Over the last twenty years, attitudes in Britain towards Asian cultures have definitely shifted, as has the taste of mainstream audiences for Asian-themed films such as East is East (1999) and Bend It Like Beckham (2002). That means more and more Asian faces are appearing in film and television which is very inspiring! And the themes we play are also shifting, with Bend It Like Beckham becoming one of the most popular British films ever and was a far cry from the colonially-obsessed images of Asians depicted in mainstream British cinema and television in the 1980s and earlier.

The British film industry has gradually begun to wake up to the ‘brown pound’! And Meera Syal was caught using this very same phrase in an article in the Guardian when she was talking about her campaign, Act for Change. It’s wonderful to have role models like her voicing this in a positive way.

Another agent for more ethnic faces on television is Lenny Henry. Lenny Henry argues that black and ethnic minority people should be treated by the British TV sector in a similar way to regional minorities such as the Scots and Welsh and given ring-fenced funding for specialist programming. He certainly has a point. The British population is very multi-cultural and cosmopolitan and that needs to be reflected in our television and film too.

Revisiting the past is a recurrent theme in British-Asian drama: Udayan Prasad’s Brothers in Trouble, Meera Syal’s Anita and Me, and the television series of Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia are prime examples. Meera Syal says: “When I wrote Anita and Me, it came from a feeling of wanting to testify. I grew up in a working-class town far from London where I felt like an outsider, and I wanted in that screenplay to record the lives and stories of people I had known.” And this does make sense considering our parents were immigrants and therefore had a very unique experience of moving to the West.

But I also feel that it’s time to reflect the lives and attitudes of the first generation British Asians who technically are not immigrants, because they have been born and raised here. Their experience is a very different one, and as one myself, I want to integrate and enjoy the resources this country has to offer just the way an English man or woman would.

When I was talking to Meera Syal on Zee Companion, she said something that caused a paradigm shift within me. I had asked her what her secret to success is, and one of the things she highlighted was her Asian roots. She emphasised the fact that her parents were “invited” to come to the UK and therefore she had just as much right to be here as anyone else. So why wouldn’t she engage and integrate the way she has? I believe that applies to all of us!

Today is the best time ever to be of Asian origin in the West. ‘Asian’, once unfashionable, has become fashionable and almost ‘sexy’ in the Western media culture, including Hollywood. In the USA, 1960s Swamis have been re-incarnated in the form of the ‘life guru’ Deepak Chopra. Madonna wears saris and mehndi, and calls to the youth accompanied by Hindi violins. Meanwhile, British-Asian musicians Nitin Sawhney and Talvin Singh are now established in the British music charts. The sky really is the limit!