Here’s one man who has the guts to stand against an industry that is consideredof utmost importance in India. Canadian comedian Russell Peters, who is of Anglo-Indian origin and has been an international stand-up comedian for 23 years, says he is not in love with Hindi films and that Bollywood is “useless”.
The comedian, who has worked in Akshay Kumar’s Indo-Canadian venture Breakaway, was recently in India for a short visit to promote Speedy Singhs — the Hindi version of the film. During his press conferences Peters was funnier than Bollywood fans could handle.
“I hate Bollywood. The films are all garbage, just terrible. It’s my opinion — obviously there are billions who love them. I have never seen a Bollywood film in my life. I have refused to do them earlier and will do so in future,” Peters claimed at a press conference.
As per few media reports, Peters allegedly also cracked some jokes about Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan’s mediocre acting skills and even joked about her pregnancy. According to sources, he however retracted his statements on Bachchan later. Whatever the case be, Peters is nonchalant about the angst he seems to have evoked amongst Bollywood fans.
Standing by his opinion, Peters tweeted, “There is no reason for me to like everything you like, my opinions are just that — my opinions. There are plenty of things I love that you won’t! The fact that my words have upset some of you so much only makes me victorious!”
The political wings of India also condemned Russell’s alleged statements on Bachchan’s pregnancy. Shalini Thackeray, cine-worker’s union president of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) commented, “Bollywood is a vast industry, which churns out more films than anyone else in the world and Peters has no right to talk ugly or disgrace our industry or its actors. His comment on Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan is indeed in a bad taste, but I think his irrelevant comment should not deter or affect an actor of her calibre.”
A leader from Shiv Sena, on the condition of anonymity, said, “Who is this Russell Peters and why should we entertain him? I think he should be banned in the country if he doesn’t respect our traditions and films.”
Meanwhile, Sundari Thakur, the President of Nari Samman Sanghathan, a Mumbai-based NGO retorted, “He should mind his language and remain in his limits, as she (Bachchan) is a woman first and actor later. I think he (Peters) has lost his values and respect for women.”
In Peters’ defense, amidst his derogatory comments he did talk about the positive impact of Hollywood and Bollywood collaboration and expressed the hope to see more projects like Breakaway. “Collaborations between India and the West are going to be fruitful. The love affair of Bollywood and Hollywood ought to grow and I think Speedy Singhs is a good move from both the sides.”
Peters kick-started his career in acting with “Show Me The Funny” in 1997 and has since starred in films like Lord Have Mercy and Comedy Now among others. Breakaway is his first film with an Indian production team and an Indian star cast; featuring Anupam Kher, Vinay Virmani, Gurpreet Ghuggi and Hollywood actor Camilla Belle. He is now looking forward to a star on the Walk of Fame which will be inducted October 1 in Toronto.
Till a few days back, the 40-year-old comedian felt Non-resident Indians (NRIs) should get a taste of modern India and reconnect with the fast developing Indian culture. Maybe now, after the Bollywood ramba his comments created, he will recheck his notes on fusion and harmony.
(With additional information from TOI and IANS)
Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2011.
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