If you watched the recent episode from Family Guy, “Road to India”, you would be reminded of an India almost fifteen years ago. It was great to see women in call centres wearing half-sarees and sarees, a rare occurrence in most parts of India and definitely not New Delhi!
Although the portrayal of India is very different from reality, I quite liked what I saw. It was an outsider’s perspective of India beyond romanticizing poverty and hunger that exists there. Stereotypes are important to allow audiences to relate to a place and in that the episode did a good job, because it used stereotypes differently.
- India is supposed to be a land of snake-charmers: They stretched it to tape worms! It was funny to watch Stewie blow the snake-charmer’s flute to get tape worms out of people’s guts. And that was a strategy to earn money to win Padma’s father.
- Existence of dowry: It is a common fact that dowry is common in most marriages. But what was really funny is Padma’s father wasn’t concerned about his daughter marrying Brian but the amount he had spent on her dowry!
- Arranged marriage: Indians and arranged marriages are talked about a lot, but the funny part here was its resolution. The complication was easily solved by getting Padma’s sister engaged to the same guy – what is important isn’t the person but the money spent!
- Filth and population are inescapable: The fact that they land in Delhi and are invited by trash was funny, yet real. I wouldn’t say Delhi airport is exactly like that, but Stewie saw it for what it is! What also strikes outsiders is the overwhelming crowd of people and there were some pertinent observations around that too, especially in relation to tapeworms.
- The obsession with cricket: The fact that Brian didn’t know ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ led Padma to realize that he is not meant for her was really funny! “You know nothing about my culture”, she tells him after his failure at the KBC equivalent. It couldn’t be funnier, because she relates cricket to culture!
There is an article which says the season didn’t end with a bang. I beg to differ, I think it did, because the episode was not only funny but also was loaded with insights into the ‘culture’ of India. I think its Slumdog Millionaire reference also added to the humour, because in this episode the ‘Slumdog’ remains so and also loses the girl!
Although the clothes worn were a little anachronistic, it was a view of India that one hasn’t seen too often. It cracked me up!