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Bollywood Needs To Stop Propagating Stereotypes: A Look Into DU’s Regionalism

DU is a melting pot of cultures and traditions, yet, DU propagates regionalism fed to us by Bollywood stereotypes.

Delhi University is one such institution which is well known for its diversity among students. There are students who belong from Jammu and Kashmir to students who hail from Kerala. Despite such diversity in the varsity, most of them face some sort of stereotypes based on their region.

These Santa-Banta jokes along with the popular media have stereotyped Sardars/Punjabis as naive, low intellect, clowns with no brain, people who always giggle etc. Being a Sikh from Punjab studying in DU, I have come across many stereotypes that society has propagated about us. As people always used to address me saying, “O pajji kidda” and whenever they see me they go ‘O Balle Balle pajji’ or ‘Chak de phatte’. ‘Pajji‘ is a Punjabi word which actually translates to an elder brother and we never do ‘balle balle’ in real life. Another stereotype is that all Punjabis are non- vegetarian and they are obsessed with drinking alcohol. But people get shocked knowing that I am a vegetarian. ‘Tu yahan kyu padh raha hai tune toh Canada me hi settle hona hai’ is also pretty common to hear but not every Punjabi goes to Canada. There are many annoying questions we come across like, ‘Why do all Sardars look the same in a turban? Don’t you have a headache wearing Turban? Don’t you know Bhangra?’ I just want to comment, being non-vegetarian and knowing Bhangra does not certify that you are a Punjabi.

Sukham Ramgharia, Delhi University

I am sure that after watching this video by Jaspreet Singh you all agree to his rant on how Bollywood has stereotyped an entire community. Well, to think about it, Bollywood, is a platform where a lot of stereotypes have been propagated. Talk about gender stereotypes, where the female lead is always dependent on the male lead to save her from goons. To propagate religious stereotypes, a Muslim man is mostly depicted as one with a beard and a prayer cap.

Then comes regional stereotypes where Rajasthan is portrayed as all deserts, camels, and no water. Whereas South Indians are portrayed as people dressed in white lungis and speaking incorrect Hindi. While people from Delhi and Haryana are portrayed as short-tempered, violent and abusive.

Being a Keralite in DU has been challenging in so many terms. Ignoring so many self-made crises due to intimidation, one of the main issues that I felt was the fact that people always assumed that I don’t know Hindi and I couldn’t speak Hindi. Even if I did, people mocked my accent and laughed at me. Maybe not purposefully, But doing so had definitely reduced my attempts at learning and understanding Hindi better. Now, I barely speak Hindi. I guess it’s high time people realized that not knowing Hindi isn’t a huge issue and that South Indians are well versed in the language.

Vaishnavi Varier, Delhi University

 

Shah Rukh Khan and Deepika Padukone dressed in white to portray a south Indian couple in Chennai Express.

One of the many strange things that happened to me after coming to Delhi was this encounter with mild but obscure regionalism that persists in people’s mentality here. When a few of my college mates asked me from where I belong to and I said Haryana. They instantly responded with shock and went like “Really? but tu lagti nhi rhi h yaar” or “how can you be from Haryana, you talk so politely and you seem so amiable & humble”. So apparently Haryanvis don’t know how to talk and they are rude, harsh and disrespectful. One more disturbing and irritating stereotype that I came across is to never take ‘panga’ with a Haryanvi because they get aggressive real quick. And I am like ‘Ya, don’t make me prove you right’.

Megha Sharma, Delhi University

Remember this scene from the movie “Go Goa Gone”?

I still remember the beginning days of the college when all the freshers and seniors were interacting. When my turn came up to introduce myself, I told them that I am from Rajasthan. They went like “Oh Rajasthan se ho, tumhare yaha paani toh aata hai na, waha toh tum log unt (camel) pr ghumte honge naa.” These types of people generally think that Rajasthan is equal to Raigistan (a desert). People also feel that we only eat dal, bati and churma and we don’t eat or know about any other type of food. People have the perception that all Rajasthanis wear typical traditional dresses daily. Most of the stereotypes about Rajasthani people are the outcome of daily soaps and typical Bollywood movies based on Rajasthani culture. All these myths about Rajasthan are not true at all, we do receive rainfall every year and the shortage of water is limited to some areas of the northeastern part of Rajasthan. And yes, we do have vehicles in our state like any other state.

Shobhit Jangid, Delhi University
A still from the movie ‘Paheli’

Interacting with a lot of students from Delhi University, I realised that most of them had faced such incidents in the past. Such incidents make it hard for people from different regions to settle in Delhi. This is much more serious than we think of it to be.

I’m from Ladakh and the culture and tradition over here is completely different when compared to other parts of our country and yes, in terms of physical appearance we do look different and people from other regions even put weird names to us like ‘chinki’ as we have small eyes. I can give you a recent example where we people (especially from Ladakh as well as from the North East) were called “corona”. Because of such stereotypes we also make fewer friends in the college and avoid engaging with other students belonging from different states.

Sonam Angmo, Delhi University

It’s high time that people realize calling someone ‘Chinki’ is not a joke, it doesn’t make you look cool and it’s not funny at all. Next time you see a Sardar don’t address them as ‘Paaji’, they are not your elder brother. If someone can’t speak Hindi fluently, don’t make fun of their accent, there are literally a hundred languages and dialects spoken in this country. And please don’t go by the prejudices created through movies. It only makes you look like a problematic person, nobody else.

Featured Image Credits: DU Beat Archives

Harsh Paliwal

harshpaliwal13@gmail.com

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