10 Bollywood movies that redefined friendship

The feeling of having a best friend who totally gets you is irreplaceable. Everyone needs a partner in crime to talk and actually do stupid things with, one who cheers you up when you’re feeling low or one who you just have a total blast with when you hang out. We all have those special friends whom we are ready to do literally anything for.There are many ways in which friendship is portrayed in Bollywood. When it comes to movies, everyone is pretty familiar with the main genres. You’ve got your comedies, your dramas, your action films, horror movies, etc. These can then be broken down even further based on their themes. There are period dramas and romantic comedies, sci-fi action films… but one genre that is never mentioned is movies about friendship. While they are not as talked about as other genres but there are plenty of movies which have celebrated this special bond. So what does it take to classify a movie as being about friendship? Basically just a non-romantic relationship needs to be at the center of the film. Bollywood has shown friendship in many different ways till date. Few movies show the great sacrifices a person makes for his friendship while few depict the everyday scenarios that we find ourselves in with our friends. 

Best movies that have changed the definition of friendship in Bollywood:

1. 3 Idiots

3 Idiots

3 Idiots is a comedy – drama unlike any which you have seen so far. Whatever the problem in life is… just say to yourself ‘Aal Izz Well’.. This won’t solve your problems but it will give the courage to face it..” “Chase Excellence and success will follow”.. ” Life is not about getting marks, grades but chasing your dreams”.. These are the golden rules which 3 IDIOTS teaches you in a very light and entertaining way. This film showed us what a crucial influence does friendship have on a person’s life. In the movie Farhan Qureshi (R Madhavan) and Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi) play engineering students forced in the rat race of reaching to the top while dealing with their own personal problems. And one man named Ranchoddas “Rancho” Chanchad (Aamir Khan) completely changed their view on life. He helped Farhan gather courage to confront his father and explain the desire to pursue his career as a wildlife photographer instead of an engineer. A career he actually was interested in. He also helped Raju Rastogi defy his fears and gave him enough confident to face them head on. 

2. Sholay

Sholay

“Yeh dosti hum nahin todenge…. todenge dam magar tera saath na chhodenge…..”. These lines itself prove that this movie is all about friendship. Sholay is regarded as an all time classic and one of the most watched movies over the past century. The characters Jai (Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra Deol) are still given as examples of great friendship. The movie was a story about these two friends who are appointed by Thakur Baldev Singh (Sanjeev Kumar) the duty to protect a village which is frequently attacked by dacoits. The dacoits are however able to capture Veeru and Basanti (Hema Malini), his love interest. Jai being a true friend that he is scarifies himself just to rescue them. Nothing is bigger than sacrificing your own life for your friendship but that is exactly the kind of friend Jai was.

3. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

The movie which made friendships day and the friendship band popular again… Kuch Kuch Hota Hai will always have a place in our hearts. On paper it was just a coming of the age romantic drama but for everyone who has seen it, the movie means so much more than that. Kuch Kuch Hota Hai was also the directorial debut for the maestro Karan Johar. The movie spoke about friendship in a very beautiful manner. 
“Pyar dosti hai … agar woh meri sab se achchi dost nahin ban sakti, to main usse kabhi pyar kar hi nahi sakta … kyun ki dosti bina toh pyar hota hi nahin … simple, pyar dosti hai.” This line from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai gets it absolutely spot on. Friendship is indeed the root cause for any romantic relation. In this movie, we got to witness the amazing and fun filled friendship between Rahul Khanna (Shah Rukh Khan) and Anjali Sharma (Kajol) which eventually blossoms into true love.

4. Munnabhai M.B.B.S

Munnabhai M.B.B.S

Munnabhai M.B.B.S is one of the most unorthodox version of a friendship that we have witnessed in Bollywood movies until now. Never the friendship between a goon and his loyal mate was shown in such a light.  Given that his father had wished him to be a medical doctor, he creates the faux Sri Hari Prasad Sharma Charitable Hospital (named after his father) and pretends to live in accordance with this wish whenever his father (Sunil Dutt) and mother (Rohini Hattangadi) visit him in Mumbai. Directed by Rajkumar Hirani, Munna (Sanjay Dutt) is a goon who is determined to get a doctor’s agree after his dad finds out that he isn’t a doctor, a lie that he was living since years. Well for a goon this obviously is not something easy but to help him get through it all was his best buddy Circuit (Arshad Warsi), a guy who is always ready to fulfil any desire that Munna may have. Be it getting an admission in college or even show up with an actual body just because his friend said he wanted one. The term “Jadoo Ki Jhappi” also became very popular after the movie as according to the film a simple hug has magical powers to solve any problem that a person might be facing. This movie was a great example of how friends stick with each other no matter what.

