By Shilpa S. Dave
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Extra info for Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film
Historically, according to Cedric C. 51 Finally, minorities are elevated to figures of authority in dramas that enforce the status quo. Although there have been variations to this paradigm, minority groups tend to follow this pattern of representation. The majority of South Asians and South Asian Americans appear in comedies, and, hence, as I argue, the racialized performances tend to exaggerate the difference and foreignness of South Asians in the United States. The appearance of Apu in 1990 represents a static and caricatured image of South Asians that is performed by white America.
He discovers he is a long-lost Indian prince when he experiences mystical flashbacks that identify him and prove to others that he is heir to the Indian royal family whose members have been blessed by the gods with special powers. Buddhism was featured in films about China and the Far East, so there was some differentiation between Asian religions, but they were linked to specific nationalities where Buddhists lived in China and Hindus lived in India. The second thematic thread depicts India as a foreign geographical landscape that emphasizes the differences between the poor and the wealthy.
French actor Louis Jourdan performs his racial impersonation by dressing up in Indian clothes and wearing brown makeup, but he does not affect an Indian accent to play Khan. Instead, he speaks English in his normal voice that has a European accent. As in earlier films, it is the British and the Europeans who dominate the narrative, and India becomes the backdrop for a story about British and American interests. The Bond girls are both white women (American and British) who happen to be living in exile in India, and Indian actors are given small roles.