The Problem with Apu – Purpose and Techniques

“The Problem with Apu” is a documentary by Indian comedian/filmmaker Hari Kondabolu published in 2017. This documentary focuses on social issues such as racism towards Indians in American popular culture and media. Kondabolu’s major purpose of this documentary is to expose the prominence of this issue and convince the audience that “Apu” is “bad”, and he does this through a variety of film techniques such as animation, editing, humour and more.

Kondabolu’s frequent use of animation is used to thoroughly emphasize a point. A good example is 48:21, where Kondabolu declares that although you love your racist grandpa, it is time for him to die and shows Simpson’s grandpa turned into a coffin. The obvious death symbolism of the coffin strengthens the creator’s statement as it shows he’s declaration both verbally and visually. He’s frequent animation enhances statements, but also lightens the tone and engages the audience. Bright colours, vibrant shapes and symbols are good ways to keep the viewer’s attention.

The creator “The problem with Apu” uses several editing techniques such as background music/sound effects, transitions, setting changes, camera angles to add emphasis to his arguments or transition between points. At 48:33, when Kondabolu fights the people responsible for Apu, the background is changed, intense music is played and he is shown heroically fighting those white men. This use of editing mostly engages the audience. At the same time, expresses the “frustration” Kondabolu has with those white men who propagated racism by inventing Apu.

Kondabolu constantly uses “humour” to spice up his documentary. At 48:28, Kondabolu says that the Simpson’s were only funny during season 1-10. He’s many “funny jokes” throughout the commentary engages the audience, lightening the mood so that people don’t think the documentary is too “preachy” or serious. He’s “humour” allows his points to be more memorable and enjoyable.