Indian-American actor Kal Penn has highlighted racial stereotypes prevalent in Hollywood by sharing “awful” audition scripts he was given in the early years of his career. Penn, an Indian-American actor best known for his roles in the “Harold & Kumar” films and the TV series “House”, uploaded excerpts of the scripts to Twitter. Also Read - Indian-American Research Team Develops Phone-Based Saliva Test, Rewarded With Rs 73 Lakh
They highlight television, film and advertisement roles that play up cultural stereotypes, including auditions for a “Gandhi lookalike”, “snake charmer” and “Pakistani computer geek in a perpetual state of perspiration”. Also Read - Monsoon Session Day 2: Lok Sabha Passes Essential Commodities Bill to Raise Farmer Income, Boost Agri Sector | Highlights
“Found a bunch of old scripts from some of my first years trying to be an actor,” Penn wrote before posting screenshots from shows such as “Sabrina the Teenage Witch”, “The King of Queens” and “Smart Guy”. Several of the roles called for Penn to speak with an accent, usually for humorous effect. Also Read - 'Jammu And Kashmir to Reopen For Tourism Soon', Says J&K Administration
In one unnamed audition for a character named Careem, the script calls on to speak in a “slight Hindi accent”.
Penn said casting agents asked him : “Can you make his accent a little more authentic?” He added: “That usually meant they wanted (The Simpsons character) Apu.” Referring to another audition, for a character named Prajeeb in the American TV series Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Penn said: “We got into it about why he had to have an accent.” Other scripts played up cultural stereotypes surrounding characters of Indian and Pakistani heritage. In an audition for one of Penn’s first commercials, the character description refers to a “25-year-old Pakistani computer geek who dresses like Beck and is in a perpetual state of perspiration”.
“The makeup people would use Vaseline to get the sweaty unwashed look going,” Penn recalled.
Another script, for a project called The Marriage Clause, has an extended joke about the high population rate in India, while the script for The King of Queens features a mix-up over the pronunciation of a character’s Indian name. “I used to love that show until I got to audition for it,” Penn wrote.