Indian actors are making waves in the west, but are we too quick to judge their screen time?
Actors Adil Hussain, Shabana Azmi, Gulshan Grover, Tannishtha Chatterjee, among others, say we must celebrate the colour blind casting of Indian actors happening now in the west and not judge actors by the screen time they get in a trailer or a film.Updated: Sep 12, 2020 14:16 IST
There are several Indian actors working in the West and doing well at that, but what’s somewhat disturbing is that each time one sets out to star in an international project, there’s ruthless scrutiny on the character they play, and if not that, then the length of their role. And many don’t even wait for the film to release to judge the performance and start jumping the gun after the trailer itself.
One such recent example came to light when actor Richa Chadha called out a news portal for calling beau Ali Fazal’s appearance in Death In The Nile Trailer as ‘Blink and Miss’. Earlier this year, actor Randeep Hooda’s absence from Extraction trailer, too, raised many eyebrows.
Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, who started her journey with British drama Bricklane (2017), says this constant pulling down of Indian actors doing international work needs to stop.
“I was told why did I play a mother at a young age in Bricklane. How does that matter? A good role is a good role. It takes effort to get such parts. You can have an opinion but that needs to be justified,” she reasons, adding that it’s more with the advent of social media that “a section of our society enjoy demeaning others and it’s easier now.”
Echoing similar sentiments, veteran actor Shabana Azmi calls it unfair to judge a role from the trailer.
“The role has to be seen in context of the film. Sometimes it can be small, but integral to the subject. Why are we always quick to express opinion without knowing the facts? It’s wiser to wait for a final product before casting judgement,” says Azmi, who has done films, Madame Sousatzka (1988) and Immaculate Conception (1992).
Asian actors have now appeared on the radar of international cinema, opines Azmi. “After years of lobbying we’re finally seeing colour blind casting being visible on screen. In Halo, I play Margaret Parangosky Vice Admiral Navy but my nationality is neither underlined nor questioned. Neither I nor the Korean actors have been asked to put on an accent,” she adds.
And this is the not the first time such a discussion is happening. It happened with Amitabh Bachchan in The Great Gatsby (2012), Priyanka Chopra Jonas in Baywatch (2017), Deepika Padukone in xXx Return of Xander Cage (2017) and even Dimple Kapadia’s brief screen time in Tenet.
Actor Adil Hussain, who earned accolades for Life of Pi (2012), and will next be seen in Star Trek: Discovery 3, never lets such discussions discourage him.
“A film is to be loved as a whole. Each character is equally important in taking the story ahead. Discussions around screen time in trailer or film is unwise, ludicrous and vain. I’m prominently seen in Star Trek trailer. That doesn’t mean I have a pivotal role or I’m there in the whole series. We rather should be happy that Indian actors aren’t getting stereotyped in international films.”
Whether the role is big or small that a representation is happening is important, feels Pankaj Tripathi, who starred in Extraction.
“Rather than criticising, appreciate and respect the effort. The work that’s happening is because of mutual understanding and requirement. Apart from the talent available, Hollywood films have a huge Asian market, which they want to tap. And we, too, want to make our presence felt there,” he explains.
On a slightly different note, actor Gulshan Grover, who has done films, The Second Jungle Book: Mowgli & Baloo (1997) and Beeper (2002), points that, “Criticism often happens when sometimes actors create excessive hype even around a small part, while the final product reveals the reality. So, generating high expectations for publicity isn’t the right approach.”
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Author tweets @Shreya_MJ