I recently read an article about Priyanka Chopra saying that some north easterner should have played Marry Kom instead of her in the movie. Some people said it is very brave of her to have acknowledged it publicly. Even when the movie was released, people had raised questions about the casting of the movie. They felt the casting reeked of racism. Notwithstanding that, the film was a huge success.
What troubles me?
What I don’t understand is why people talk good but don’t do good when they have an opportunity. Is it not convenient to say somebody else should have done it instead of not doing it and paving way for someone else? However, is this clinging on to convenience wrong? The question is, why would anyone on earth let go of a great opportunity. Are we born to always make sacrifices and pave way for the less privileged? Even if we do that (make sacrifices), who determines if the opportunity has gone to the deserving. Had the role gone to a north easterner, what was the guarantee that she too wouldn’t have been privileged in her own circle. Are we trying to suggest that regional cinema (regardless of the state) is a perfect merit-driven-talent-recognizing industry? Also, was Priyanka Chopra (at the time of that movie) successful enough to let go of a great script. Wouldn’t she have betrayed herself by doing so had she made the sacrifice. The choice with us is always simple, whoever gets the fish, eats it. And it is perfectly fine if they eat a lot and a lot. They can later say that they should have shown a bigger heart, but at the time of actual doing, not sacrificing is perfectly fine. And why is her acknowledgment being praised? Why some people jump on this pseudo concept of forced diversity and inclusion when in the actuality every human being is hungry for success.
The concept of movies is simple. Actors are cast on their ability to make a film successful. Not to serve any other purpose. The director of the movie felt that Priyanka Chopra was the right choice, so he bet his money on her. He wanted to earn money, so he hired a star. Had he hired someone else, he would have made less money, or the movie would have flopped. He went after success and it is absolutely fair.
Is there anything wrong with Priyanka acknowledging it?
There is nothing wrong, it just seems to suggest that our actions and words don’t align. And it is perfectly fine if they don’t. Priyanka Chopra has become who she has become by utilizing and grabbing every opportunity on her way. She didn’t just settle for Bollywood, she went and achieved success in Hollywood. She has the hunger for success, and she shouldn’t lose that hunger and start making sacrifices because it is what is expected of her (or from every successful person). There is this underlying expectation that successful people should sacrifice so that others can benefit. This notion has been glorified and is the cornerstone of all such debates. Did Priyanka Chopra rely on someone else to give her all the success on a platter. Priyanka made her own way. In a Bollywood that was fascinated with white skin, she made her way and conquered it. Despite all the odds she made it.
So, is the system always fair?
Off course not. The system is tilted. Few people make more money. Few industries make more money. Few countries make more money. It is never perfect. Successful people can indeed change the system through their acts. However, let’s not determine what, when, and how they should do it. It’s only you who should determine when you should become a giver and in what way. Let’s not put a moral baggage of sacrifice on successful people or a moral baggage of accepting things in hindsight. Also, why the onus of bringing change is always on stars. Audience can choose not to watch movies if they find them unfair, but apparently their collective conscience remains unaffected.
Should Priyanka Chopra not give back to Bollywood?
She should if she wants. But let’s not judge her only on the grounds of what she gives back. Let her run after more success. Let her grab more opportunities. Let her be selfish. Let her earn more and more and more money. Her becoming successful (however she defines success) is also bringing glory and global acceptance to Bollywood. Isn’t she becoming successful a reform in itself? Has her success not already fueled change in Bollywood, and dare I say Hollywood? And with regards to reforms and changes that we need in Bollywood, it’s a collective effort and the audience should be the driver above anyone else. Once we (the audience) start making sacrifices, things will fall in place.
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