DDLJ musical’s Austin Colby reacts to whitewashing charges: 'I'm not the Raj Shah Rukh Khan made us fall in love with'

Published on Aug 05, 2022 03:38 PM IST

Austin Colby, the British actor playing the character based on Shah Rukh Khan's Raj in DDLJ's musical adaptation, has responded to criticism and controversy around his casting.

Austin Colby will play Rog Mandel, a character based on Shah Rukh Khan's Raj in the musical adaptation of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.
Austin Colby will play Rog Mandel, a character based on Shah Rukh Khan's Raj in the musical adaptation of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is coming to Broadway as a musical. Helmed by Aditya Chopra himself, Come Fall in Love is a modern-day multicultural adaptation of the Bollywood classic. However, one particular casting choice hasn’t gone down too well with Indian fans. The male lead--famously played by Shah Rukh Khan in the 1995 film--is now white and will be played by British actor Austin Colby. This has led to many fans alleging it’s a form of whitewashing. Austin, himself has now reacted to these criticisms. Also read: This British actor is playing Raj in DDLJ's Broadway adaptation, SRK fans miffed

The film starred Shah Rukh Khan as Raj and Kajol as Simran, two names and characters made iconic by the film’s huge success. In the Broadway adaptation, Simran has been kept the same but Raj is now Rog, an American. The fact that an iconic Indian character played by one of the most popular Indian actors has been turned white has invited a lot of criticism from fans. Many on Twitter have even called it ‘a new form of colonialism’.

In a recent interaction with Variety, Austin said, “I’m aware what my involvement in this production means to many people and I completely understand its impact. I’m not the Raj that Shah Rukh Khan made us fall in love with, nor will I ever pretend to be. I am excited to fulfil the creative team’s vision for this role and I truly believe in the story and how we are telling it. I hope audiences will trust Adi [Chopra] and the team’s original vision for Come Fall In Love coming to Broadway and love this piece as much as we do.”

Austin had further invited criticism when his casting was announced and he shared it on Instagram writing that he had never heard of DDLJ ‘till a few weeks before’. This made fans angry at casting an actor who was unaware of the film’s cultural impact. Austin added that he has now seen the film. “After watching DDLJ, I was filled with joy, peering through a window into the rich world of Indian culture. It is overwhelming to fully process DDLJ’s impact on both Indian and global audiences, touching hearts and changing lives,” he said.

Interestingly, Aditya Chopra had initially conceptualised DDLJ with a white man in the lead. He had revealed in an interview years ago that he initially wanted to make Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge with Hollywood star Tom Cruise.

Come Fall in Love will have its world premiere at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. The musical begins performances from September 1 to October 16, 2022, with the official opening on September 14.

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