Blindian (Black & Asian) Intercultural Relationships in Film

Blindian: A person of mixed Indian and black heritage; A couple where one person is black and the other is Indian.

#Blindian Project: An amazing social media project which aims to shatter stereotypes across social media and celebrates blindian relationships.

I watched the film Mississippi Masala a short while ago. The movie may sound unfamiliar to many of you, because it never quite took off in the mainstream sphere despite starring Denzel Washington. His co-star was Sarita Choudhury which may be surprising for some, because they are no white leads, and many shades of melanin in this movie. The movie intentionally has little focus on any white counterparts despite it being set in Mississippi, USA.

Instead, it focuses on the love story between the African American and East African Indian characters, in a ground breaking romance in the vein of a Romeo & Juliet type scenario. I have been accustomed to seeing forbidden romances between people of colour and white people. Everyone is familiar with Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Bride & Prejudice but what about people of colour…with other people of colour? Newsflash – not everyone falls in love with their own race or white people.

There is a level of anti-black prejudice in the south Asian community, which does mean relationships between these cultures may have to fight harder or may be less likely to happen in some circumstances. However, these relationships do happen especially between African or Caribbean people and south Asian diaspora’s around the world. There are large numbers of Indians in Johannesburg, South Africa and Caribbean islands such as Trinidad and Tobago where Blindian couples may be slightly more visible due to the population demographics. In cosmopolitan cities which are melting pots of culture like London, or New York, couplings without white person will also, unsurprisingly occur.

Hollywood, Bollywood, and the film industry at large would have us assume different though. It is a well-known issue that there are far more white directors and far less people of colour behind the camera’s writing the stories we see in cinemas. Despite this fact, I thought there may be some low budget independent films similar to Mississippi Masala so I set of on a virtual voyage. With Google at my fingertips I thought I was sure to find a sizable list depicting relationships with a black and south Asian person. You can call this optimism of naivety.

My total finding was five. This includes the film I had already seen, a film that’s due to be released later this year and one that was released on Netflix a mere month ago. This is out of thousands on movies produced EVERY YEAR. It’s no wonder that in the UK at least, there isn’t even a box on the diversity form to show you’re ‘Mixed Race – Black and Asian’. You’re other. Invisible. Not Represented. Not given any kind of hope. Not seen worthy of being depicted because your relationship is less marketable and will make less money than a white lead with one person of colour.

It goes without saying the industry has to change, and even though the collection below shows a dearth, considering two movies on this list are from 2020 (which is almost more than previously EVER made showing Blindian love), it gives me hope that maybe one day there will be more media depictions of black and Indian couples. Film is a powerful form and showing these relationships on screen could help shatter stereotypes and open up people’s minds to the idea. It can even provide solace to couples out there that they’re not the only ones in this situation and that they should be able to celebrate their love.

The following are movies from my own research, but if you know anymore, please comment and let me and everyone else reading this, know. I am truly hoping I am wrong in thinking there is just five so please share your knowledge! 🙂

Mississippi Masala (1992)

Duration: 1hr 58mins

Director: Mira Nair

Cast: Denzel Washington, Roshan Seth, Sarita Choudhury

Mississippi Masala depicts and African American man and East African Indian Woman assimilated in America, fall in love amidst the rural backdrop of Mississippi, USA despite familial disapproval. It shows the relations between African American’s and south Asian Americans with nuance.

Bhaji On The Beach (1993)

Duration: 1hr 41mins

Director: Gurinder Chadha

Cast: Kim Vithana, Jimmi Harkishin, Sarita Khajuria

A group of Indian women of differing generations living in Birmingham, UK, take a trip together to a beach resort in Blackpool. A myriad of events throughout the day lead them to better mutual understanding and solidarity. One of the Indian women shown is in a relationship with a black British man.

Zulu Love Letter

Duration: 1hr 45mins

Director: Ramadan Suleman

Cast: Pamela NomveteMpumi MalatsiSophie Mgcina

A young black journalist living in Johannesburg has a deaf teenage daughter with her divorced Indian husband. She tries to find the perpetrators that killed a young girl she saw murdered during apartheid rule in South Africa, a decade prior to the present day. The backdrop of the present day holds some hope as the first multiracial democratic elections are being help and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) have been formed.

The Lovebirds (2020)

Duration: 1hr 27mins

Director: Michael Showalter

Cast: Issa Rae, Kumail Nanjiani, Paul Sparks

A couple experiences a defining moment in their relationship when they are unintentionally embroiled in a murder mystery. They must decide whether going to the police and being honest is the best idea or if racial profiling will find them guilty anyway, as they track the real killer in an attempt to clear their name.

Namaste Wahala (2020)

Duration:

Director: Hamisha Daryani Ahuja

Cast: Ini Dima-Okojie, Ruslaan Mumtaz

This film is yet to be released but it will show a romance between an Indian man and a Nigerian woman, which shall result in a grand wedding, weaving their vibrant cultures and families together. It is a promising Bollywood Nollywood rom-com and you can read more about my excitement here!

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