The article “Ayyo, Rama, what’s aappening?” (June 24) has advocated a sober and nuanced response to stereotyping — ignore if the situation is harmlessly flippant or take umbrage in serious cases. But such a rational approach can be cultivated only by connoisseurs of art. We cannot expect the majority to exercise a fine sense of discrimination. Stereotyping is rooted in prejudice. Every stereotype, intended or unintended, perpetuates a wrong image of the targeted group.
It is all right to have a couple of stereotyped characters in a few scenes for evoking laughter. But to make an entire film poking fun at the language and mannerisms of a few countrymen (evident from the trailer of Chennai Express) is not in good taste. The netizens up in arms against the film should ignore it rather than give it undeserving publicity through social media.
Freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to portray a community in an uncivilised manner for comedy. In Tamil movies, Brahmin characters arecreated only for poking fun — in most cases, they do not have any relevance to the main story. While film-makers should stop including scenes that offend a community, the censor board should ensure that scenes which insult customs, religious practices and symbols, and the dialect of any group do not appear in films.
I have a good laugh whenever I see a “mainstream cinematic stereotyping” of a Tamilian in a typical Hindi film. Caricaturing a Christian father, a Tam-Brahm priest or a sardarji is a common filmy device used to create humour, not necessarily healthy.
Amitabh Bachchan as Anthony in Amar Akbar Anthony and Mehmood in Padosan are classic examples of humour. Kamal Haasan did wear a nine-yards sari in the Tamil film Avvai Shanmugi but was a delight to watch throughout the film. The same actor was a smart, suave, loveable Tamil young man in Ek Duje Ke Liye.
Col C.V. Venugiopalan (retd.),