Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I cannot comprehend the outrage over Priyanka Chopra’s casting as Mary Kom in the forthcoming film based on the boxer’s life. On social media where everyone is a self-appointed film critic, Chopra doesn’t stand a chance as Mary Kom. Even before the film’s release, the Twitter Republic has decided Chopra doesn’t make the cut as Mary Kom because she doesn’t look Manipuri enough. Sure enough the makers could have cast a Manipuri actor but they didn’t. Frankly speaking, it’s their choice to cast whoever they want.
Make no mistake. Filmmaking is a business. Even if it’s a desh bhakti film or a film about a sporting icon, everyone wants to make money out of it. Concepts like “social responsibility” and “noble intentions” sound good but they are just concepts. Before he went off kilter, Ram Gopal Varma shared a priceless pearl of wisdom with me. “In filmmaking,” Ramu said, “success only means one thing: whether you get the money to make another film.” At the end of the day, producers make a film because they want to earn from it; directors make it because they are inspired to tell that story and earn from it; actors do it because they feel challenged to perform the part and get paid for it. So let’s not delude ourselves. It makes good business sense for producer Sanjay Leela Bhansali not to cast a Manipuri actor because Chopra can get him the wide audience pie that he’s aiming for. As to whether Chopra has done justice to Mary Kom, let’s at least wait for the film to release. And then we can outrage.
With social media becoming all invasive, we are on our way to being known as the generation that critiqued more than it created. We’ve started reviewing posters and trailers. What next? A twitter poll for which DoP should film Ranbir Kapoor’s next film? We want the filmmaker to make the film that is in our head rather than what he wants to make. If social media were around in 1982, Richard Attenborough would never have been able to cast Ben Kingsley as Gandhi. Very few would have supported the choice.