Swara Bhaskar, who recently wowed audiences with her performance in Nil Battey Sannata, wrote an open letter to Pahlaj Nihalani describing how he affects her work as an actor through his actions as CBFC Chairperson. The letter is scathing, sarcastic, and hard-hitting – and the actress brings up several valid points throughout her piece.
Here are some excerpts:
On her personal experience…
The following has happened during each of the last three films that I’ve dubbed. Sometime after I think that I’ve completed dubbing, I get a call from the team and am asked to come and re-dub certain portions of the film because, you and/or your review committee has said that the words like ‘sala’, ‘saali’, ‘haraamzada’, ‘rakhail’ and ‘bloody’ (!) will have to be removed if the makers wanted a U/A certificate.
On Sooraj Barjatya…
I can tell you that poor Sooraj Barjatya, ‘U’ certified scion of the Rajshri school of family dramas must have been quite puzzled when you and your team directed him to drop the word ‘rakhail’ from his saga of sibling love and rivalry Prem Ratan Dhan Paayo. That he, gentlest of souls, most polite, modest, gracious of gentlemen found the word acceptable in a hardcore family film and you found it objectionable is a true testimony to your righteousness! You must be a man with an angelic sense of propriety, the rate at which you are going you may sprout wings soon sir, a veritable Udtaa Pahlaj!
On her process as an actor…
Any serious actor will tell you that everything we say and do is for a reason, with a motivation, in an effort to convey something. Nothing is meaningless. So when I say ‘habdan saali’, ‘bhak saalaa’ or ‘bloody’ or even ‘haraamzaada’, I am either being authentic to my character’s linguistic context or state of mind. I cannot overstate the point but I try really hard to add some memorable flavour and authenticity to my roles and you and your team have often hosed all my sincere acting efforts with Ganga jal! And this is both a complaint and a fear. The next time I play a character who belongs to a certain class context that requires a certain kind of crude speech and I work hard and deliver that performance, some sanitation loving do-gooder from your team will come along and have me re-dub my so-called offensive part and that will be the end of the authenticity of my acting. How will I ever get a National Award, sir?
It’s long, but very much worth a read – she’s articulate, and she brings up several important points.