The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Feb 21, 2011

Psychically Halanth

With a writer and producer named Anupam Nigam, one shouldn't be surprised to have an occasional Indian theme pop up in that hit US television series Psych. Diversity in America usually means ten white guys, a couple of white women, a token black guy, and the occasional East Asian or Indian in a stereotypical role - a yakuza or geek for the former, a doctor or geek for the latter. Psych is a bit different: two white women, one black man, one white Hispanic, one white white actor. The white Hispanic plays an Anglo, though, so I'm wrong, it's not that different, then.

Anyway. In September 2009, in Psych's season 4, there was an episode titled Bollywood Homicide. I think this is a bit of a play on some obscure Harrison Ford flick; there's (spoiler alert!) no homicide in this episode. What is has, though, is several Indian actors, none of whom is a geek or doctor.

(On the other hand, there's the obligatory allusion to spicy food. Hey, we can't be too choosy.)

Madhur Jaffrey is delightfully acerbic, though.

The great thing about the episode was not the story (weak) or the humour (weaker). It was the theme song - rendered into Hindi! - and the lead subtitles - in Devanagari! These are to be commended wholeheartedly. I mean, come on, Devanagari? In an American TV serial? How cool is that?

Now I don't know if Anupam Nigam knows any Hindi or not, but I have to reproach the producers for their omission of serious editing. The spellings were awful. Awful. As an example, Dule Hill was rendered as दुले हलि . Come on, people. Get the matras right, ok? Maggie Lawson appeared as म्यागी ल्योसन , and - to be honest - it wasn't even the Lyoson that bugged me, but the use of the full ल with the whatchamacallit sign below. Is it called a Halanth? I've forgotten, dash it.

Also, Maggi - the noodle - is well-known in India, and has long been spelt in a standard way, so it shouldn't have been beyond the title editor's nous to figure that out, either.

In fact, nearly every name was misspelt.

You may wonder why it's all exercising me now, nearly eighteen months after the event. Well, we in the UK were treated to this episode only last night, and so here I am.

(I'm nitpicking, of course. But then I am in a persnickety mood.)


Agnija said...

Yes, it is halanth. And if you are in a persnickety mood here is some more fodder. It's called Outsourced. It has an all Indian (but not from India) cast except for three people and they are (surprise, surprise) working in a call center. I am not sure if NBC is trying to get all Indians in America killed or something! Anyway, none of the Indians have a real Indian accent. The meanings of the names are so off! Can't remember them exactly, couldn't watch more than 0.25 episode. Regular puke fest!

Fëanor said...

I'm wondering if Outsourced was based on a British comedy series starring Sanjeev Bhaskar, as a Brit Indian sent to desh to oversee a call centre that's falling apart, and then an Englishwoman is sent to supervise him, and the two get romantically involved. But much of the call centre cast is desi, and many are given some snarky lines to deliver upon the unsuspecting Brits who call up for help. Again, not a great show.

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