Arjun Kapoor speaks Bihari in the teaser of Half Girlfriend, and we are just not impressed. It is an example of what happens when filmmakers do not get their facts right.
Arjun Kapoor is set to play a Bihari boy in his updoming film Half Girlfriend. He had travelled all the way to the state and stayed in Bihar for over a week to “prepare” for his role of a local lad, Madhav Jha, who is weak at speaking English. Arjun said he learnt the typical mannerisms and diction of people there, to gear up for the part. But, when the film’s first 43-second teaser arrived on Wednesday, it left every Bihari, including me, disappointed… Disappointed because it only established the stereotypes we have been facing for decades, and even have to fight against, once we step out of our state.
“Ria ke saamne aate hi hum ekdum narbhasaa jaate hain……. Uu to hamari, kaa kahate hain, haaph girlphrend banna chahti hain. Par ik baat batao, ee haaph girlphriend hota kya hai…”
And all this while Arjun is reading Chetan Bhagat’s novel, IN HINDI!
Arjun, our hardcore Punjabi munda, is clearly struggling to get his Bihari act right. We don’t blame him. We blame the writers and eventually Chetan Bhagat, whose novel by the same name faced criticism for showing the people of this particular Indian state in a demeaning light. His Madhav Jha represented a state where people cannot speak English, are low on confidence, end up getting admissions in esteemed institutions not on merit, but on sports quota. Cut to reality, Biharis hold the highest positions in fields ranging from administration, bureaucracy to politics. They are the ones who capture all the top seats in colleges with their intelligence. They are confident and can even run an entire country. So which Biharis is Chetan Bhagat talking about? Or he is focussing only on stereotypes?
But, don’t we have men with similar characteristics from several other states as well? Then why only pick a random someone from Bihar when we have already been facing the word “chal bey Bihari” wherever we go? Literature and cinema holds the power to give a direction to a society. Such art forms have given way to the biggest events and brought about changes in the mindsets at major junctures of history. They why, in today’s time, do something that only takes us back in time?
If a book has already been held responsible for only glorifying cliches, why didn’t director Mohit Suri think about taking his “cinematic liberty” and making the suitable changes in the script? A shy guy from a humble background can fall in love with a rich girl. Why was there a need to forcefully insert the “Bihariness” into the already shoddy script?