Macquarie University
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Vellaikaariya? Constructing Amy Jackson: Nativity and whiteness in Tamil cinema

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posted on 2022-03-28, 18:11 authored by Meenaatchi Saverimuttu
Since Liverpool local Amy Jackson’s debut in 2010, where she played a young British woman in the Tamil period-drama Madrasapattinam, Jackson has played exclusively Tamil/Indian characters in all of her films. Despite her Caucasian background, Jackson is nativised for these roles, her skin spray-tanned, her hair dyed, and her blue eyes hidden behind dark-brown contact lenses. More baffling are the recurrent in-film references to Jackson’s Tamil characters as White. I will focus my analysis on a recurring reference to Jackson’s characters as “the white chick” in two of Jackson’s more recent Tamil films, Thangamagan (2015) and Gethu (2016). These films position two vastly different Amy Jacksons: the on-screen Indian and the off-screen westerner. This thesis attempts to understand how the fantasy of Jackson’s femininity is produced through the clash of these two racially divergent figures. An intersectional feminist approach to both Jackson’s gender and race is necessary in understanding her on-screen representation. A closer look at the history of the involvement of Dravidian (nativist) politics within the Tamil film industry further indicates the need to discuss the incongruous figure of Jackson. The self-aware characteristics of Tamil cinema, referred to as cinematic excess, interfere with a conventional close-textual analysis; and as such, I will approach Jackson as a parallel text. References to Jackson’s canonically Tamil characters as “the white chick,” transgress the borders of the film text and create new meaning in the reception of both the character and the actor who plays her. Taking Jackson as its case study, this thesis is a sliver of a starting point towards a more enriched film theory for non-Western films.


Table of Contents

Introduction -- Chapter 1 Politics, Nativism and Gender in Tamil Cinema -- Chapter 2 White Is The New Brown : How We Got To Amy Jackson -- Chapter 3 Let’s Mix It Up: Cinematic Excess, Masala and Approaching Jackson as a Parallel Text -- Chapter 4 Vellaikaariya?: Thangamagan and Gethu -- Conclusion


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 70-78

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Jane Simon


Copyright Meenaatchi Saverimuttu 2017 Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource ([6], 78 pages) colour illustrations

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