Considered an element of brownface, “brown-voice” is the offensive practice of a non-South Asian person performing an accent in an attempt to imitate a person of South Asian descent. This accent is often associated with an Indian accent, though it can often be considered what South Asian actors know as “patanking”. Coined by Indian-American actress Sakina Jaffrey, “patanking” is a highly exaggerated, generalized mimicry of a South Asian accent that attempts to appropriate many different dialects and languages into one accent. For more, see Dave, Kondabolu, Amin, and Rosen.

Sources and Further Reading:

Amin, Shaan. “Making Fun of How South Asians Talk: A History.” The Atlantic, 2 Feb. 2018,

Dave, Shilpa S. Indian Accents: Brown Voice and Racial Performance in American Television and Film, University of Illinois Press, 2013. ProQuest Ebook Central,

Kondabolu, Hari. The Problem With Apu. truTV, 2017. CBC Gem,

Kuruvilla, Carol. “Apu, a Racist Caricature of South Asians, Faces Reckoning in New Documentary.” Huffpost, 14 Nov. 2017,

Rosen, Christopher. “Hank Azaria Will Officially No Longer Voice Apu on The Simpsons.” Vanity Fair, 25 Feb. 2020,