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‘Dopinder’ In Deadpool Is Cultural Stereotyping At Its Worst

Should we be rejoicing at the inclusion of an Indian character in Marvel’s super-hero lineup? Is the naïve and exuberant cabbie Dopinder in Deadpool and Deadpool 2 to the brown skinned race what Black Panther is to the black?

Not quite. While the Back American population has much to be happy about in their colour-blind depiction in Black Panther, Dopinder in Deadpool 2 is pure cartoon.

Firstly, no such name exists in the Punjabi Book Of Names.I presume Dopinder is Punjabi. I also presume he will be a more integral part of the heroic lineup in Deadpool 3, so it is time his cultural specifications were rendered less blurred.

So is Dopinder Punjabi? The name suggests the same. But why is he so mushily obsequious towards Deadpool? The other members of Deadpool’s squad including a Black American woman played by Zazie Beets, are anything but awed by the masked and deformed hero.They all treat him with some kind of affectionate disdain.

Only ‘Dopinder’ Karan Soni stands there looking at Ryan Reynolds as though the sun rises and sets from the latter posterior. Mop in hand and stars in his eyes Soni seems thrilled to be the first brown-skinned Asian to be “honoured” with a plum role in Deadpool 2.

In an interview to India-West Soni speaking about the inclusion of Brown-skinned characters says, “I feel every year, every month, every day, it’s getting better. I also feel lucky to be the kind of part of stepping stone like being a brown actor and popular… My hope is that it’s not a trend and it keeps continuing…Eventually my hope is that in my lifetime there will be an English Hollywood movie with an all-brown cast. That would be the ultimate thing to watch all kinds of people going to watch that film. Maybe I could be an old uncle or something.”

However a versatile Indian actor who has worked substantially in Hollywood and the West feels Karan Soni’s excitement is misplaced. “He comes across in Deadpool and Deadpool 2 as naïve nerdy very very exotic and servile.He is to Ryan Reynolds what Dr Aziz was to Adela Quested in E.M Foster’s A Passage To India. I hope the Deadpool team works on making Dopinder’s character more assimilated to the American culture.Right now Dopinder sticks out like a sore thumb. I’d never never do that part.”

However film critic Raja Sen feels there is no reason to get over-sensitive over the issue. “Dopinder is a silly brown caricature with an overdone accent, and we Indians could choose to be offended by this but Deadpool 2 makes fun of everyone and everything, from its leading man to its director to the way someone can be labelled racist.”

However Sen admits the portrayal of Dopinder is no laughing matter. “Dopinder isn’t a particularly funny character, unfortunately. Indian audiences should find solace in the fact that he listens to Swades songs, allowing us to finally hear a Rahman track in a superhero movie.”

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