Indian accents were often mocked on TV. 'Never Have I Ever' tried to get them right
"Never Have I Ever," Mindy Kalings and Lang Fischer’s comic book mix of immigrant and coming-of-age stories that hit Netflix in late April thanks to the breakout star and gripping story of an Indian-American teen, Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) who controls the expectations of two cultures in the San Fernando Valley.
In a recent remote video interview with the cast, Times TV critic and presenter Lorraine Ali, Ramakrishnan's co-stars Poorna Jagannathan and Richa Moorjani asked about the challenges these expectations pose to the actors - including adopting Indian accents for their roles. As Moorjani said, it required a dialect coach, advice from people with roots in southern India, and "hours and hours of YouTube videos":
I just had an interview yesterday and the first thing she said to me when I got there was, "Oh, you have no accent!" I think that's a good thing because it means that my accent was believable. That was the biggest challenge for me in this particular role, because it is the first time that I have had to put that accent on television ... There are so many different Indian accents, and we really haven't seen that on American television. We have only seen one type of accent in the past, and most of the time it is played by people who are not even South Asian. There is a lot of sensitivity to the subject and there is a lot of control because it has been a bit negative for so long.
Watch the full conversation in the video above to learn how Ramakrishnan got the part, why Jagannathan thought this mother figure was different, and more.
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