Bangle bracelets

Does “Bridgerton” do justice to its Indian characters?

There are several parallels between Bridgertonthe second season and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, an epic family drama set partly in London following two siblings who fall in love (the eldest of whom is adopted). A, confirmed by Netflix, is the sequence at the altar when Kate drops her mother’s green and gold bracelet, only for Anthony to rush to pick it up and return it to her. The nostalgic looks and the tension between them echo those between Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) and Anjali (Kajol) in the film when he slips a pair of green and gold bracelets onto her wrist. Bracelets are a crucial part of Indian bridal ensembles and either way their central presence in the story alludes to a future union.

Even the jewelry that didn’t exist to further the plot — Kate and Edwina’s gold jhumkas, necklaces dripping with pearls, chains with intricately designed lockets — were a joy to behold. The pieces were delicate and, in wide shots, not too dissimilar to the gemstones worn by the Bridgertons and the Featheringtons, yet on closer inspection they reminded me of what my mother had worn on her wedding day. They illustrate perhaps more than anything else what I enjoyed most about Bridgertonapproach. These details are Easter eggs for South Asian viewers and are completely understated for everyone else. They are neither exotic nor dissected. They are just presented without commentary.

Producer Shonda Rhimes and creator Chris Van Dusen deserve even more credit given that in Season 2 source material, Julia Quinn The viscount who loved me, Kate and Edwina are clearly white and have the surname Sheffield, not Sharma. Reimagining them and their mother, Mary, as transplants from Bombay, Rhimes and Van Dusen could easily have established that fact in a withering Lady Whistledown voiceover and left it at that. (After all, the ethnicities of many characters in Bridgerton are not addressed at all.) Instead, they went much further in respecting their heritage. It’s both heartening and a reminder that we as South Asians are so rarely fed drama in English when it comes to seeing glamorous, worldly and flawed reflections of ourselves. With Bridgertonwe gobble down every bite we’re given, but it also makes us want more.