By Arré Bench
A recent episode of Quantico has irked Indians because it dared to imply Hindus are terrorists. Except that, their anger rests less with the show and more with Priyanka Chopra, for not representing India.
In 2015, when it was announced that Priyanka Chopra would star in Quantico, it was a cause for celebration for Indians. In bridging the gap between India and the western shores, Piggy Chops became the first-ever South Asian actor to lead a broadcast show in American TV history. For her fans in India, this was deemed a mammoth achievement, which is why news of ABC cancelling the fourth season of the show due to low ratings caused massive heartbroken outpouring.
All this, until a controversial episode of Quantico aired recently.
In “The Blood of Romeo”, the fifth episode of Quantico’s third season, an Indian man (meaning Hindu, obvs) is implicated for a terrorist attack, which was earlier attributed to a Pakistani. In the episode that aired on June 1, Alex Parrish and her FBI team come to know about a physics professor from Hudson University, who has stolen Uranium 235. This effectively meant that he might be an accessory to a planned nuclear explosion in Manhattan during an India-Pakistan peace summit over the touchy issue of Kashmir.
Parrish naturally thwarts the attempt by Hindu nationalists trying to frame Pakistanis for the attack by noticing – we really couldn’t make up such a thing – a rudraksh mala on one of the terrorists.
One would imagine that this Abbas-Mastan-level writing would get a rise out of Indians. But apparently, it was the implication that the terrorists were Hindu. And that the episode was also littered with jokes about the India-Pakistan rivalry.
The actress was trolled for her wardrobe at the Royal Wedding when a section of Indians were disappointed by the fact that Chopra didn’t think of wearing a sari, so as to ably represent India.
The plot twist resulted in widespread resentment among Indians on Twitter, who seemed enraged that Chopra could wilfully agree to maligning her country. At this point, two things become clear: One, that Indians still believe Chopra is some sort of an unofficial Indian ambassador, and two, they are incapable of separating fact from fiction.
“Have the makers of ‘Quantico’ outsourced scriptwriting to Digvijaya Singh?” quipped one Twitter user, while another deemed it fit to remind Chopra about her fauji-kid status and her responsibility to defend India against plot twists.
The fact that the Indian outrage against Quantico stems from our inability to imagine Hindus as extremists comes at a time when the Indian government has been attempting to distance itself from extremist Hindu organisations – all the time soft-pedalling the dream of a Hindu Rashtra. But the NDA’s tenure has witnessed umpteen acts of violence committed by these groups against minorities. The infamous Hafiz Junaid lynching is a prime example.
But most importantly, it’s also yet another example of the unfair expectations India has unceremoniously foisted on Priyanka Chopra’s shoulders. A few days ago, the actress was trolled for her wardrobe at the Royal Wedding when a section of Indians were disappointed by the fact that Chopra didn’t think of wearing a sari, so as to ably represent India. These were the same people who trolled her for visiting a Rohingya refugee camp in Bangladesh, instead of throwing the spotlight on the sufferings of Kashmiri Pandits and other Hindus.
At this point, there’s not much to do. The only way Indians will give Chopra a break is if she carries a “East or west, India is the best” placard everywhere.
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