Ah #BBC: Why you do this?

Day 101

The inaccuracy riding on black or white notions of facts with zero tolerance towards grey area – is exactly what makes for irritable sensational news.

I read this article about Bridgerton and had to frown.

Yes the show is questionable in its regards – particularly featuring a Black Lord Hastings (wasn’t the real Lord Hastings also motherless at birth and often rumoured to be coloured because of his abysmal tan under Indian sun as he was sent to Kasimbazar, a major trading post in Bengal – and later became the first Governor of the Presidency of Fort William (Bengal), the head of the Supreme Council of Bengal, and so the first de facto Governor-General of Bengal in 1772–1785), then the question of a black queen (wait… wasn’t Queen Charlotte – married to King George III – actually the first British royal to have Black/Sub-Saharan lineage from Margarita de Castro y Sousa – Portuguese royal bloodline?); as well as the deliberate – poor colonial India and it’s Indians – as a hint while talking about Indian women moving from Bombay to London (as-if no privileged Indian ever did that in 18th/19th Century colonial India! Forget colonial India, South Asians moving to London can be traced back 500-years if not more, and if you must – remember academics such as Cornelia Sorabji and Rabindranath Tagore)!

That article got my skin slightly crawling due to its inaccuracies – and lack of understanding creative-freedom while bridging history and anthropology. Of course empathy towards representation was highlighted but finer details were left inaccurately stated – or better said, left dicey.

Awkward was how the BBC journalist did not consider the obvious borrowing of Lord Hasting’s accomplishments that brought Madras and Bombay under Bengal’s control – while the article went ahead to point-out linguistic absurdity behind the Sharma sisters using Didi (Hindi and Bengali for older sister), Bon (Bengali for younger sister) and Appa (widely used in Southern Indian languages for father) in their conversation, and then callously mentioning that it’s what the public speculate, without considering the melting pot of culture. Really? Purist much!

Oh and the trope of the ring. Ever heard of “The Family Stone”? I don’t recall that to be a Bollywood movie!

Then comes the part that made my hair stand on its edge. Miraculously a tradition from South Asia becomes religious in this article thanks to BBC’s lack of fact-checking. Haldi.

It is not just in Hindu tradition, it is also in Muslim tradition, known as Manjha (bride and groom get smeared with a paste of turmeric and sandalwood in rosewater/milk). Not just that – an Indian Christian wedding often has the haldi and mehendi ceremony known as Haldaat. Applying Haldi on a bride or a groom’s body is not limited to Hinduism – rather it is a practice going back centuries that was to hone bridal beauty through the golden tint that turmeric leaves on skin and to cleanse any skin issues prior to wedding. It was and still is a beauty ritual – not limited to religion but rather tradition.

Then out of the blue comes a dash of shunning beauty standards in Bollywood casting practices – as if seriously dusky skinned women such as Konkona Sen, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Tannishtha Chatterjee, Feida Pinto, Deepika Padukone, never happened! One might wonder if the journalist only watches movies with the Kapoor sisters featured in it? Or if brightness/contrast filters are thought to be a matter of fiction and not a fact?!?

Anyway, despite my pregnancy hormones – this blogger couldn’t overlook rubbish notions published on a prestigious portal as BBC.com’s News – again proving that East will always be looked upon with half educated Western gaze. To be honest I would much rather see facts put forward on BBC, actual research being done that ignites interest and enhances knowledge rather than narrating hear-say social media gibberish through eloquent words.

For sure, I am not impressed.

2 thoughts on “Ah #BBC: Why you do this?

  1. The mother of Edwina is the daughter of a Desi woman and Lord Sheffield who married a “common” man from India.

    It was never stated that the mother’s Desi background was the same as her husband’s (the absolute opposite is actually obvious!). So why couldn’t she have Bengali heritage and her late husband be from Southern India (for example)?

    And let’s not forget that Kate was the child from a previous marriage. Maybe her late mother was the one that brought in linguistic diversity.

    Who knows. There are *thousand* scenarios that would explain why the Sharma sisters speak and casually use various Indian languages. Why not emphasize some of that linguistic and cultural diversity to your readers, BBC? Isn’t it sad that a show like Bridgerton (problematic as it can be) seems to be doing a better job at that? Without even really trying?

    The series also makes it crystal clear that Kate loves and misses India and wants to go back.


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