REVIEW: Brown Nation

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Brown Nation

For many years, Asian culture has gone unacknowledged in movies and TV. A fringe of a fringe culture, ignored by mainstream media. Sadly, it took the horrific events of 9/11 to put us on the map. But even then, the portrayal of Asians on soaps such as Eastenders or Coronation Street was still an easy-to-spot, badly-researched, cliched fake. Much like the expensive-yet-mediocre Indian restaurant situated in a predominantly white area. Inauthentic.

‘Brown Nation’ is a refreshingly realistic independently-produced television series set in New York, which follows the life of Gujarati IT consultant Hasmukh (Rajeev Varma), his struggling artist wife Dimple (Shenaz Treasurywala), and their live-in father-in-law Papaji.

Across ten 20-minute episodes, we explore Hasmukh’s life as a stereotypically cheap Gujarati man striving to excel in his career, keep his wife happy – and save money!

Brown Nation is a triumph in independent entertainment production. The scripts are seasoned with cultural nuance while driving clearly-communicated stories. There is an element of naturally cheesy Indian-ness about some of the episodes, but this is more of a celebration of identity than it is a stigmatisation. And while many of the characters lean on cliche, it’s somehow not something to hold against them. They are possibly the most authentic ethnic characters in a Western TV show; embracing their cultural identity rather than denying it and trying to conform.

There are tiny signs of a stretched production budget, though these may only be visible to fellow independent film-makers and, rather than being something to criticise, it makes the achievement of Brown Nation something to really marvel at.

Great show. We recommend it.

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Brown Nation is currently available to stream on Netflix.

 

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