Alia Bhatt’s Stereotyping in Udta Punjab Has Angered a Bihari Fan
Alia Bhatt in a still from <i>Udta Punjab</i>. (Courtesy: YouTube <a href="">screengrab</a>)
Alia Bhatt in a still from Udta Punjab. (Courtesy: YouTube screengrab)

Alia Bhatt’s Stereotyping in Udta Punjab Has Angered a Bihari Fan

In an open letter to Alia Bhatt published on Asianet Newsable, by an angry Shefali S Jha takes the actress to task for stereotyping Biharis in the upcoming Udta Punjab. Jha was of the opinion that she was trying “too hard to pass off as a Bihari.”

Calling her character a mere concoction of stereotypes, Jha is harsh in her criticism, saying that she has surpassed Chetan Bhagat’s ability to stereotype.

So, here goes. Firstly, your treatment of the character is nothing but a concoction of stereotypes. (Trust me, this kind of stereotyping is far ahead of what even Chetan Bhagat is capable of.) Secondly, ‘Bihari’ is not a language. People in Bihar converse in Maithili, Bhojpuri, Maghai or Angika. They don’t speak in ‘Bihari’; people who originate here are referred to as Biharis, and not their language.
You actually underwent a month-long coaching to get the dialect right, and still ended up calling the language ‘Bihari’? Not good. And, by the way, ‘Ee’, ‘Ka’, ‘Kon’, ‘Chutiy***’ is not the ‘Bihari’ language either. It’s just lazy stereotyping, something Bollywood has always excelled at.
Thirdly - and this makes me weep - the costumes and props that you claim helped you ‘nail’ the Bihari look are nothing but soiled, tattered clothes, grimy skin and messed up hair. These are not the preserve of just the state of Bihar, only the grave manifestations of poverty the world over. Is this what you think, Alia? Do you really think all Biharis are poor and look like this? Shame.

Granted, perhaps not all of the criticism ought to be directed at Bhatt. Some of it ought to be reserved for the director, who is responsible for the direction of Bhatt’s character.

Are you listening, Abhishek Chaubey?

You can read read the complete letter on Asianet Newsable.

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