycophant who would make Leslie Knope proud. Both characters deal with job issues and relationships the best way they know how: ignoring them until things get worse and fixing them until they’re broken. But what I love most about them is that, although exaggerated, their actions aren’t far from what any modern woman would do. It’s nice to sit back before a hectic week, watch Rosa and Amy make the same mistakes you will probably make the next day, and know that everything will be fine, because if they can make it, so can you.


The Mindy Project: Is moving to Hulu!

In the infamous words of Ms. Kaling herself: “I’m a fucking Indian woman who has her own fucking network television show, OK?” Not anymore, Mindy. Not the network part, at least, which was a crushing blow to fans everywhere. But never fear: due to the newfound power of the fans, Hulu has picked up a fourth season to stream on Hulu!

The Mindy Project is about OB/GYN Mindy Lahiri, a hopeless romantic who’s chasing after her Nora Ephron love story ending. She’s a little (okay, a lot) messy, but she’s trying her best just like the rest of us. We’ve all landed drunk in a pool after delivering an embarrassing speech at our ex-boyfriend’s wedding, right?

… Right?

As someone who has to share a TV, I recommend you call dibs early. Make a list. Set the DVR. Have a family meeting. Finally get that Hulu account. Whatever you have to do to keep up with these awesome shows. Here’s to hoping that the new shows are worth our while, the ones we love return next year, and Raza Jaffrey tweets me back.

[bctt tweet=”Call dibs early!” username=”wearethetempest”]