This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Chirag Aidasani. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

10 Frustrating Stereotypes About South Indians That Bollywood Promotes

More from Chirag Aidasani

By Chirag Aidasani:

“Achcha aap Madrasi hai? (Oh, are you a Madrasi?)” 

This is the reaction any Indian who happens to belong from any of the four southern states receives in any other part of the country, during introductions. And as a person with half his genes belonging to South India, this is something that greatly annoys me.

It has been a good 56 years since the States Reorganization Act which resulted in the states of India being organized on linguistic lines. This resulted in all of the mainstream South Indian diasporas, i.e., Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam having their own states. But sadly, even after the passage of these many years, the label of ‘Madrasi’ has not eluded us.

What is so offensive on being called Madrasi’, one might ask. Well, the word itself isn’t offensive but what people correspond to this word is offensive and reeks of ignorance and stereotypes. It may have started as an ethnic slur to denote people from the erstwhile Madras presidency. But over the years, people have formed a definite image of South Indians which is ridiculously aggravating, to say the least.

Bollywood has a big part in exaggerating the stereotypes against South Indians. In tinsel-town, these are some common conceptions about The South Indian person.

1. The South Indian is always a Tamilian and that too a Brahmin.

2. The South Indian man always wears a lungi with a white horizontal tilak on the forehead. South Indian women only wear heavy Kanjivaram sarees with a gajra (flowers) on their head and of course, the white tilak is omnipresent on their forehead too.

3. The South Indian always speaks English and Hindi in a highly distinctive accent.

4. The South Indian is always vegetarian.

5. The South Indian is always intelligent and nerdy.

6. The South Indian utters words like ‘Amma’, ‘Appa’, ‘Ayyo’, ‘Murugana’, etc. at least once in a sentence.

7. The South Indian is an excellent Bharatanatyam dancer.

8. The South Indian only eats dosa, idli, vada, sambar and, as a holiday treat, rasam and rice.

9. The South Indian always has names along the lines of Subramanium, Venkateswara, Krishna Swamy, Iyer, Nagarjuna, Srinivasan, etc.

10. The South Indian always has a photo of Rajnikanth along with other deities in the in-house temple.

These are the general guidelines followed by Bollywood to portray South Indians and then people have the audacity to ask why we get annoyed by watching all this.

The first films, at least in my recent memory, that broke the Madrasi stereotype were “Chak De India” and “Housefull”. I was fortunate enough to watch Chak De India” in Hyderabad, one of my home cities. And during the introduction of the hockey players, there came the dialogue of Nethra Reddy, a Telugu woman in the film, played by actor Sandia Furtado. The dialogue which was in response to the interviewer’s question as to what is the difference between Tamil and Telugu, was, “Utna hi, jitna ek Punjabi aur ek Bihari main hota hai. (Same as the difference between people from Punjab and Bihar.)”  Watch from 1 minute in the video below.

This dialogue in other parts of the country must have been met with a mild smile or indifference from the audience but in Hyderabad, this dialogue received thunderous applause from the crowd which lasted for up to a minute even after the dialogue ended. We were acknowledged by Bollywood truly for the first time! This really elevated the status of SRK in my eyes.

Then the same SRK did a film like “Ra.One” with the same Madrasi stereotypes. He even went to the extent of eating noodles with curd and that too with his hands! (I mean SRK, really?)

And the film “Housefull” too was appreciated by me, not because of its humour which was rather ludicrous, but because it portrayed South Indians played in the film by Deepika Padukone and Arjun Rampal without any stereotypes.

The point is, we are tired of the Madrasi stereotype and it’s about time that our fellow Indians know that South Indian is just a generic term and all of us are not the same, just as all North Indians are not the same. We each have our own different languages and traditions no matter how similar they may seem and no we do not understand each other’s languages. Tamil sounds as alien to me just as Punjabi would. So I would request India to not label me, I am a South Indian, but I am not a Madrasi.

You must be to comment.
  1. Radhika

    well written one, indeed! I’m a South Indian too but not a Madrasi! 🙂

    1. Chirag Aidasani

      Thankyou 🙂

  2. Raj

    Some Northie needs to write a similar article too

    1. Chirag Aidasani

      Please go ahead and write 🙂

  3. Divya

    Thats a perfect article….. Yes i completely agree with what you have said above. Tamil is not the only state that represents south….. no offence for that state but i feel there are other states too and other language speaking people who are worth enough to be noted. Thanks for the article chirag.

  4. Jyoti


  5. Jackson Aniyan

    typical question to every south Indian……

  6. Jack Asir

    Why should we have to be recognised by them? the same stereotypes can be witnessed if north Indians visits Chennai! they can’t be recognised here either!!! we are culturally diverse by Aryan-Dravidian fact!!…… Seriously, I can’t differentiate uthar pradesh and madya pradesh guys

  7. Navneel Maji

    Thank You.

More from Chirag Aidasani

Similar Posts

By aashirya anand

By Bollywood Jhol

By aashirya anand

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below