I got to watch the new Star Trek movie in a rather “romantic” date with Tiga and something caught my eye. I was not aware that Bernard Cumberbatch was set to play Khan Noonien Singh. I didn’t really notice this till my brother wondered why the “White Guy Was Called Khan”.
So I explained to him that in the original Khan was the most infamous villains and widely considered the “best” of them. While he won’t be watching the Wrath of Khan anytime soon, he still brought up something rather disturbing to me.
Am I the only one who remembers that Khan Noonien Singh is for want of a better word… Indian? And that Ricardo Montalban was picked for the role because he was vaguely swarthy and was passable as a North Indian during a period with few Indian actors, but surely with our modern hiring practices we could “get” someone who was Indian and could act.
So… why on earth have they cast a white dude as Khan… I mean… Anton Chekov and Hikari Sulu clearly are a russian and a east asian (His ethnicity in the original is never mentioned). Scotty is scottish. So why can’t Khan be “Indian”.
Come on Hollywood… There are Indian actors. Hire them… If we can be your young men on boats and your slumdogs, then why can’t we be hired to play roles that involve our ethnicity.
Khan Noonien Singh was the first Indian Character I saw on western TV that was not a fucking stereotype. He was smart, strong, powerful. He wasn’t a grovelling shopkeeper. He was exciting… And most importantly… HE WAS NOT A STEREOTYPE! He didn’t own a cornershop or a taxi. He didn’t speak like a “Goodness Gracious Me” character. He was epic…
Consider how remarkably progressive Star Trek was and then consider that we live in a more enlightened age, don’t we owe it to ourselves to step back from the notion that we can’t hire an Indian to play an Indian role?
Because it looks like “The Ideal Indian Superman Is a White Man” (Which has major cultural issues since that is “technically” true. Indians fetishise white people like white people fetishise east asians).
I am not sure if I should feel troubled or not.