5. Rock On!!

Rock On!!

Released a decade ago, Rock on was the first Rock Musical film that was made in India. This also marked the acting and singing debut of Farhan Akhtar. Rock On!! begins in Mumbai, with the rock band Magik, in 1998. Joseph (Joe) Mascarhenas (Arjun Rampal) is the lead guitarist who feels the necessity to prove his worth as a musician. Aditya Shroff (Farhan Akhtar) is the lead singer who rebelled against his well-to-do family to play music. Rob Nancy (Luke Kenny) who plays keyboards and Kedar Zaveri a.k.a. KD/”Killer Drummer” (Purab Kohli) comprise the remainder of the band. They manage to win a competition in which the winner gets to release their very own music album and the opportunity create a music video. However in the process of singing the contract, ego amongst those friends takes over and they have a fall out. 10 years later they decide to reunite the band for another show. Joe’s wife however holds a grudge against the band and forces him to take up a guitar playing job on cruise ship. In the end, when Joe discovers that Rob has a brain tumour and his last wish is to perform with magic once again, without any hesitation Joe comes through for his friend to fulfil his one last wish.

6. Rang De Basanti

Rang De Basanti

Rang De Basanti is a drama film which was written and directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra. The literal tittle of the film translates to “Paint me with the colours of spring.” It features an ensemble cast comprising Aamir Khan, Siddharth Narayan, Soha Ali Khan, Kunal Kapoor, R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi, Atul Kulkarni and British actress Alice Patten in the lead roles. Although the film’s primary theme was based on patriotism, it gave an excellent example as to how deep of a bond do friends have and the extent they are willing to go to for their friends. The story is about a British documentary filmmaker who is determined to make a film on Indian freedom fighters based on diary entries by her grandfather, a former officer of the Indian Imperial Police. Upon arriving in India, she asks a group of five young men to act in her film although they weren’t interested in the idea for acting on a documentary on the country. They gradually begin to realize that their own lives are quite similar to the characters they portray in the documentary and that the state of affairs that once plagued the revolutionaries continues to torment their generation. So just like the documentary, these group of friends unite in a revolt against the leaders with the aim to get the truth out in the open which saw their friends sacrifice his life for the country due to the inefficiency of the government.

7. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is probably remembered for the sizzling chemistry between Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone but the film also showed how important friendships are in one’s life. Along with Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone which were seen for the second time together after Bachna Ae Haseeno, this film also starred Aditya Roy Kapur and Kalki Koechlin who were seen as Ranbir Kapoor’s close buddies. The three friends were shown as extremely close and were together since the days of their college. Even after when Kabir Thappar (Ranbir Kapoor) meets them again after a long gap at Aditi Mehra’s (Kalki Koelchin) wedding they are still close as ever. The movie gave a very beautiful message of valuing your friends. It went on to prove that despite having everything you need in life, if you don’t have friends your happiness is incomplete. We must learn to value our friends before it gets to late.

8. Dil Chahta Hai

Dil Chahta Hai

Look around and we bet your group definitely has one Akash, Sameer or Sidharth. Because these were not just characters but real people like us. Dil Chahta Hai is a movie that went on to change Bollywood friendships forever. Who would have thought that the story of three close friends and their messed up lives would connect so well with the generation and remain in everbody’s heart even 16 years later. Dil Chahta Hai can truly be regarded as the game changer for mainstream Hindi cinema. It proved that you don’t need a typical Hero and Heroine pairing for making a commercially successful Bollywood movie. The reason why Dil Chahta Hai has such a special place in all our hearts is because it is so relatable in every aspect. The chemistry between Aamir Khan, Saif Ali Khan and Akshaye Khanna in the movie gave us an accurate reflection of how we talk and behave when with friends. The amazing direction of the movie made it hard to believe that it was Farhan Akhtar’s first film. The trademark scene in which Aamir, Saif and Akshaye gaze at the sun as they are contemplating life and then moments later look at each other and burst out laughing pretty much sums up the film.


9. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a perfect salute to friendship. It is a journey of three friends who go on a road trip and face the highs and lows of life together. Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara saw Hrithik Roshan (a successful investment banker), Abhay Deol (a wealthy businessman) and Farhan Akhtar (a writer from a modest background) as friends who are not bothered about each other’s family backgrounds. In fact, not only do they have different backgrounds but also contrasting personalities. While Farhan is an extrovert and fun loving, Hrithik is serious and introvert. Despite these differences, they are best of friends who want to be with each other through their ups and downs. They fought with each other, played pranks on others, had their emotional moments, confided in each other, had immense faith in each other and the sport they chose, went on a road trip, stayed awake all night and had hell lot of fun. Hrithik, Farhan and Kabir were perfect as the characters. In the movie, the three friends during their road trip were shown underwater diving, sky diving and running from bulls at the the San Fermin festival which not only showed the love these three friends had for adventure, but also justified how they conquered their fear and learnt to live in the present.

10.Kal Ho Naa Ho

Kal Ho Naa Ho

Kal Ho Naa Ho was a movie that taught us to live life to the fullest. The story was about Naina Catherine Kapur (Preity Zinta), a pessimistic and uptight MBA student who lives in New York City with her widowed mother. With the burden of so many responsibilities and the duty to fulfil them, Naina somewhere forgets to enjoy her own life. And during this phase in her life she comes across a special friend in the form of Aman Mehra (Shah Rukh Khan), a person who wins her heart as with the help of his attitude he begins to solve the problems in Naina’s life and also teaches her to enjoy life again. As Aman learns about his cancer and the limited time that he has left, he tries to make two close friends Rohit Patel (Saif Ali Khan) and Naina fall in love as he does not want Naina to face the burden of his death. He sacrificed his love for her because he valued her too much.

7 Bollywood Comedians We Grew Up Watching And Miss In The Age Of Stand-Up

Comedy in Bollywood movies in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and the mid-2000s was gold. And so were the comedians who delivered some great light-hearted comedy. In the digital era, where stand-up comedians are ruling the roost, we take a look back at the long-forgotten comedy actors in Bollywood. From Johnny Walker to Rajpal Yadav, here’s a list of comedians we miss watching. 

1. Johnny Lever

Johnny was not only our favourite but Bollywood’s most popular comedian for decades. In his 40-year-long career, he’s featured in more than 200 films. Little did we know that Johnny was the OG stand-up comedian who started his journey by performing comedy acts in musical shows. He was later discovered by Sunil Dutt, who got him his first movie Dard Ka Rishta in 1982. The actor was last seen in Cooli No.1 starring Varun Dhawan.

2. Laxmikant Berde

Salman Khan and Laxmikant Berde’s Jodi was an absolute hit in the ‘90s. But did you know that the comedian who was a constant in every Sooraj Barjatya film, was actually a superstar in Marathi cinema? He was popularly known as the ‘Comedy King’ of Marathi cinema. He made his Bollywood debut with Maine Pyar Kiya in 1989 and featured in a couple of other popular Hindi films including Hum Aapke Hain Koun..!, Mere Sapno Ki Rani, Aarzoo, Saajan, Beta, 100 Days and Anari. His sudden demise in 2004 came as a shock to everyone.

3. Raju Srivastav

Our very dear Gajodhar bhaiya needs no introduction. Much like Laxmikant, Raju also started his Bollywood journey with Maine Pyar Kiya. However, he never got much recognition in Bollywood and rose to fame with The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, an Indian reality stand-up comedy series. Raju is popular for doing some great mimicry.

4. Rajpal Yadav 

The last we saw Rajpal in Coolie No.1 starring Varun Dhawan. There was a time when he delivered some of the most iconic comical roles in the mid-2000s like Lal Hanuman in Bhool Bhulaiyaa, Bandya in Chup Chup Ke, and Chota Don in Bhagam Bhag. His other notable films include Hungama, Mujhse Shaadi Karogi, Partner, and Dhol. How we wish we get to see him more.

5. Johnny Walker

Anand, Hrishikesh Mukherjee

Remember Isa bhai from Anand? Johnny is another iconic comedian from the bygone era who never failed to crack us up with his distinct voice. Oh, did we mention his signature pencil-thin moustache? Johnny was last seen playing the character of Joseph in Chachi 420. He passed away in 2003, we hope someone with a similar style emerged on the scene.

6. Keshto Mukherjee

Remember the drunk comedian in almost every ‘70s and ‘80s film? The man with a bottle of alcohol who made funny faces just to make us laugh? Keshto made his look legendary and one-of-a-kind, and was perhaps one of the best comedians Indian cinema has ever seen.

