Like many Indian-Americans, I grew up watching Bollywood movies. I would sometimes try to get my non-Desi friends to watch the glitzy, musical-number laden films, to mixed responses. But I was overjoyed when the films that were so near and dear to my heart caught the American public’s attention – with the Academy Award nomination for the epic Lagaan (English: Land Tax) in 2001, and the “Jai Ho” fervor in the wake of Slumdog Millionaire.
NBC’s musical hit Smash decided to join the craze with a Bollywood-themed episode, and I was excited – until I saw the episode’s title: “A Thousand and One Nights.”
All of my other criticisms of Smash aside, this conflation of Indian and Arabic cultures is wrong in nearly 1,001 ways. I mean, I love Aladdin, but come on – not all brown people are the same! The tribute to Bollywood is supposed to be in honor of character Karen Cartwright’s (played by Katharine McPhee of American Idol fame) British-Indian boyfriend Dev Sundaram, played by real-life British-Indian Raza Jaffrey. That’s all well and good, but when you have an episode honoring Indian culture, giving it the name of an incredibly well-known Arabic collection of tales (hello, they’re called the Arabian Nights!) is a huge no-no.
I really want to love this, but I don’t think I can. Come April 23rd, I might just mute the TV and just take in the glam Indian costumes. Will you be tuning in?
Smash airs on Mondays at 10pm EST on NBC; “A Thousand and One Nights” airs April 23
(Photo via ew.com)
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.