Actor Shrey Bhargava questioned by police over casual racism FB post, on being asked to be "more Indian" during audition

Singaporean Indian actor Shrey Bhargava caused a storm on social media with his viral Facebook post last week, in which he recounted his audition experience for local movie Ah Boys To Men 4 (ABTM4).  

He was subsequently questioned by the police, who said they had looked into the matter and “assessed that no criminal offence was disclosed.” The police will not be conducting further investigations with relations to the case.  

Here's the original Facebook post that caused an uproar: 

When asked by the casting director to speak in a heavy Indian accent to "sound more Indian," he called the casting crew out by telling them that "that's not how all Indians speak." The casting director had replied that yes, but "that's what we want." 

Bhargava went along to perform the accent anyway, but later took to social media to air his grievances. He had since removed and edited a small part of his post, in which he said he was probably asked if he was local because he did not look as dark as the majority of the other Indians in Singapore, who were mainly South Indians. 

While some netizens were on his side for calling out on "casual racism" in Singapore, others have slammed him for making a huge fuss of things. Notable reactions include that of celebrity blogger Xiaxue. 

She also compiled a video of Bhargava's past performances in which he micmicked accents, including Indian and Arabic ones.

He sure had a talent in this, though he claimed to have regretted putting on an Indian accent for the comedy performances in which he caricatured Indians, and that he was "young" then. 

What about his Arab journalist imitation in one of the scenes (which was from a Singapore TV series The Noose)? According to Bhargava in an interview with Bertha Henson, former editor of Singapore's Straits Times, he claimed that "he was trying to “satirise a stereotype’’– that Arabs cannot run away from the perception that they are terrorists, despite earnest attempts to do good." We are not sure what makes it okay for him to satirise a stereotype, but when Jack Neo tries to do so, it's racism. 

But even though it wasn't clear what was the race of whoever lodged the police report against Bhargava, some have attributed to the Chinese. Sangeetha Thanapal is an independent scholar who claimed to have coined the term "Chinese privilege."

But in conclusion, we found our favourite response to be from Singapore online personality Preetipls. Watch it for yourself here: 

 

Author
Kareyst Lin
Kareyst Lin – Senior Writer

Kareyst has experience in writing about B2B technology for Computerworld Singapore, MIS Asia and CIO Asia; and on government technology for GCIO Asia. Her pet areas are artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and smart cities - these are fueled by her obsession with sci-fi movies and philosophy of mind. She is also part of the Over The Moon team, which is a movement to promote and give voice to independent Mandopop music in Singapore.

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