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Watching Girl On The Train Left Me Angry & With A Lot Of Questions!

Posted: March 17, 2021

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While Girl On The Train was extremely disappointing, did the makers really need to show a negative character with all the cultural symbols?

With the dearth of new Bollywood releases and because I enjoyed the book and the Hollywood movie, I slumped on my sofa for Parineeti Chopra’s ‘Girl On The Train.’ The Hindi adaptation recently released on Netflix.

To say that the movie was a disappointment on several different levels, including over the top acting and emotion is an understatement. However, it was the adaptation of the book I loved, so I continued watching it. 

The only saving grace of the movie in terms of acting was the turban-clad police officer, played by Kirti Kulhari. It was hard to miss her charismatic presence as Inspector Dalbir. However, the darker side of Inspector Dalbir made me wonder why did it have to specifically be the female turban-clad police officer.

Was the cultural symbol necessary for the character?

Agreed the premise of the movie was London, which has a dominant Sikh community. Nonetheless, a woman wearing a turban is not that common even there.

At the same time, would I have been ok with a turban clad man or a hijab-wearing woman? Honestly, that would be debatable. The reason being one wouldn’t be able to show a Sikh man without a turban. But a Sikh woman wearing a turban is a pure choice, at least as per my knowledge.

Hence, was that characterisation necessary? Especially when the character is shown to have done gruesome crimes.

All stories have a character in shades of black, white and grey. And if one makes a movie with a South Asian star cast, specific identities for them is hard to forego. But casting an extremely negative character, with an identity that is not common, only drew my attention to ‘why the turban?’

Is it plain insensitivity on the part of the casting of the character? Or is it a conscious attempt to further marginalise communities already fighting for rights in some areas of the world?

Names and skin colour do enough to showcase differences, but that’s something we can’t get away with. Having characters wear specific physical symbols, in my opinion, is in the least insensitive. And if I can take it a few notches up, absolutely derogatory if portrayed in the negative.

Picture credits: Still from the movie Girl On The Train

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