Filmmaker Omung Kumar, who directed sports biopic 'Mary Kom', recently defended the casting of actress Priyanka Chopra in the title role amid criticism.
The film was in the news recently for not representing northeastern faces in lead roles. The casting of the film had also invited backlash during its release.
In an interview with ETimes, Omung Kumar cited historical examples and claimed that, in the film, he has 'promoted Manipur the way no one else has'.
He said that an actor can mould themselves into any character and that’s what Priyanka Chopra did beautifully. He added that it was one of the reasons why the film was so effective.
The filmmaker also asserted that most of his other characters in the film were played by Manipuri actors.
Omung Kumar said that they did look at a lot of Northeastern actors for the parts played by Priyanka and Darshan Kumaar too but no one suited the role. He said that people thought Darshan, who hails from Haryana, was from Manipur, adding that if the actors suit the part, they can play any role.
He gave an example of megastar Amitabh Bachchan who played the role of Anthony Gonsalves in 'Amar Akbar Anthony' without being Christian.
The filmmaker also stated that if there is a South Indian character in the film, there’s no hard and fast rule that the makers have to cast a South Indian actor only for the role.
In June 2021, actress Lin Laishram, who essayed the role of Bem-Bem in 'Mary Kom', had told Free Press Journal that the North-Easterners barely had anything to relate when it came to Bollywood, with the rare ones badly done by wearing bizarre tribal costumes and talking gibberish.
Lin had said, "I admire Priyanka for her hard work, she really put in a lot of hours in order to look like Mary Kom but I always felt that casting is an important step in film. I believe in authenticity and inclusivity, so a girl from Manipur or the North East could have been surely cast to represent us."
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