Christopher Nolan’s Tenet: The Ethnic Representation & It Looks Promising

Christopher Nolan’s Tenet is anticipated highly by audiences. After leaving us enthralled with the first trailer, the second glimpse leaves us in more bemusement as well as impressive special effects.

Like every other Nolan film, nothing is ever what it seems. Similar to the concepts of his former works, this too seems convoluted, profound and even the makers have also maintained this ambiguity.

In YouTube’s description, the plot is captioned as: “Armed with only one word—Tenet—and fighting for the survival of the entire world.

The Protagonist journeys through a twilight world of international espionage on a mission that will unfold in something beyond real-time. Not time travel. Inversion.”

What also piques our attention, is the selection of some remarkable Ethnic actors including John David Washington, Dimple Kapadia, Denzil Smith (who doesn’t appear in the trailers) and Himesh Patel.

Whilst we have seen some African-American and Japanese actors (to name a few) in pivotal roles in previous movies (i.e. The Dark Knight and Inception, among others), this is the first time we are seeing African-American actor headline a Christopher Nolan movie.

Going by the trailer, it seems like Robert Pattinson will be the aide of Washington’s character, who also subtly provides some comic relief and be the one who follows the protagonist’s intellect.

Unlike previous years in Nolan’s cinema, this shows an actor like Washington, being the ‘hero’ of the film, rather than the secondary lead and an angle like this is fantastic to observe… As well as it is the need of the hour.

It is equally refreshing to see South-Asian actors like Patel, Kapadia and Smith join the cast. However, in the trailer, we see a very brief appearance of Dimple Kapadia, who is otherwise a legendary, multi-faceted actor in Bollywood.

According to media reports, it is being said that Kapadia’s role is ‘extremely important’ and exudes ‘shades of grey’. In conversation with an Indian daily, a source close to the development says:

“Dimple’s character is extremely important to the plot and while it’s not completely negative, it has shades of grey.

During the Mumbai schedule, she even shot for some intense sequences with John David Washington at an apartment in Breach Candy. The entire building was under tight security during the shoot to avoid trespassers.”

So since she is playing such an essential part in the film, it makes us question why her appearance is quite short, collectively in both the trailers.

Perhaps it’s by design to maintain the film’s enigma, given that even the award-winning Kennet Branagh too gets a brief appearance.

On a similar note, Himesh Patel delivered a breakthrough performance in Danny Boyle’s Yesterday which despite essaying a South-Asian character, was quite a race-neutral role.

The Aeronauts is another prime example of blind casting. Despite his ethnicity, we see him brilliantly play a traditional British character.

In this film, he once again seems to play a character which is not stereotypically Asian, though we only get a glimpse of his character and dialogue.

But whilst there are hardly any updates on his role, Patel’s screen time is very limited.

Having said that though, even though the South-Asian actors’ screen appearance is brief,  it is heartening to see them unite for a mainstream, commercial Hollywood venture like Tenet. 

There was a time when we would get excited just seeing one South-Asian or ethnic actor play significant roles.

Nowadays, seeing these actors uniting for a big-budgeted project like this is a testament that a bridge between American and world cinema is building, in a slow but steady manner.

It should definitely be celebrated such actors are pioneers in these collaborations. Whilst screen-time, specifically in trailers might not be as lengthy, it is certainly a leap towards progressive change.

Watch the 2nd trailer of Tenet here:

 

About Anuj Radia 980 Articles
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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