Most of Bollywood has taken a strong stand against the racist attacks on Indian students in Australia. Following yet another attack on a 23-year-old Indian student in Melbourne, many actors and producers have decided not to shoot or perform in the country.
Actress Celina Jaitley, who had a performance slated for July in the country, has called it off. “I’m from an army background and am extremely patriotic,” says Celina. “I can’t stand this at all. I would appeal to everyone to do whatever they can to boycott the country till the government takes action.”
Films like Dil Chahta Hai, Salaam Namaste, Bachna Ae Haseeno, Singh is Kinng and Heyy Baby have been shot in Australia. Siddharth Anand, who directed Salaam Namaste and Bachna Ae Haseeno, says, “Personally, I have not come across anything remotely racial while shooting my two films there. But I will not shoot there unless the [Australian] government does something about it.” Producer Sudhir Mishra agrees that he will “absolutely not shoot in the country” till the problem is solved.
Some others, though, don’t see this as a viable option. Although Western India Cine Employees Association has sent request letters to all producers, asking them not to shoot any of their films in Australia, many feel that boycotting the country is not the solution. Mahesh Bhatt says, “Shooting or not shooting there is a secondary issue. The point is that if the moderates in Australia fail to act against these racists, history will record this as a great tragedy.” Producer Madhu Mantena feels, “I don’t think we should judge a country by a few stray individuals.”