7. Mehmood

And we saved the best for the last. Mehmood aka Master Pillai from Padosan is Indian cinema’s best comedian ever. He’s not only featured in more than 300 films but also won several Filmfare Awards for Best Comedian. 

‘Toofan’ review: Farhan Akhtar’s boxer fights the battle of the bulge

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s boxing drama also stars Mrunal Thakur and Paresh Rawal in pivotal roles.

The progress of Toofan is written on the body of its pugilist hero: light on its feet in the early triumphant phase, heavy in the middle, sluggish during the drudge years but sprightly again after the demons have been chased away.

Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s boxing drama traces the ascent of Mumbai hoodlum Aziz Ali from the pits to the top of the heap. Aziz (Farhan Akhtar) and his buddy Munna (Hussain Dalal) are enforcers for Dongri gangster Jaffer (Vijay Raaz). A chance encounter with sparky doctor Ananya (Mrunal Thakur) sets Aziz on the straight and narrow.

That path leads to coach Narayan Prabhu (Paresh Rawal), who, despite his barely concealed contempt for Aziz on account of his faith, spots Aziz’s talent in the ring. Dongri or Dubai, it’s all the same, Narayan sneers. But he nevertheless sculpts the directionless hunk before him into a match-winning champion.

The setbacks suffered by every screen boxer in the history of screen boxing drive mentor and mentee apart. Toofan – the title refers to Narayan’s nickname for Aziz – is faithful to the cliches of this kind of movie. But it’s saved from being a storm in a teacup by a well-mounted production, committed performances and likable characters.

A regulation boxing film, if done well and kept to a trim runtime, isn’t a bad thing at all. The problem with Toofan is that it doesn’t put enough flesh on a barebones story to justify its extraordinary 162-minute running length.

Toofan is based on a story idea by Farhan Akhtar and Anjum Rajabali’s screenplay. The early portions of the Amazon Prime Video release are fleet and fun, if deeply familiar. Aziz’s encounter with Ananya leads to an old-fashioned romance, filled with idealism, tenderness and Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy songs.

Aziz’s progress is so rapid that it appears that the movie has all but wrapped up within an hour. But a secret known only to Ananya explodes in Aziz’s face, leading to many more minutes of agony until the expected fightback.

A tale of grit and glory with generous lashings of stardust, the movie uses its Mumbai setting to re-introduce us to Gully Boy dialogue writer Vijay Maurya’s keen ear for the city’s unique slang. Mumbai’s famed cosmopolitanism is reflected in the tolerance that marks the Aziz-Ananya coupling. It’s as fairy-tale as they come, but allows a woman to have her own corner of the ring in an overwhelmingly male genre.

External factors explain what needed to have been deeply interior states. Aziz is a benign thug who loves orphans on account of his own hardscabble childhood. Narayan has a reason for using an unspeakable slur to describe Muslims. 

The exploration of religious bigotry is laboured, a spanner in the works thrown in just to get Aziz out of the way, The villain that ruins Aziz’s party too comes out of nowhere.

Toofan moves along on the strength of Farhan Akhtar’s immersion in Aziz’s travails and Mrunal Thakur’s winning warmth. Akhtar’s physical transformation, which follows a similar feat in director Mehra’s Milkha Singh biopic Bhaag Milkha Singh, lends the boxing scenes the necessary punch and power.

Paresh Rawal, cleverly cast as a Muslim-hater, makes for a solid grouchy patriarch. The notable cameos include Mohan Agashe as Narayan’s drinking buddy and Supriya Pathak as Ananya’s helpful colleague. 

A walk-on part for Sonali Kulkarni, one of the heroines in Farhan Akhtar’s directorial debut in Dil Chahta Hai 20 years ago, indicates that while some things have changed forever in the imagination of the Hindi movie universe, others haven’t. Akhtar still gets to play a young man in a delayed coming-of-age story. Kulkarni, as Narayan’s wife, suggests that some fights are destined to be lost.

Where to travel to post Covid-19? Try these 10 Indian destinations made famous by Bollywood

It never hurts to dream a little. Therefore, we thought of compiling 10 scenic Indian destinations that were made famous by Bollywood. So, when this pandemic is over, you can finally pack your bags, pick a place and just travel.

With constant reminders about following social distancing guidelines and wearing masks to fight Covid-19, travelling seems like the last thing on our minds right now. However, no pandemic can rob us of the yearning to reach new regions, explore stunning locales and visit the countryside.

