Daler Mehendi’s Missing Ingredient

12 Jun

So I’m watching The Unusuals – a mildly quirky procedural that I would have recommended you check out at least once when nothing else was on, if they hadn’t already canceled it… because why approve a show with low ratings from Bones-creator Noah Hawley when you have Castle, another show with low ratings that’s pretty much Bones-put-through-a-blender?

Anyhow, in typical fashion Shraeger (Amber Tamblyn) and Walsh (Jeremy Renner) mistakenly knock on this tiny apartment that’s stuffed full of possibly illegal Asian immigrants. Since they landed there in pursuit of a drug dealer and apartments full of illegal immigrants lead to too much paperwork and not enough payoff (I guess?), Shraeger and Walsh decide to just take the helpful pointer from the nervous man who answered the door and move on to the correct address.

Suddenly my attention is caught by the rising tempo of the vaguely Indian-sounding background track. Why does it sound so familiar? Is there a point where every random sitar track and man tonelessly yowling “aaaa” becomes familiar to South Asians? Or could it be…? Nah. Is it…? No, that would be too random. I mean, why would…

Yup, it’s Daler Mehendi. Singing Tunak Tunak Tun.

And it was good. In fact, it was amazing what a difference it made to the song when you swapped out the multiple Dalers in psychedelic kurtas and put in a dumbass drug dealer/stalker running from a couple of cops. Very exciting. I’m sure production values had something to do with it as well.

It more than made up for the mild aggravation I suffered last week when I put on the pilot episode of Royal Pains a.k.a. If Michael Westin was a Doctor in the Hamptons. Mark Fuerstein doesn’t annoy me in general and I was pretty happy that Burn Notice was back, so matters were fumbling along quite okay when Reshma Shetty showed up with a van full of medical equipment but no bindi or namaste in sight.

Hey now, I thought, she’s quite something. And then they did That Thing.

That Thing = They made her talk in Hindi.

If there’s one thing that bugs me more than fake Indian accents (especially the one that sounds like Apu because come on, people! At least try a little*), it’s when the writers decide to come up with Hindi dialogue that gives off the delicate aroma of Google Translate. I wonder if they do that with other languages too? Are there Hispanics out there who’ve learned to roll their eyes and turn the volume down when people on TV start mouthing off in Spanish?

Shetty, who doesn’t speak Hindi in real life (like, um, a great many Indians much less Indian Americans), apparently came up with the lines herself. Was there some reason she couldn’t use whatever language her parents speak? Maybe only Hindi-speakers are smart enough to make it to the Hamptons.**

I comfort myself with the thought that at least she doesn’t sound like Hank Azaria.

*Exception will be made for one person only: Mindy Kaling.

** Yes, I understand this is terribly nitpicky. I can’t help having ears, however.


Posted by on June 12, 2009 in Entertainment, Music, Television, Video


10 responses to “Daler Mehendi’s Missing Ingredient

  1. Arti

    June 12, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Yeah.. I caught that episode of Royal Pains too… “Jaati hun… Jaati hun..” she goes, and I’m thinking – huh? I’ve put that show on record though – they don’t make enough travel channel episodes on the Hamptons, so this will have to suffice.
    And, Castle, is it? Anything worthy of comparison with Bones warrants at least one watch.

  2. Steer, eh? (N)o, type!

    June 12, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    There can only be one thing worse than “That Thing” in mainstream sitcoms, and it’s getting the stereotyping thingee all wrong (cue: Latest episode on Disney’s “Suite Life On the Deck” called The Mommy and the Swami, where they use north Indian actors to play the Thillana Mohanambal style mom-daughter duo. Would love to see you jump off a cliff watching that one!). Argh! Can’t they find writers who “type” better?

  3. deewane

    June 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    And they used ‘ek ladki ko dekha toh aisa laga’ in a new yoplait commercial. I was surprised 😛

  4. pitu

    June 13, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Ohh god, I hate desi actors in America, I rly do. It’s because they are so effing LAZY!! What the heck is wrong with them? Why is it so difficult to get your lines right??! Argh. Also, this is something else I have noticed -whenever an Indian character is mentioned in a tv show/movie/book, their name is always made up or wrongly spelled or makes no sense. Like in an episode of ‘Medium’, Joe speaks with a desi guy in Bangalore and his name is ‘Mr. Reshmi’. Like what, reshmi kababs? I have NEVER heard that last name! Or this movie where the guy played a desi taxi driver and he was clearly Bangladeshi in real life! Or names where the first name is clearly Muslim, like Ahmad or whatever and the last name is Parekh for cryin out loud.

    A little bit of research, people, would do a world of good.

    *rant over*

  5. Amey

    June 14, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    Whenever I come across a reference to an Indian character with “call center” accent, I go back and watch all the videos with “gora smuggler” in 80’s style Bollywood movies I can get my hands on. Just doing my bit for cosmic balance, you know 😉

  6. Se(N)t

    June 14, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    “And they used ‘ek ladki ko dekha toh aisa laga’ in a new yoplait commercial.” The next thing we know, they’re making a commercial with the “When it rains it pours” Morton girl (yeah, the yellow-haired little girl, in the yellow dress and yellow ballet shoes, on that salt box stacked in your friendly neighborhood grocery store shelf) tossing her lilac-n-white umbrella, flailing her arms and singing Vaan Megam (from Punnagai Mannan) in the pouring rain! 😀

  7. Amrita

    June 15, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Arti – even better, it has Nathan Fillion on it! Yum yum yum. I’ll say this for Joss Whedon – he knows how to choose the yummy. They stopped rather abruptly on epi 10 but they’ll be back in the fall. It takes a while to build up though – it was about episode 6 before I liked it.

    Ste-no-type – I really hope you have kids or else I must bow down to the master who sees TV shows even I don’t watch!

    Pitu – hahahah, I would totally call people after various kababs – Reshmi, nargisi, tangda, etc! Talking about clueless people, just the other day somebody mentioned an Indian character called Patel whose family is from UP! lolz.

    Amey – (in gora accent) tum theek kehta hai, yeh idea right hai! hum bhi karega!

    Se(N)t – 😀 you made me senti:

    • Ste-no-type

      June 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm

      @Mari ( = Amrita?): Oh I’ve got two third graders — one lives in my house and the other, in my head. So yeah, Disney’s de rigueur. (Can’t see why I would have it any other way when, shortly after I called you The Magic Carpet, I got treated to Prince Ali tossing Princess Jasmine the (forbidden?) apple…and you say I made you senti! And besides, there’s this myth floating around that summer minus Disney channel can be near-suicidal for parents and I am so not in the mood for taking chances…) 😀

  8. pitu

    June 16, 2009 at 10:23 am

    OMG REVATHY!!!!!!!!!

    • Amrita

      June 16, 2009 at 2:21 pm

      well if you feel like that about her, here’s one of my favorite songs starring a tremendously cute Revathy:

      it’s crazy how much she resembles Meenakshi Seshadri in this.

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