Golden Globe for Naatu Naatu: White validation and home truths

The solution for this sorry state of affairs simply cannot be to rest on the laurels of random Indian victories and putter along on potholed-roads with chests puffed up with vacuous pride.

Published: 22nd January 2023 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2023 04:54 PM   |  A+A-

It is always lovely when Indians win recognition on the global stage and athletes, scientists and artists hailing from this land receive their fair share of accolades. Our homegrown achievers deserve this hard-earned recognition especially since our motherland does not exactly have a reputation for nurturing talent or creating a hospitable terrain for the meritorious to survive and thrive. Which is why it is pretty cool when an Arundhati Roy or Geetanjali Shree wins the Booker Prize, AR Rahman wins an Academy Award, a PV Sindhu wins an Olympic medal, or when Naatu Naatu takes home the Golden Globe.

It is easy enough to understand the need to celebrate these wins with boisterous gusto as the more honest among us will admit that on most days, life in India is hardly cause for celebration. There is simply too much evidence of corruption, incompetence and criminal negligence every which way you turn—a mother and her two-year-old are killed when a metro pillar collapses; a young software engineer loses her life following an accident on a pothole-riddled road. ‘PeeGate’ becomes one of the most cringe-worthy news stories of all time. These are only the more recent examples of India when it isn’t quite as incredible as it is purported to be.

Thanks to the despicable behaviour of our countrymen/women/children, there comes a point when we want to disown our Indian brothers and sisters so that we can adopt Japanese siblings who always clean up after themselves, are frightfully competent, painfully polite and wouldn’t dream of peeing on anyone or anywhere other than a urinal. I dare say, it is thanks to these unpatriotic thoughts, which we do not admit to, that we feel the need to go absolutely bonkers with pride and joy every time an Indian receives ‘white validation’. It is because deep down we know that most of us respect each other even less than the white folks do. Racism is only part of the problem. The truth is, we don’t do much to be worthy of approbation.  

It is sad that the excessive display of national pride on these occasions masks a loathing for so much of what India has become. The solution for this sorry state of affairs simply cannot be to rest on the laurels of random Indian victories and putter along on potholed-roads with chests puffed up with vacuous pride. Now is the time to get off our keisters and get to work mending the many broken things that need fixing if we are to hold up our heads and take our rightful place on the global stage. It means confronting the painful truth about being Indian rather than disappearing into a foot-stomping song where two Telugu superstars school the white man while owning their regional identities, without desperately seeking his approval to feel better about their own shortcomings.

Anuja Chandramouli

Author and new age classicist

India Matters


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