Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rant - Why I Love to Hate the Character of Lola Kutty

I have been meaning to write this for some time, but life, among other things, got in the way. I am a true blue hater of the character Lola Kutty (for the uninitiated, she is the loud character that comes on Channel V, the MTV clone parodying all things about Malayalis). Don’t ask me why, the reasons are obvious enough.

Firstly, (this is something that gets my goat, and goatee), her accent isn’t original – though she tries very hard. The character of Lola comes out as fake. The people behind the concept have done a wrong thing by targeting a community, parodying their way of life. I think they even tend to create ill-feelings against Malayalis by their portrayal of the Malayali stereotype. If this is not a slur on a community then what is?

They had a show where a Malayali chorus was organized to sing, of all things, Boney M songs. The singers, poor Malayalis, weren’t told that this is going to be a parody on their community. This means, they were singing in all earnest without knowing that they were being laughed at. Again, if this isn’t a slur, what is?

Alex is another character who is some kind of a sidekick, a dumb one at that. He has an obsequious nature and brings Lola everything from coconut water to don’t know what, and, here again, is an extension of the parody. He is shown always dressed in a lungi and a colorful shirt and has curly hair combed into a bouffant. Do all Malayali men look like him?

Lola seems to have captured celebrities’ fancy too. At a Bollywood function, stars – Amitabh for one – was seen hugging and saying “Lola we love you.” For what, may I ask; for wrongful portrayal of a community?

I have mulled at times about taking this up with the Advertising Standards Council (of which I was some hotshot functionary) but found that it doesn’t fall within its ambit. Or, maybe, the Prasar Bharti, which controls All India Radio and Doordarshan, or, just maybe, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

The fact that a community has been wrongly targeted and the show which does this has survived so far is something short of miraculous. Why hasn’t the Malayali community (usually very emotional about their culture and identity) reacted to this slur? I wonder.

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