Sim Sim Salabim

India has fakirs, rajahs, turbans, snake charmers (and other slightly demented street performers), the Ganges and Gandhi. It's also full of temples overgrown with humid jungle and occasionally home to an evil cult, elephants and tigers. Snakes are everywhere, so it's a good idea to have a cute and heroic mongoose with you to take them on.

Often, this trope goes hand-in-hand with a case of Mistaken Nationality and Interchangeable Asian Cultures, as India for some reason suddenly takes on Arab and Persian characteristics in some American films. In some older Hollywood movies, it's not uncommon to see Aladdin and Geniesnote  tossed together with Hindu deities. To be fair, this is Truth in Television to an extent as India has a large Muslim population (13.4%, according to The Other Wiki) and was ruled by Islamic kingdoms for century-spanning portions of its history,note  so it's certainly been more influenced by the Middle East than most Western countries have been. Also, the languages of northern India are mostly Indo-Aryan, making them distantly related to Persian and — even more distantly — to English (That's where the term "Indo-European" languages comes from of which Indo-Aryan is a subset just like Germanic).

Becoming a bit of a Discredited Trope these days, at least in Europe and North America, where a notable percentage of the population can and will call works set in India out on any inaccuracies.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Kushan in Berserk, with some "Arabian Nights" Days and The Empire thrown in.
  • While his country is unnamed, Shuraiya from Shugo Chara!, and his followers, are extemely stereotypically Indian.
  • Kaolla Su and her family in Love Hina feature some Indian stereotypes, although the manga establishes their homeland, the island kingdom of Molmol, as being in the South Pacific.
  • As it does with every other racial stereotype in the book, Mobile Fighter G Gundam plays this to maximum effect with Neo India's Cobra Gundam, piloted by a hypnotist/snake-charmer.
  • In Eyeshield 21 the World Cup arc has this in, of course, Team India. They all wear turbans, one of the players is a snake charmer, and their coach has a very thick beard.
  • Actually averted in Legend of Heavenly Sphere Shurato. While the Tenkuukai is modelled after the Hindu beliefs and myths, the series avoids using stereotypes linked to Indian people.

    Comic Books 
  • The Indian state of Gaipajama (with town names like Sethru and Jamjah) in the Tintin book Cigars of the Pharaoh.
  • Astérix visits this version of India in Asterix and the Flying Carpet.
  • Omar, one of the Escapist's friends and allies in The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist. Though he's from a fictional North African country and has an Arab name, he also has Indian facial features, vague magic powers, and a Sikh turban. This is totally intentional, given that the Escapist is a superhero with a fake history stretching back to the 1940s.
  • Lextropur in the Nick Knatterton adventure of The Indian Diamond Suitcase.

  • India as seen in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, although being set in one of the princely states (ruled by princes of India that co-operated with the British in exchange for pretty much free rein), the whole 'very backwards' thing is justified. A stereotypical Indian wise man even shows up in Egypt in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  • Jumanji's world inside the gameboard seemed to be a Flanderized mix of this and Darkest Africa.
  • The James Bond film Octopussy takes us to a very trope-laden India. Snake charmers, sword swallowers, fire breathers, fire walkers, beds of nails... the lot.
  • Ricky Gervais's character in Ghost Town seems to follow this mentality when asking fellow dentist Dr. Prashar for advice:
    Bertram Pincus: Dr. Prashar - you're from a... scary country, right?
    Dr. Prashar: I'm from India...
    Bertram Pincus: But, you're not... Christian, like us?
    Dr. Prashar: I'm a Hindu...
    Bertram Pincus: Yeah. So, um, how would you extract information from a hostile?
    Dr. Prashar: Well... as a... Hindu person... I would just... ask him... politely...
  • The country of the "Easterners" of Help!

  • Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Books and their various adaptations. Kipling's Jungle Book story "Rikki-Tikki Tavi" is the origin of the cute and heroic mongoose trope.
    • "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" in all likelihood is itself based on the Panchatantra "The Faithful Mongoose", as was a Sindibad tale (where a weasel was substituted for the mongoose). Kipling was pretty cognizant of Muslim and Hindu folktales since childhood.
    • Kim can't be left out; it may be the best example of this being a cross section of India during The Raj.
  • Cleverly subverted by Barbara Cleverly in The Last Kashmiri Rose (2001) - as there is no modern interest to display Colonial India as a Disneyfied place of superstitious natives ruled by brave colonial administrators and turbaned rifle-armed Martial Race troopers, she could freely display the vices of the system: idleness, drunkenness, exploitation of cheap labor (even poor Brits could afford Indian servants), incompetence...
  • India in the Belisarius Series.
  • The fictional Indian city of Hara in Robin Jarvis' Deptford Histories book Thomas, populated by Talking Animals. There are temples, a humid jungle, elephants, and anthropomorphic mongoose warriors battling against an evil snake cult.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Outsourced - Right outside the office you see the street has some sort of Middle Eastern looking drapes hanging in the middle of the road.
  • The Far Pavilions - the 1984 TV series and the 1978 novel on which it had been based - has them all: snakes as murder weapons, cruel and superstitious natives, sati, characters Raised by Natives, the might of The Raj putting things back in order and so on.
    • But India DID have these thing in that era - even books/history as documented by Indians will claim that. And the book makes sure to point out the stereotypes of India as well as deconstructing the fairytale-like aspect of India. The author also calls out the The British Empire on their stereotypes and their Mighty Whitey way of thinking time and time again. The beauty about the book is that it is honest in showing all sides of India - the mythical, the political and everything else. That's exactly what makes it a complex picture of race, social customs and identity.
  • Goodness Gracious Me, where the British-Asian cast subverted this trope with a recurring gag about a naive group of Indian and Pakistani students opting to spend their gap year seeking enlightenment in faraway backward Third World Britain. They encounter all the typical British tropes turned Up to Eleven, for instance a cockney Pearly King, and deal with them in the same language and manner that British people used to describe quaint things and people they met in India.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • The Great Khali. Tigers, sitars, Bollywood dancing, the Mowgli haircut - over the past seven years, his WWE iconography has had it all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer: The Kingdoms of Ind, in the far southeast of the Old World, are a fractious land of small kingdoms, deep jungles and many strange gods, a haven for spice traders and home to many elephants and to tribes of tiger-headed beastmen, in contrast to the goat- and sheep-headed varieties prevalent in the western lands. Worthy of note is the fact that the lands of Ind are the only human civilization, aside from the Chaos barbarians in the far north, to officially recognize and permit Tzeentch worship.


    Western Animation 
  • Jonny Quest: Named for the magic words used by Hadji in the original 1964-1965 series, who grew up in a version of this India (though the phrase is an old stock one like abracadabra, and originally derived from Scatting within a Danish children's song titled Højt på en gren en krage, "High on a Branch a Crow Sat"; the original phrase in the song is Sim salabim bumba saladu saladim). He could control snakes by playing his flute, had fakir style powers such as levitation, and incredible skill at hypnotizing others.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures also gave Hadji some quite sleazy hacker skills; though this was meant to subvert this stereotype, little did they know that hacker skills would make him even more of a stereotypical Indian, now that India is a big software development superpower in reality.
  • Somewhat averted in a Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? episode, in which Carmen is plotting to make her own dinosaur. Zack and Ivy land in a boat of Indian spices, discover Carmen stealing the Taj Hall, and have to deal with a merchant to get a Carmen clue. (The Taj Hall is the Indian version of Carnegie Hall, by the way. It's often confused with the Taj Mahal, but they have little in common.)
  • Played straight in Batman: Gotham Knight, complete with mongoose and cobra action. The plot of the short is that Bruce goes to India to get lessons from a fakir on managing pain.
  • Invoked in an episode of Family Guy, parodying "random selection" for "further screening" at airports:
    Stewie: "Jonny Quest"... okay, welcome aboard. "Doctor Benton Quest" ... alright, have a good flight. "Hadji" ... hmm, uh, listen, you've been randomly selected for additional screening.
    Hadji: But you didn't even type anything in!
    Stewie: Look, if it were up to me, you'd be right there on that flight, but ... uh, I'm going to need you to take off your shoes, and that lovely, uh, hat.
    Hadji: Sim sim salabim!
    Stewie: Yeah, I'd cut back on that.
  • Shows up in an old episode of The Simpsons, where Homer and Apu travel to India to visit the Kwik-E-Mart HQ.
    • And again in the later episode "Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore", where Mr Burns sends Homer to supervise a new nuclear power plant in India. While Homer has a very stereotypical image of the country, the Indian workers are revealed to be just playing along with it because he offers very advantageous working conditions - even better than the ones he had himself back in Springfield, in fact. Burns is not amused.

    Real Life 
  • Subverted in a comic strip story drawn by Sergio Aragonés about his trip to India. He took a flight and found that a large group of Hare Krishnas, an ostensibly Indian religion, were on the same trip, thankfully in a different section of the plane. As he saw the group disembark and chanting noisily as they marched, Sergio noticed that the native Indians were gawking and laughing their heads off at this ridiculous bunch of Westerners that had arrived.