Ever since we saw Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie Bradshaw in the gorgeous Falguni Shane Peacock lehenga, the desi fan and fashionista inside us couldn’t wait to watch that particular episode from her latest Sex And The City's reboot series And Just Like That. We remember makers being lauded for including fashion that isn’t just from Paris or Milan but seems like the representation was just on papers!
After the much-anticipated episode was aired, people could spot traces of cultural appropriation more than Indian representation. For starters, when Carrie and her realtor-turned-friend Seema (essayed by Sarita Choudhary) enter into Manhattan's ‘sari shop’, one could see nothing but lehengas all over the place. However, the word ‘lehenga’ never came up in their entire conversation and was referred to as ‘sari’ for the entire time. One reason behind this could be that a sari is a more popular word than a ‘lehenga’ in the Westerner’s dictionary but that simply doesn’t mean substituting a couture’s name from someone else’s culture with a more comfortable term that suits your liking. Probably the makers would’ve thought going into details about another’s culture couture is too much information? Who knows!
Also what's with that dramatic dialogue, "It's not cultural appropriation, It's cultural appreciation." Pretty sure none of the Indians abroad talk like that!
While Seema's Tarun Tahiliani saree was a treat to behold, we feel Carrie’s lehenga, sans the dupatta could have been better styled. Instead of blending the look according to the Indian culture, she was given a floral headgear that came out a bit off when teamed with her elegant ethnic outfit.
Also, what baffled the viewers was that it was the first time Carrie heard of ‘Diwali’ where Seema robotically explained to her as ‘the festival of lights’- something we learned in our first grade probably. Given the demography of Indians spread across the United States and New York itself, this came across as too explanatory for the plot. We understand that having a reference is a good thing but this whole episode was treated as nothing but just another additional prop to the main character’s story instead of representing someone’s culture. Another incident from the episode included Seema’s mother (essayed by Madhur Jaffery) being disappointed about her daughter’s single status. It’s 2022! Stereotyping Indians being obsessed about their daughter’s marriage is not the way to go. Indians (even the ones who live abroad) do not keep on over thinking about getting their children hitched as implied in the episode.
The episode caused a lot of uproar online. Internet’s fashion police, Diet Sabya also started a discussion where netizens put down their views about the episode in the question.
Check out the comments below:
This is not the first time Indians are stereotyped and sadly, it won't be the last one, nor is it gonna be the last instance of White privilege and ignorance that we see. While they did name the episode ‘Diwali’ it would have been really nice if the makers could have presented it in an appropriate way. However, it’s a start, miles to go…
(Source- [email protected] Sabya, And Just Like That, Vogue India)