It seems like open letters are the order of the day! While we respect the fact that everyone's entitled to their opinion and should voice them if they feel strongly about them, it has become quite a trend to write open letters to be heard. And this time, it's actor Neetu Chandra, who's written one to Alia Bhatt and Udta Punjab's director Abhishek Choubey regarding the portrayal of Biharis in Indian cinema.
The actor herself hails from Bihar and has always maintained that she's proud of where she comes from. In the letter, Neetu has strongly disapproved of the way Indian directors are strengthening the stereotypical image of people from Bihar. Though everyone's been raving about Alia's character in the film, who's an aspiring hockey player from Bihar, Neetu is more concerned about the image of the state and its people.
Here's the letter Neetu has written:
"It's disturbing to see the way Biharis have been portrayed in Hindi cinema over the last few years, the recent example being Alia Bhatt's character from Udta Punjab and from whatever one understands from the promo of the film, director Abhishek Chaubey is guilty of strengthening the stereotype of Biharis by creating Bhatt's character the way it is, in Udta Punjab.
Unfortunately, almost all the films made by Prakash Jha, who also hails from Bihar, have always stereotyped Biharis showing them corrupt politicians, cops and gangsters and in his movies, Bihar was always exaggerated to be the most dangerous place to visit as his films showed only either kidnapping and robbery and murders not realising that he himself along with leading Bollywood actors (part of his films) are maligning the name of Bihar whose history has been the most richest in the world.
The first educational university was set up in Rajgir, near Nalanda (Bihar) and several respected religions including Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism roots have developed in Bihar. Visionaries and scholars like Rajendra Prasad (first President of Republic of India), Ustad Bismillah Khan (Shehnai maestro), Bhikhari Thakur, Vatsyayana, Gonu Jha, Kunwar Singh, Maulana Mazhrul Haq, Seewosagar Ramgoolam, Aryabhatt who invented zero among several hundreds of stalwarts of the world belong to Bihar. So why none of the makers from Bihar and outside Bihar have ever made stories and films on these stories? Because they think that they will keep making fun of Biharis in their films and TV programs and no one will say anything against them. Stop stereotyping Bihar because you have seen Bihar through your ears not through your eyes."
We see that Neetu has a valid point, but the portrayal depends on how the character has been written, and the plot of the film. And we feel that Neetu should wait till the movie's out to take a more stronger stand.