Barbaric Brown Men and Civilized White Ladies

By Amina Rai, Usamah Ansari and Sumayya Kassamali

As diasporic South Asians, the event of Partition has left a salient mark on how we imagine history. Vic Sarin’s “Partition”, starring Kristen Kreuk (as Naseem Khan) and Jimi Mistry (as Gian Singh), is not only offensive to this history but confirms a colonialist civilizing logic and the supposed barbarity of South Asians. Yet in discussing this film, one must begin by asking why it was made. Indeed there are many “Parition films” made in Bollywood and Pakistan. Some examples are “Veer Zara”, “Khamosh Pani”, “Gaddar”, “Hina” and “Pinjar”. It is clear to us, then, that “Partition” was made to give a western audience an essentialized vision of our inherent barbarity and present a longing for a colonial past – something these other films could not accomplish. Casting Kristen Kreuk to play a South Asian woman and of course using inconsistent Indian accents are just two examples of how the desired audience is implicated in the film.

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