Brie Larson's upcoming movie Basmati Blues hasn't hit cinemas yet, but it's already causing major controversy thanks to the trailer.
Basmati Blues stars Larson as Linda, a scientist who goes to India to sell genetically modified rice to local farmers. According to the film's IMDB entry, "[S]he doesn't realize will destroy the farmers she thinks she's helping."
But as BuzzFeed India's Sahil Rizwan pointed out, Basmati Blues' trailer features tonnes of stereotypes, not to mention the fact that it falls into the white saviour trope. There's a scene about Indian food being spicy, not to mention a stereotypical "big, colourful, and choreographed song and dance number," as Rizwan puts it.
Shout Factory, Basmati Blues' North American distributor, provided Refinery29 with the following statement from the movie's producer Monique Caulfield and director Dan Baron.
"We deeply regret any offense caused by the Basmati Blues trailer. We have heard a number of voices that have understandably reacted to a trailer that is not representative of the film as a whole. Unfortunately, the international trailer has given the wrong impression of the film's message and heart. This movie is not about an American going abroad to solve India's problems. At its heart, this film is about two people who reach across cultures, fight against corporate greed, and find love. Basmati Blues is an ensemble musical romantic comedy. The film explores our responsibility for our actions and for each other, and attempts to do it in a disarming way, using music, comedy, and romance. Basmati Blues is a love letter to multiple eras of Bollywood cinema, musicals, and classic Hollywood romantic comedies. We are confident that the film, when seen in its entirety, will bear out the our appreciation and respect for India and its people."
Rizwan's original post pointed out that the trailer also declares that "one woman will fight for justice" on screen, which evoked the "white saviour" criticism from numerous people. To be fair, it does look like Larson's character is fighting for justice, even if she has to go against the company that sent her to India in the first place. But the wording is still cringeworthy.
YouTube commenters were quick to criticise the trailer, with some pointing out the trailer's white saviour trope. One person also noted that in reality, the Indian characters probably wouldn't be speaking English to each other.
Others took to Twitter to voice their opinions.
"Oh great it's cringey white-people-in-India-saving-the-brown-savages season again," one person tweeted.
"It's 2017 & they're really still releasing these things," another person tweeted.
"This is ridiculous, they've completely ignored the culture of the country. Typical to portray India as about rice, spicy food, poverty, poor English and cringy music. India don't need a White saviour. We're good without them," one person wrote.
Hopefully, the filmmakers' statement is true, though, and the movie will be more respectful than the trailer makes it seem.
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