Emraan Hashmi refuses to label Australia a ‘racist’ country even though last Wednesday, four biker boys, armed with baseball bats, allegedly beat up a 21 year old in Victoria, after he admitted to being an Indian. The actor insists that doing so would make one a ‘racist’ too since such incidents happen everywhere.
However, he affirms that Mohit Suri, his cousin and the director of his soon-to-release film Crook — It’s Good To Be Bad, along with some crewmembers, were barred from entering a pub in Melbourne. Suri confirms the news: "We weren’t shooting the next day. So we decided to have a fun night and arrived at this pub only to be told that it was packed. But then a local, a white guy, was allowed in. What was really shocking was that the bouncer was Indian."
Hashmi insists that it’s not just a "white" fixation, several Indian migrants Down Under are wary of going on record because they are well adjusted there and don’t want to get into trouble. "We’ve shot a documentary that includes interviews with some Indians," he says. "It may air on our news channels and will give you an idea of what it is to be an Indian in Australia."
Often, filmmaker Suri was mistaken for a Punjabi. "Every taxi driver in Melbourne is from Punjab, unfortunately, I don’t speak much Punjabi," he says. "A young student, Surinder Singh, was beaten up because his name was Singh and he was playing the song ‘Singh is kinng…’ in his car."
The number of students going to Australia has almost halved in the last year. Suri insists that many of these small town boys don’t go to pursue higher studies but in search of a better life. “I got admission to an American college too and had planned to settle in the US, but didn’t have enough money to finance my education,” he admits. “Some of these boys, like the bouncer, blend in with the locals, others fight for the rights and need our government’s support.”
The Crook unit, despite having work visas and permits from the Australian Film Commission, were suddenly informed by the Melbourne City Council that they couldn’t shoot. Recalls Hashmi: “It happened in the last leg.
We just had four days of work left. Our line-producer, first assistant director and other local crew were baffled since we had not planned to block traffic.”
Suri adds that they were forced to return to Mumbai, put up a set and wrap up the film here, resulting in huge losses. He reasons, “I guess they were afraid we were projecting Australia in a negative light. But we’re just giving you the big picture. And that includes an ad I saw outside a store offering accommodation to Indian students… But only Gujarati boys.”