International trips have become a long-forgotten dream as borders of most countries have been closed for tourists. So, why not look inward and visit the gorgeous locations of our country instead. Therefore, we thought of listing down 10 destinations around India that were made famous by Bollywood.

And in case you were wondering why now, we want to ask, why not now? There’s still time till we finally travel, so grab that pen and list down all the places you have ever wanted to visit. And once this all is over, pack your bags and travel!

Spiti Valley

If there is heaven on earth, then it is in Spiti and if you don’t believe us, google a few images. A few movies that were filmed at this scenic valley are Highway, Paap and Kesari. This Himalayan beauty is as beautiful in the winters, as it is in the summers. Tiny hamlets and serene monasteries are sprinkled across this desert mountain valley, and it is situated at a height of 13,000 feet.

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass has always been fancied by filmmakers looking for a location that truly depicts the marvels hidden in the laps of the Himalayas. And films like Jab We Met, Dev D and Highway have immortalised the snow-clad stretches of Rohtang Pass on the big screen. It is a perfect choice for those who are yearning to take their bike out to the hills.

Pangong Tso Lake

Remember Kareena Kapoor riding a yellow scooter dressed in wedding attire in 3 Idiots or Shah Rukh Khan in Jab Tak Hai Jaan? Well, both those films were shot at this pristine blue lake with the stunning backdrop of magnificent mountains in Ladakh. These two movies put this beautiful place on the map of travellers once again. Of course, we’re guessing by the time this pandemic is over and free-flow travel returns, China will also be done with its mischiefs in the area. When you plan a visit to this unforgettable destination, be considerate of the locals and the ecosystem of this beautiful cold desert.

Shimla

Shimla and Mall Road have been a favourite among tourists for many decades now. But Bollywood made this familiar-looking hill station a favourite among Instagram-hungry travelers. This city situated on the Himalayan foothills makes appearances in films like Bang Bang, Jab We Met and 3 Idiots.

Gulmarg

Bollywood’s love affair with Kashmir started a long time ago, when Shammi Kapoor showed us a glimpse of the green meadows and snow-capped mountains. However, recently, other Bollywood films that showed the beauty of this paradise on earth were Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, Highway, Haider, Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Jab Tak Hai Jaan. Though YJHD presented Gulmarg as Manali, the Valley’s beauty lured tourists to witness its majestic and pristine mountains.

Manali

Though Manali was always a popular tourist spot, it became popular after the famous Hadimba temple made an appearance in Ranbir Kapoor and Deepika Padukone’s Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. The town saw a boost in tourism after the film, as young Bollywood buffs escaped the city madness to visit this backpacking site.

Goa

A list talking about the attractions which were made popular by Bollywood is never complete without Goa. Dil Chahta Hai made Goa the quintessential dream goal of every young millennial. After that, several other films were shot in the state, some of them being Socha Na Tha, Simmba, Dilwale, Drishyam… the list is endless. The best way to make the most of Goa is to hire a scooter and just explore. And in case you want to experience the less travelled places, visit the Netravali Wildlife Sanctuary, Galgibaga Beach, Hollant Beach, Harvalem Falls and more. We don’t know if your trip will materialise after the pandemic, but one can always hope.

Udaipur

The royalty and the grandeur of Udaipur’s havelis have been very well captured by Bollywood filmmakers on celluloid. This scenic lake city made a grand appearance in Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani and Ram Leela and is worth a visit. It is worth immersing yourself in the culture of this gorgeous city. So, when this pandemic is over, pick a weekend and hire a scooter as you go around just enjoying the cuisine, the art and the people.

Munnar

Deepika Padukone dancing in the middle of a tea plantation with Shah Rukh Khan is sure to remind you of Munnar. Kerala’s backwaters have always been an ideal tourist spot, but Chennai Express brought forth the idyllic beauty of the South. In fact, after Chennai Express, Nishabd and Life of Pi, Munnar became one of the most sought-after destinations in South India.

Darjeeling

From Main Hoon Na to Barfi, the film industry has always found inspiration in the splendid locales of Darjeeling. And of course, who can forget Rajesh Khanna singing Mere Sapnon Ki Rani for Sharmila Tagore in Aradhna as the toy train makes its way through the tea gardens. The lush tea gardens, the snow-capped mountains, the quaint architecture and the warm hospitality of its people make Darjeeling a place you would keep wanting to return to.

So, which destination are you visiting when this pandemic is over?

