There is this fierce debate in the West that only gay actors should play gay characters in films. But if you see Josh O’Connor in the masterpiece God’s Own Country or the very heterosexual Armie Hammer in Call Me By Your Name, you will see that they are pitch-perfect. They convince you that no matter what the role, any actor can do it. As long as he can act.
After seeing the just-out trailer of Jabariya Jodi, I am not so convinced. In fact, let me go further. I am coerced into believing that actors must know the cultural physical and vernacular orientation that they assume on screen. Recently I heard Sunny Leone was playing a Bihari in a movie. That could be someone’s idea of a joke. I hope it is. No one in their right mind would even dream of doing this. It’s like making Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sing ‘Staying Alive’ .
I thought I had seen the worst miscasting ever in Bharat where Katrina Kaif played a civil servant in the 1940s and it made me think uncivil thoughts. But now here comes the male version of Katrina Kaif in Jabariya Jodi.
Siddhrath Malhotra, who defines urban cool, is cast as a Bihari groom kidnapper. Let me explain. In a section of North India, marriageable men were kidnapped at gunpoint and forced to marry girls whose parents couldn’t afford a dowry. This practice is now defunct in Bihar. But the exploitative hawk eyes of Bollywood fell on this (outdated) practice and we have Jabariya Jodi.
We have Malhotra in the trailer prancing around in colourful kurtas, speaking loudly in a ‘Bihari’ accent and yes, kidnapping grooms for a price. It’s all supposed to be uncontrollably funny. But actually looks as hoax as a staged performance of the Ramayana at the Paris Fashion week with actors in fancy dress oozing ersatz ethnicity.
After watching the trailer two thoughts crossed my mind. That Siddharth Malhotra’s ‘Bihari’ accent is better than Hrithik Roshan’s in Super 30. And that Bihar is actually not the place I grew up in. I have all these years been living in a parallel reality of ‘Bihar’
Watch the trailer of Jabariya Jodi here:
The makers of Jabariya Jodi know better. Welcome to Bihar . Please keep your safety belts on. Bumpy ride ahead.