10 Cringeworthy Stereotypes About South Indians Perpetuated By Bollywood!

'South Indians' are not all one block of people. The cultures as as varied as anywhere else in India, and Bollywood has put them into one box!

Just finished watching ‘Mast Mein Rehne Ka’ this weekend – a film that brilliantly blends quirkiness with heartwarming moments! Jackie Shroff and Neena Gupta shine as the soul of this slice-of-life story. Apart from the excellent storyline and acting, one scene particularly caught my attention. Neena Gupta’s character, under the common misconception that all South Indians are ‘Madrasi,‘ amusingly fails to realize that Jackie Shroff’s character hails from Karnataka, leading to her endearingly referring to him as the “Madrasi of Karnataka.”

The scene was undeniably humorous, and it was clear that any unintentional offense was far from the filmmakers’ minds. Nevertheless, it brought to mind that this is not the first instance where Bollywood has attempted to stereotype South Indians.

Indian Cinema has been greatly influential in our society ever since its evolution. Be it fashion trends, larger-than-life wedding set-ups, family gatherings or even general perceptions, Bollywood has shaped our thinking and way to look out at things. The film industry, often criticized for perpetuating cultural stereotypes, has occasionally portrayed South Indian characters in a manner that oversimplifies and distorts their diverse and rich culture.

Unconsciously, over the years, Bollywood has succeeded to fool our minds into believing certain stereotypes that still reside in our minds. From ‘Masterji’ in Padosan to SRK eating Noodles and curd, Bollywood has often stereotyped south Indians and never bothers to do some research.

Here is some stereotypical portrayal of South Indians by our Bollywood movies:

South Indian men are fond of ‘lungi’

Bollywood mainly showcases South India Men in a lungi (a garment wrapped around the waist and extending to the ankles) with a white horizontal tilak on the forehead. Makers tend to confuse it with ‘Veshtis’, a more formal type of cultural wear commonly worn at weddings.

South Indian women love traditional attire

If Bollywood is to be believed, all South Indian women only wear heavy Kanjivaram saree with jasmine flowers pinned in their long braids and of course, the tilak is omnipresent on their forehead too. But in reality, they lead lifestyles no different from the women in the North and are styled in modern clothing too.

Highly distinctive accent of English and Hindi

Think Mithun Chakrabarti’s cringeworthy accent in the movie ‘Agneepath’ or Deepika Padukone’s accent in the movie ‘Chennai Express’. Why couldn’t any of the South Indian characters speak the proper language? Rather, South Indian states like Kerala and Tamil Nadu are among the highest-ranking English-speaking states in India. So, Bollywood please stop faking the accent!!

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South Indians are always vegetarian

Eating non-vegetarian food is made a big deal in Bollywood movies as shown in the movie Meenakshi Sundareshwarar”. South Indian cuisine is not only about idli, sambar, dosa or vada. Why doesn’t anyone ever mention Pongal or poriyal or even chicken 65? Yes!! South Indians are fond of non-veg too.

South Indians are always ‘Madrasi’ and that too Brahmin

It’s high time, one should refresh their Geography knowledge and should know that there are five separate states in South India, each speaking a different language. Not to mention, Bollywood has always chosen to portray the ‘upper castes’ but there is more in the region. Not all are “Brahmins”.

All are ‘Rajinikanth’ fans

Stop making Rajinikanth references all the time, not every South Indian is obsessed with him. This is the most ridiculous stereotype Bollywood movies think that people from South India keep a photo of Rajinikanth along with the deities in the house temple.

Loves Carnatic Music

Pick any South Indian-centered movie, one can surely find Carnatic music played in the background. Please, there is more to music in the South than just one tune and people equally admire modern music.

All are excellent Bharatanatyam dancers

Though one would love to be called so, not all people from South India can pull off a perfectly choreographed Bharatanatyam or a Kuchipudi dance.

South Indians are obsessed with scoring in Exams

Even though South India has some of the best universities, believe us, it is quite easy to find someone here who cares a lot more about movies, fashion and bikes than exams. But Bollywood is always interested in showcasing all South Indians as serious and over-smart.

Ayyo’ is the most favourite word

As per Bollywood, every South Indian utters words like ‘amma’, ‘appa’, ‘ayyo’ ‘murugana’ etc at least once in a sentence. Please don’t believe this. It’s not true and there is no such phrase as ‘enna rascala’ in any South Indian language.

‘South Indian culture’ refers to the culture of the states of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana. So, imagine the diversity of culture, customs and cuisine. And people must understand that South India is a generic term and they all are not the same, just as all North Indians are not the same. I think it’s high time for Bollywood to stop stereotyping South Indians because what they portray has nothing to do with real life. And yes! If someone is South Indian doesn’t mean they are MADRASI!

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Richa Agrawal

A writer, a blogger, and a mother. I find immense joy in doing anything creative, be it writing, indulging in arts & crafts, or decorating my personal space. I am also captivated by the wonders read more...

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