Recently, Sikh characters have found a popular place in Bollywood films, though such portrayals tend to perpetuate the stereotype of Sikhism as an exotic and warrior-based religion, according to an article in the journal Sikh Formations (published online Aug. 21).
Today, top Bollywood actors are vying with each other to play Sikh characters, and such films as “Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year,” and “Singh is Kinng” have created what author Anjali Gera Roy calls a “Sikh cool.” Sikhs’ prominent representation in India’s military and their more rural backgrounds have established Sikh characters as rustic and masculine; the turban and beard only highlight these features and add to their sex appeal.
Roy adds that in more recent years, the portrayal of the Sikh as embodying rustic authenticity has progressed to a Sikh playing the figure of the self-made entrepreneur. But in the majority of films, the Sikh is seen through the camera lens as reaffirming “family ties, community, traditional values, sincerity and conviviality that is contrasted with the aspirations of an urban middle class globalized India towards an individualized, instrumentalist, modern and work-centered ethic,” Roy concludes.
(Sikh Formations, http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/rsfo20/current#.VAbQcix0y1s.)