You’ve heard of the Ah Boys to Men 4 saga, haven’t you? It all started when a Singaporean actor, Shrey Bhargava, went to audition for a role in the movie.
It should have ended happily, except he left the audition feeling like crap.
Here’s what’s been happening since then, and it’s way better than Netflix. Trust me.
He was asked to “make it more Indian”.
When he attempted to clarify that Singaporean Indians do not speak with a thick Indian accent, she responded, “but that’s what we want. And make it funny”
He felt that the movie was stereotyping a minor race so as to create laughs for the majority race. He chose to comply with the request but left feeling disgusted and like “a foreigner in his own country”.
He wants people to realise that Singapore is not a Chinese country, but a “multiracial and multilingual one”.
Minority Actors Have a Hard Time Finding Casting Calls
In a second post on the saga, he decided to answer the question that was on everybody’s minds.
There were already three ABTM movies out, and to be fair, all of them played on stereotypes to get laughs.
So why did he still apply?
He clarified that in Singapore, there are not many minority roles where he can afford to pick and choose what comes his way. He went on to state that it is the responsibility of big productions like ABTM to “not perpetuate such stereotypes”.
Yes, it’s their responsibility.
He claimed that whether he should or shouldn’t have applied for the role is not the issue at hand, but how Singaporeans should ensure that “the entertainment you consumed is not at the expense of others”.
He mentioned that the problem was in the casting call which wanted to exaggerate the “Malayness/Indianness” of the character to fuel racially offensive humour that Singaporeans will enjoy.
This will also have the unintended side effect of stereotyping minority races to Singaporeans.
ABTM Actor Calling Him Out on His Actions, Inferred That He Has No Professionalism
Given how big the saga has gotten, you’d be sure that people will start getting in on the action.
So Maxi Lim, one of the actors in ABTM decided to give his two cents worth. He expressed disappointment at his actions and told him that the casting was for comedy.
He ended off with reminding Shrey not to accept the role if he was cast. And Shrey responded.
In his argument, he defended his position. He stated that he was under the impression that Maxi put in a good word for him with the casting team because he genuinely admires his work, and not because Shrey is a friend of his.
He also argued that the point wasn’t about him making an Indian accent, but the fact that the only minority role in the movie was to exaggerate racial traits and make it funny.
He added that while Chinese have their stereotypes in the movies, they have more roles and some of them are fleshed out and more ‘3D’, unlike minority roles which were almost always portrayed in a 2D manner.
And yet the movie is a Singaporean movie, not a Chinese movie.
Of course, he insisted that this is an underlying problem in our society and not explicitly the fault of ABTM production team, Jack Neo or the casting director.
XiaXue Jumped on Bandwagon, Called Him a Hypocrite For His Actions
In the entire saga, Xiaxue’s post was probably the one that dealt him the most damage.
She went to dig out his past performances and compiled it into a showreel. In the showreel, there was a part where he did a standup comedy routine which did exactly that–belittle other races and stereotyping them to get laughs.
Many of his supporters felt discouraged by what they perceive to be hypocrisy. So what did he do?
He stuck to his guns and defended himself nonetheless.
He insisted that people (those who attacked him, I think) mistook the issue at hand. It wasn’t about him having to put on accents that offended him.
He clarified that the sole minority role in a movie should not be defined by his accent and stereotype in order to make it funny.
He went on to say that as a young actor, he did not have the luxury of rejecting roles that required him to put on accents and stereotype other races.
He has, however, regretted it and will not be doing such things again.
Steps Must Be Taken to Stop Being Reductive to Minority Races
In his latest post on the saga, he insisted that this isn’t about putting on accents, nor is it about who is at fault. He said that people are taking his points out of context.
He claimed that he did not expect such a misunderstanding to take place and will relook at his original post to reevaluate his words.
There’s nobody at fault, he insisted.
Instead, it is blindness to the reductive behaviour towards minority races that everyone has that is the problem.
He made a call for “steps be taken for us (Singapore) to from now on be a more conscious society.”
Forget about becoming a defender in a soccer team, he can become the goalkeeper for the Red Lions.
Confirm win World Cup one, this.
And oh, you know who’s the winner for this saga? Ah Boys to Men 4. Now everyone knows the movie is coming soon.
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Interested in ABTM Saga? Check out other articles on the incident:
- S’porean’s Account of ABTM 4 Audition Gone Viral; Man Left the Room ‘Disgusted’
- Production Team of ABTM4 Has Responded to the ABTM4 Saga
- An ABTM Actor Has Spoken Out About the ABTM4 Saga & It’s a Full Smackdown
Feature Image: Facebook (Shrey Bhargava)
This article was first published on goodyfeed.com
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