This week, Deepika Padukone was at the Cannes Film Festival. She mentioned something on the lines of there would be a time when India wouldn’t need to come to Cannes, but Cannes would come to India. The films that do well abroad, – like the Oscarnominated documentary directed by Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas, Writing with Fire, or Aditya Vikram Sengupta’s ‘Once Upon A Time in Calcutta’ which premiered at the 2021 Venice Film Festival – aren’t watched in India. But every year a delegation from India shows up at Cannes, to look glamorous.
Which brings me to my theory. If star power and delegations from India at Cannes keep growing, it adds to a long list of global things that hopes to eventually become Indian. This is only a slightly more serious version of the argument in the BBC sitcom Goodness Gracious Me – that Leonardo da Vinci (‘Da Vinci is from Faridabad not Florence’), Picasso, christianity, the British queen are all Indian.
My argument is slightly different. In this age of globalisation, certain institutions, places and global organisations had so many Indians aspiring to be a part of them, that now those places are full of Indians. And by default, have become an extension of India. IMF-World Bank: These two institutions are not only entirely full of Indians, they are specifically full of Bengalis and South Indians. I’m sure there are some Americans that work there, but it’s only a matter of time before that ends. Microsoft: The most popular dish at the Seattle software giant’s cafeteria is the dosa. And probably very soon, the only dish. Assume Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam are mainly spoken there, and English is a distant second. Mckinsey: Almost entirely Indian, although they’d argue they are ‘global’.
What that means is that it is only a matter of time before the German colleague is dancing to a Karan Johar song at a Delhi wedding with his 50 Indian colleagues. Miss World: In the 1990s, Miss Universe and Miss World became big. As a result, Indian entrepreneurs wanted to make it Indian. We made those pageants so Indian that we brought it to India, and subjected it to our chaos. The pageant carries on, but now exists in a distinct desi flavour. Any investment bank: Walk through the floors of JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs in New York or London, and every third name is a Sood or a Kapoor or a Tandon. The names that are not Indian are Cheng, Xu and Park.
Why White people prefer to quit and live on a yacht and become screenwriters is something for shrinks to analyse – a profession, thankfully, not yet overrun by us. Interlaken: This once sleepy Swiss town has been portrayed so often in the 90s Bollywood movies that it has become an entirely Indian tourist spot on the lines of Kalimpong or Srinagar. The Swiss have fled. Madame Tussaud’s: However weird it is to be made out of wax, once Madame Tussaud’s in London found out that there is an Indian customer base willing to come and pay and watch their celebs made out of wax – and that somehow it was a matter of pride to be featured – everyone from Aishwariya Rai to Narendra Modi got a statue. Harvard Business School: One or two West Asian billionaire kids aside, there are so many Indian kids at Harvard, that they might need a quota for American kids.
Not to mention, the current dean is of Indian origin. Hamleys: Once a British toy shop, it’s now owned, and filled with screaming Indian children. VFS: An Indian man figured out that the only people looking for visas anywhere in the world are Indians, given all first world passport folk have free access to each other’s countries.
If you go to any VFS – Visa Facilitation Service – outlet anywhere in the world, it is run by Indians and full of subcontinental folk applying for visas. There is no difference between VFS New York and VFS Bangalore. Bryan Adams: The singer is fully Indian, given how many concerts he does here. Canada rejected him, in all likelihood way back in the winter of ’69. He now probably lives in Rourkela