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.
Brown Nation is currently available to stream on Netflix.