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BIPOC of Ubisoft - Anand Subramaniam

To set the scene, let us roll back the clock to the early 2000s. A young Asian boy of mixed descent, living in North West London, England. A small flat filled with the sounds of Bollywood and Kollywood music blaring from a HiFi system, and phrases of Gujarati and Tamil interspersed with English ones – the voices of my first-generation immigrant parents. This is how I grew up.

With the exceptions being “Goodness Gracious Me” and “The Kumars at No. 42” – both comedy sketch shows carried by Sanjeev Bhaskar, who to this day remains one of the leading Asian faces of the British entertainment industry.

We are all familiar with the overplayed stereotypes of corner shop owners and cab drivers seen in many forms of media. She learned most of the English she knows today by watching British television for decades.

I do not just mean by the color of their skin, but their choice of clothing, the food they ate, the way “they smelled,” even their religious and cultural beliefs were under scrutiny. Ironically, some of these elements have been repackaged and utilized today: the “British Curry;” haldi ka doodh (aka golden milk) and chai masala are mixed with coffee and sold as turmeric and chai lattes; the cultural appropriation of bindis as decorative fashion statements; and the mass adoption of yoga and homeopathy via ayurvedic treatments.

Many decades later, some Indian immigrants did indeed become cabbies and corner shop owners, as these were lucrative businesses to have. Asians still suffer in today’s entertainment environment through underrepresentation: very few role models; actors being type casted or portrayed as shallow, one-dimensional characters; and more often the source of comic relief. It adds to the struggle for those that came after the first generation, to connect to our roots and maintain our racial and cultural identities.

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Mar 19, 2021 at 22:25

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