Pics of Hari Kondabolu for Interview Mag. Lil snippet of he and Riz Ahmed's conversation below.
AHMED: In terms of your documentary, is the dream to get to a point where there’re so many different portrayals of people of color, and they’re so frequently depicted as being as intelligent or as heroic and on equal footing with white characters that you can, quite happily, have an Apu character? And Apu stops being an archetypal, “Hey, isn’t this what all South-Asians are like?” and starts just being like, “Oh, yeah, this is just a funny dude who works at the store.” Is that a dream?
KONDABOLU: I think it’s even more specific than that. You don’t have immigrant characters with a great deal of depth, generally, especially if they’re South-Asian. I don’t see many characters where you get a sense of the immigrant experience: where you get an experience of hardship, and an experience of humor. One that’s derived not from mockery, but actual [precedent]. You don’t see that with immigrant character portrayals, and it’s not only South-Asians. When they made that character, Apu, it’s not about us; it’s about our families, man. About that generation. So to me, it’s about having a fuller voice. When I made this film, it wasn’t even about Apu. That’s the trigger: that’s the thing that many of us had growing up that would be the immediate example, and it’s The Simpsons, so everybody understands that; it’s under everyone’s nose. But to me, this is part of a larger legacy of minstrelsy, and I think it connects to the idea of like, “Why is it wrong to wear this Kim Jong-Il character?” Well, why is it wrong for a white guy to do a funny voice? It’s not our story! You’re representing our faces, our features, our stories, our voices, our families, and you’re doing it wrong! That’s what it’s about.