6 Bollywood Songs That Should’ve Never Been Remade Proving We Need More Original Numbers

Bollywood music is going through a phase where every song has a remix and none of the remixes are better than the original ones.

So, all the songs that you used to dance on at weddings and other occasions now have their own remixes, and listening to them will only make you miss the original song more and more. 

Not only Bollywood songs but even Punjabi songs that aren’t even old yet have new versions and it’s only confusing us.

Now, this also makes us to think that the song producers, at large, don’t have any creativity left in them anymore to make better songs or maybe they are just plain lazy.

However, most of the original songs haven’t even faded from our memories and we still enjoy listening to them. 

Here is a list of six Bollywood remixes that have ruined the original version for us forever: 

1. Sauda Khara Khara 

This song is a DJ’s favourite and is played at almost all wedding functions and honestly, even if they didn’t make a new version we’d be happily listening to the original song. The original is Sukhbir’s version and makes people want to dance on its beats. 

A remix was recently seen in the film GOOD NEWWZ starring Akshay Kumar, Kareena Kapoor, Kiara Advani, and Diljit Dosanjh

2. Dus Bahane

Have you heard ‘Dus Bahane 2.0’ from Baaghi 3? If you haven’t, just to preserve the memory of the old version, don’t listen to it. The original version is perfectly fine and no one needs the remix version of Dus Bahane to ruin it.

3. Love Aaj Kal

Imtiaz Ali recycled his own film with same songs, worse storyline and different actors. Viewers didn’t see any need to murder the original film and its songs. From ruining the song Dooriyan for us to copy-pasting the song Twist, we just didn’t need this at all.

4. Ek Toh Kum Zindagani

We can’t get over Rekha’s sass in the song and extraordinary beats that made everyone dance. The new version has Nora Fatehi and we just didn’t need a remix for this one.

5. O Saki Saki

Nora Fatehi’s dance moves are delight to look at in the new version but if you listen to the song without the video, its not as good as the original one.This song just didn’t need the new version and we are just going to listen to the original one happily.

6. Muqabla

The remake of the song just breaks my heart but looking at Prabhu Deva dancing again is a little consolation. However, the original song’s lyrics and its vibe cannot be compared to the new one as its out of the world!!

The portrayal of Indians in US films shows has evolved over the years

Her presence at the Grammy Awards in an ivory kimono dress earlier this year may have turned heads for all the wrong reasons but there was way more to Priyanka Chopra Jonas attending one of the four biggest annual entertainment awards in the US.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas in a still from ‘Quantico’. She is the first south Asian to headline an American network drama series.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas, the first South Asian to headline an American network drama series when she starred in ABC thriller Quantico in 2015, is reflective of the slow evolution in the representation of Indians in US cinema and television. The change, though not entirely remarkable, is evident both in the token presence of Bollywood stars such as Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, and Deepika Padukone in Hollywood films and Indian-born foreigners such as Mindy Kaling, Dev Patel, and Hasan Minhaj making waves.

The well-known trope to include an Asian character, often unnecessarily, as part of the broader narrative of American films and series, goes back to the fairness doctrine introduced by the United States Federal Communications Commission in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licences to present controversial issues of public importance in an honest, equitable, and balanced manner, thus requiring the mandatory presence of ethnic minorities.

“I have always felt that in addition to a mandatory black face and then a Hispanic one, they (Hollywood films) have a mandatory Asian too, in their bid to look inclusive,” film critic Bharathi Pradhan said. The earliest depictions of Asians were as greedy, illiterate foreigners though they did evolve into doctors, professionals, and more educated immigrants by the 1980s.

However, the inherent Orientalism refuses to die. The first American company to recruit Indian faces for its projects was Merchant Ivory Productions where actor Shashi Kapoor was a regular with films such as The Householder and Shakespeare Wallah in the 1960s. Over the years, several Bollywood actors have crossed over to Hollywood, such as Amitabh Bachchan (The Great Gatsby), Anil Kapoor (Mission: Impossible- Ghost Protocol), Aishwarya Rai Bachchan (The Last LegionThe Pink Panther 2), and Deepika Padukone (xXx: Return of Xander Cage).

“They are all quite unidimensional characters and a classic example of tokenism as far as social representation goes,” said Uma Vangal, filmmaker and professor at the L.V. Prasad Film and TV Academy. It is disappointing to see such talented actors being reduced to caricatures in a narrative to which their presence or absence would not make a difference, said Vangal.