Season two of Bridgerton dropped amid much hype and anticipation last week and introduced two new characters – sisters Kate and Edwina Sharma, newly arrived in London from Bombay. Set as it is in an alternate historical universe where society was racially integrated, viewers were not surprised to see two desi women as society debutantes in Regency-era England. What did surprise many was the lack of research that the Netflix show put in before introducing two Indian characters.
Between playing the ‘maruli’ (an instrument that does not exist), reading Ghalib (who was not yet writing at the time period the show is set in), and speaking ‘Hindustani’ – desi viewers found much to critique in the show. On Twitter, opinion varied as to what the worst offence was.
“It’s difficult to pick a favourite clumsy Indian reference on Bridgerton2, but mine’s gotta be Edwina asking Anthony if he has read ‘Guhleeeb'” one Twitter user wrote.
It’s difficult to pick a favourite clumsy Indian reference on Bridgerton 2, but mine’s gotta be Edwina asking Anthony if he has read “Guhleeeb”. pic.twitter.com/XJYjX8OwM0
— Amaal Akhtar (@begumakhwrote) March 27, 2022
The Ghalib reference, in fact, annoyed many. Author Shiv Ramdas pointed out that the renowned poet, who was born in 1797, would have been just 16 at the time period in which the show is set.
apparently in Bridgerton they had a time machine that gave them access to the future writings of a then 16 year old Ghalib who at the time had written….exactly nothing
— Shiv Ramdas Traing To Rite Buk (@nameshiv) March 27, 2022
People also took issue with the pronunciation of Ghalib.
— ???? (@Apartofhisplan) March 26, 2022
In the show, while espousing the many virtues of her sister Edwina, Kate says that she is fluent in both “Marathi and Hindustani” – another point that created a storm online. Given that Hindustani is not a term used colloquially, many viewers felt the show would have been better off avoiding it.
I’m not watching Bridgerton but I’m annoyed that they refer to “Hindustani” as a language & that ppl on reddit/Google says it’s correct. Personally, I don’t recall anyone ever referring to Hindi/Hindi-Urdu as Hindustani except maybe in old books. Feels *very* colonial. Ugh.
— Ren (@the_rebel_ren) March 27, 2022
— Ave???? (@nottodayimbored) March 25, 2022
In the same scene, Kate says her sister plays an instrument called maruli. Viewers wondered if the showmakers meant to say “murali” or flute
As far as I know there is no language ‘Hindustani’ or an instrument ‘maruli’. There is Hindi & murali (flute) of course. I wonder if creators of @bridgerton shouldn’t have at least done some research & checked the correct terms before introducing brown characters in #Bridgertonpic.twitter.com/XOBLD467lY
— Prof. Pragya Agarwal (@DrPragyaAgarwal) March 25, 2022
Also what on earth is a “ Maruli”? Is this their way of saying flute? ???????? #Bridgerton#bridgertonseason2#bridgertonS2#culturalcacophony#NonsenseWords#AppaItSeems#HodgePodge#PurplePatchpic.twitter.com/lYXYh0pvFr
— Priya (@pliyaaa) March 26, 2022
There were many other inaccuracies that irked viewers
So #bridgertonS2 casts two South Asian women in major roles, gives their characters the last name Sharma, they supposedly speak Marathi and Hindustani but they call their father ‘appa,’ and the older sis calls the younger one ‘bon.’
— Sunny Singh (@ProfSunnySingh) March 26, 2022
— rosetintednerdglasses (@RoseTintedNG) March 26, 2022
Another problem I had with them was- calling their dad- Appa, but referring to her older sister as didi. Which part of India did these Urdu speaking Sharma ji’s daughters come from??
— Pooja Darolia (@poojadarolia) March 28, 2022
But some things the show did get right – fans were delighted to note Kate brewed her tea with elaichi (cardamom), the Haldi ceremony and more. The bonus, of course, was iconic Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham music playing in the background.
— Shilpa Joshi (@shilpajo) March 27, 2022
It’s the smallest of things in s2 of #Bridgerton that really stand out to me. One particular case is when Kate is making tea but she uses whole spices to infuse the tea first just like how many South Asians do when making their chai. #bridgertonseason2pic.twitter.com/pZ6VHx6qQ1
— karm is currently obsessing over birdgerton ✨ (@karmeeleon) March 25, 2022
All the little pieces of South Asian culture sprinkled in were so well done. Like oiling hair, making chai with whole ingredients, the haldi ceremony and the bangles Kate wore. Add in K3G as a background music it was surreal seeing it on a Hollywood show. #Bridgertonpic.twitter.com/BkX1zOu532
— Van ⛈ (@excuseofreality) March 26, 2022
Bridgerton, produced by Shonda Rhimes, is a period drama based on novels by Julia Quinn. The second season of the hugely popular show debuted on Netflix on March 25. It has reportedly been renewed for a third and fourth season.
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