Like other filmy kids, who grew up watching a lot of Bollywood, I also drew examples and ideas from mainstream Hindi cinema. And I still love, even joy some typical nuances that only desi films have. However, there are a lot of times now, where I find myself questioning, if a reference that a Bollywood film showed us as something ‘cool’, is actually offensive. 


While inclusion and sensitivity are becoming a more important goal for mainstream pop-culture across the globe, we often misstep the line. Inclusive plots, casting and even hiring of crew is something that makes a lot of difference – solely because pop-culture, art and cinema has an impact that is deeper, and it cannot be said enough. This is also why it becomes important to do things right, more sensitively. 

The Film Companion

A lot of Bollywood movies, have given us misinterpreted characters or ideas in the name of ‘something new’. For instance, the way Hindi movies consider all of South India practicing the same culture, like in 2 States. Other times, we use these differences for comic relief, like Diljit Dosanjh’s character in Good Newwz. And, we cannot deny that this forms an image – specifically when these films are mainstream and from recent times. 

Instant Bollywood

We can hardly school the world about a culture that we’re closer to, and still know very little about, or at least that’s how we show it. Even a lot of mainstream Hollywood gave us flawed representation of cultures, which is hopefully changing for the good. The emphasis on Asian roots in Turning Red and a Muslim-female superhero in MCU’s Ms Marvel are examples. 


Inclusion, however, goes beyond this. When we see characters that we relate to, it makes us all feel seen, and here, casting plays a major role. For instance, Isaac portrayed by George Robinson in Sex Education is a wheelchair user, similarly Jalsa’s Surya Kasibhatla who has Cerebral Palsy, are examples of casting done right. 

Teen Vogue

Even when it comes to casting queer and transgender characters, Bollywood has not always been open to actors who could actually do justice to the role. When we expect change, we wish to see more actors like Mairembam Ronaldo Singh from Paatal Lok – who not only had a deeper understanding of the treatment, but also a sense of empathy for the character that she played. 

Amazon Prime Video

These actors brought a lot more impact through their characters, that wouldn’t have been the same otherwise. Akshay Kumar’s portrayal of a transgender character in Laxmii is a clear example, that was vastly misinterpreted. 


Again, we pick information, ideas and opinions from cinema, which needs to be diverse and honest. So, using a character for comic relief, or writing stories that are confined in a bubble, not only lead to insensitivity, but the lack of basic knowledge about the society that we live in. After all, how can we accept or stand for something that we know nothing about? 

We can continue consuming and making the same-old content that focuses solely on entertainment, which is a choice. Or we can choose cinema that tries to imply a better change with its messaging. However, we cannot deny that inclusion and sensitivity, or lack thereof, has an effect. It can either be good or bad, that’s the only difference.