Police close case on actor who alleged racism

The saga began after Mr Shrey Bhargava wrote on Facebook last Saturday that he felt insulted after he was asked to do a caricature Indian, to portray "a full-blown Indian man" with a thick accent and to "make it funny" during an audition for a Jack N
The saga began after Mr Shrey Bhargava wrote on Facebook last Saturday that he felt insulted after he was asked to do a caricature Indian, to portray "a full-blown Indian man" with a thick accent and to "make it funny" during an audition for a Jack Neo movie.PHOTO: SHREY BHARGAVA/ FACEBOOK

They question man about the intentions behind his post and find 'no criminal offence'

The police questioned a Singapore actor who alleged racism during an audition for a Jack Neo movie, but have closed the case saying "no criminal offence" has been found.

Mr Shrey Bhargava said he was called by the police for questioning on Wednesday and was told that a police report had been made against him. He was asked about the intentions behind his post, he added in an e-mail to The Straits Times yesterday. The police confirmed that a report was lodged.

"After looking into the matter, it has been assessed that (there was) no criminal offence," said the police spokesman. "(The) police will not be conducting further investigations."

A spokesman for the producers of the Ah Boys To Men 4 movie has declined to say more on the issue. "We stand by our earlier statements and have no further comments," said the spokesman for J Team Productions and mm2 Entertainment.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

This was after Mr Bhargava invited producers to release tapes of the audition - conflicting versions of which have emerged.

The saga began after the 22-year-old wrote on Facebook last Saturday that he felt insulted after he was asked to do a caricature Indian, to portray "a full-blown Indian man" with a thick accent and to "make it funny" during an audition for the military-themed Ah Boys To Men 4 film.

 

The post was shared widely and it ignited a debate about "casual racism" in Singapore. He also came under attack and was called a crybaby and a hypocrite.

Mr Bhargava said police officers were friendly when they questioned him and told him not to worry as he had done nothing wrong. He showed the police the hate messages and abusive comments he had received and was advised to contact the police if the threats worsened.

"I was advised to be cautious about what I post online as people may misinterpret me and my intentions," he added.

The film's producers said on Monday that Mr Bhargava was asked to try different ways of presenting the role of an Indian soldier during the May 27 audition. They said that "it is not uncommon during auditions for casting directors to test the versatility of actors".

They added that director Jack Neo, a Cultural Medallion recipient, is acutely aware of race sensitivity.

Mr Bhargava said in the e-mail that the producers' statement is inaccurate. "I was asked to do the scene only twice. The first time, I did without direction. The second time, I did after being given the direction to 'be more Indian' and to do it again as a 'full-blown Indian man'."

He asked the producers to release the audition tapes to clear things up.

To critics who said he had put on accents in past performances, he said: "The accent is not the problem. It becomes a problem when the only role for the minority in a film is a racial caricature made to be amusing for the majority and the accent's sole purpose is to feed that stereotype." He added: "Why is being 'more Indian' supposed to be 'funny'?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'Police close case on actor who alleged racism'. Print Edition | Subscribe