Indian National Award winning actor Anupam Kher, who plays a judge gone rogue in ‘One Day: Justice Delivered’, releasing in the UAE this Thursday, slammed critics attacking Shahid Kapoor’s blockbuster ‘Kabir Singh’ for its overt glorification of toxic masculinity and misogyny.
“Such a moral brigade that passes judgement on everybody shouldn’t exist... It’s rubbish. Then by their standard, James Bond should never be made either. He’s the biggest misogynist,” said Kher in an interview with Gulf News tabloid!.
In the polarising romance that’s inching towards earning Rs2 billion at the box office, Kapoor played an abusive, self-destructive surgeon who loses it when his college romance goes bust. His vitriolic act evoked scathing reviews, but left no dent at the box office.
“Tell me, should journalists be writing only about stories with morals? Don’t they report on gruesome murders too? Cinema is not about the person, it’s not Shahid Kapoor, the person, committing those actions, in ‘Kabir Singh’,” said Kher.
The veteran actor believes that Kapoor, a father of two, is a stand-up gentleman in real life and is a thorough family man. Attacking him personally isn’t the way forward.
“An actor should do all kinds of roles … I was reading somewhere that if you think ‘Sacred Games’ [Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui’s dark Netflix series] is fine, then why are you not OK with this film? An actor should do all kinds of roles. To show good, you have to show evil. It’s the audience who has to decide… I was shocked to see some of the top television reviewers pass judgement on that film.”
He dreads a world where actors refuse to play villain roles in epics such as ‘Mahabharat’ or ‘Ramayana’.
As an actor, Kher loves to experiment with grey shades and revels in the grey zone. Directed by Ashok Nanda, ‘One Day: Justice Delivered’, co-starring Esha Gupta, offered him that chance to push his creative limits.
His latest thriller will see Kher play Justice Tyagi, a retired judge who turns vigilante on a mission to torture all those criminals whom he couldn’t prosecute due to lack of evidence during his legal career.
“I have always wondered when a judge knows in his heart that that he is about to pass a judgement on is a criminal because of lack of evidence. As an individual, that idea always intrigued me. So I was happy to do such a film,” he added.
Gupta, who studied in Kher’s acting school, will play a hardened cop who is on his trail. But isn’t the plot, around an old judge Tyagi turning into a scheming executioner, bizarre and unrealistic? A pensioner turning into a murderer doesn’t sound wholly plausible.
“We have been selling so many things that people don’t do in real life… We don’t run around trees and romance. We don’t sing on the streets of Switzerland. If we can make you believe that, then we can do this too,” said Kher, adding that Rohit Shetty’s action capers with cars exploding also calls for suspension of belief.
“In director Sooraj Bharjatya’s films, every person is beautifully wonderful. The beauty of Indian cinema is that we create a make-believe world … As Justice Tyagi, I am not playing Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. I did not want a huge difference between Tyagi the judge and Tyagi as a grandfather who takes his nephews for a picnic to a vengeful person … That was a thin line to toe. I love challenging myself as an actor nowadays.”
For Gupta, the prospect of playing a strong woman on the big screen fascinated her. Her last role was in the mindless comedy ‘Total Dhamaal’.
“In ‘One Day: Justice Delivered’, I play a police officer who has no place for criminals in her heart… She is like Cat Woman [but] without the mask. She is out there fighting crime. But she also know that every person has a shade of grey to them too. ‘One Day: Justice Delivered’ explores that space.”
Esha Gupta talks social media
Bollywood actress Esha Gupta, who plays a fierce cop in ‘One Day: Justice Delivered’, was caught in a racism row earlier this year when she mocked Nigerian footballer Alex Iwobi as a “gorilla” and “Neanderthal” in a WhatsApp chat with a friend.
The backlash and rebuke was swift as Gupta hastily apologised for her comments.
But when Gulf News tabloid! asked her if she has now become sensitive to what she posts on social media since, she responded: “Being insensitive means that you are stupid and that you didn’t know what I said. I am a sensitive person.
“In social media, what happens is that some wants to pull you down and misunderstand you. Ignoring them is the best thing that you can do. In our Gita [Hindu scripture], it says you should know your own self before anyone else. Eventually I am only answerable to God and myself. If in the inside I know I am doing right then I don’t need to. If you are guilty then you have to worry about what everyone else says or writes... But if you are true to yourself then you don’t have to overanalyse anything because you know the truth.”
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‘One Day: Justice Delivered’ is out in the UAE cinemas now.