Bridgerton season 2: South Asians proud of Indian cultural references


Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran as Kate Sharma and Edwina Sharma in Bridgerton

Viewers have shared their pride seeing South Asian representation in the new season (Picture: Netflix)

Warning: spoilers ahead for Bridgerton season 2.

Bridgerton has returned, and while there may be fewer steamy scenes and a noticeable lack of Regé-Jean Page, one thing the Netflix show has amped up this time around is its diversity.

Stepping away from Julia Quinn’s novels, Bridgerton season 2 revolves around the Sharma family, not the Sheffields.

Having moved from India to London, the season follows Anthony Bridgerton (Jonathan Bailey) catching the eye of Edwina Sharma (Charithra Chandran), while her older, unmarried sister Kate (Simone Ashley) is set against the match.

Things get a little more complicated (and steamier) when Kate and Anthony forge their own connection.

Along the way, they celebrate a Haldi ceremony as a traditional Indian wedding ritual, drop in Indian words in perfected posh Indian accents, and break down the barriers of colourism that continues to perpetuate in Hollywood and Bollywood.

And the South Asian community is fully behind it.


Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran as Kate Sharma and Edwina Sharma in Bridgerton

Sisters Kate and Edwina have a very strong bond (Picture: Netflix)

Notable references include the names the sisters call each other, as Edwina uses the respectable Hindi term Didi for her elder sister, while Kate adopts Bon, a nickname translating to ‘little sister’ in Bengali.

The pair also refer to their father in Bengali as ‘Appa’, and, while many have commented on Kate and Edwina themselves being Western names, the final episode reveals Kate’s full name to be Kathani, as said by her future husband, Anthony.

From an instrumental cover of a popular Bollywood song played during a traditional Indian wedding ritual, to Hindi names and a relatable, well-known Indian surname, the pride felt about the representation culminates when Kate utters the words every South Asian feels: ‘I despise English tea.’


Simone Ashley in Bridgerton

‘I despise English tea,’ Kate states. (Picture: Netflix)

Speaking to Metro.co.uk, Bridgerton fan Surangi Mendis said: ‘The casting of these two women, in one of the most-watched Netflix series of all time, is such a massive win for South Asian representation.

‘We are underrepresented in TV, film and theatre and the achievements of these women should be celebrated, not only because they are South Asian, but because for me, being able to see a fellow dark-skinned individual cast in a lead role such as this is incredibly validating.


bridgerton

‘I am excited for the doors this opens up for all our children, particularly our daughters’ (Picture: Netflix)

‘I am excited for the doors this opens up for all our children, particularly our daughters. Casting Simone Ashley and Charithra Chandran challenges our communities’ out-dated and damaging ideas around colourism; something which is long overdue.’

Other viewers highlighted how the diverse casting stepped away from the roles Indian actors typically portray.

Viewer Anita Popat told Metro.co.uk: ‘I like how they’re not stereotypical roles too (like doctor, corner shop owner etc) so it’s even more special.’

Fellow fan Ekta Gupta added: ‘It is great as this is not the stereotypical boy/girl or a taxi driver or shop-keeper South Asian character. It is a non-stereotypical role and a lead role, which is great.


Simone Ashley poses for photographers upon arrival at the World premiere of season 2 of the television series 'Bridgerton' in London Tuesday, March 22, 2022. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP)

‘It is a non-stereotypical role and a lead role, which is great’ (Picture: Invision)

‘So far I can handpick the typical roles given to South Asians. Even in books like Harry Potter – Indian students are after subjects like Divination which include palmistry, reading tea leaves etc. This is great to see something completely away from those stereotypes!’

Other fans took to Twitter to showcase their pride at the diverse casting and the show’s powerful capturing of ‘the beauty of Indian culture.’

‘The Indian nuances shown with the Sharmas warms my heart. From the classic Indian jewelry, rich fabrics, oiling of the hair, application of haldi to the brides skin, to just everything,’ one person said.

One of my favorite shots in s2 of #Bridgerton, so far, has to be when Anthony and Kate’s pinky fingers don’t touch. It can be seen as an allusion to a South Indian custom in weddings when a couple link pinky fingers and walk around the fire to become officially wed #bridgerton2 pic.twitter.com/1UU3JmVqwM

— karm is watching bridgerton rn ✨ (@karmeeleon) March 26, 2022

This is so emo south asian leads in Netflix most anticipated show and seeing “kangan” bangle & “haldi” for hindu pre wedding ceremonies or using famous bollywood track from “Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham”. Edwina calling Kate sis “didi” yeah!!!
#Bridgerton #BridgertonSpoilers pic.twitter.com/MJFJLVJR5X

— Nia ♡ (@belovedvillains) March 21, 2022

The Indian nuances shown with the Sharmas warms my heart. From the classic Indian jewelry, rich fabrics, oiling of the hair, application of haldi to the brides skin, to just everything. Hats off to @shondarhimes for capturing the beauty of Indian culture. #Bridgerton pic.twitter.com/hEQNfRpKiP

— Princess K OUT (@PrincessKOut) March 26, 2022

hearing my name so many times in the latest bridgerton. the protag’s name being K. Sharma, being fiercely loyal and protective of her family. i screamed to my roommate when i found out, i got so excited. indian representation has a long way to go, but i appreciated this one <3

— kuhu (@kuhusharma) March 26, 2022

Another viewer noted a moment when ‘Anthony and Kate’s pinky fingers don’t touch’, comparing it to a Hindu wedding ceremony in which the bride and groom would ‘link pinky fingers and walk around the fire to become officially wed’.


Simone Ashley and Jonathan Bailey in Bridgerton

Viewers have noted moments that nod to South Asian culture (Picture: Netflix)

Feeling proud to represent the South Asian population of Regency-era England, Charithra previously shared: ‘We have to remember that actually, in 1814, which is when the second season is set, there were 50,000 South Asians in the country, so we were here and of course we weren’t members of the ton, but we were in the country.

‘Obviously Bridgerton is in a fantasy world, and it’s just a carnival of joy and we don’t address England’s difficult past with India, but we are so intrinsically linked, the two countries.’

The actor said that she found it ‘really wonderful that you’re not only representing those 50,000 South Asians that were there in 1814, but you’re representing that link that these two countries have and you’re representing all the South Asians in the UK right now, making sure that they can feel seen, that they’re important in this country and Simone and I are so proud to do that’.


Charithra Chandran in Bridgerton

Charithra has spoken out about the pride (and pressure) of playing the role (Picture: Netflix)

Whilst she’s admitted the pride she feels in representing her roots, Charithra has also addressed the pressure that comes alongside it.

Speaking to Radio Times, the actress said she worried in her head that she would ‘ruin it’ for her ‘entire community’ if she was not perceived well in a performance.

‘If I’m being really honest and vulnerable, in my head I’m like, “Oh God, if people don’t like me in this or if I’ve done a bad job, I’ve ruined it for my entire community,”’ she said.

‘When you are a minority you invariably feel the weight of representing your entire community. That’s not imposed by anyone – but it’s something I feel.’

Bridgerton is available to watch on Netflix.



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