Singapore

Cops quiz actor who alleged racism in Jack Neo movie audition

Cops quiz actor who alleged racism in Jack Neo movie audition

The police have 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 in by the police for questioning on Wednesday and was told that police reports were made against him.

He was questioned 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 no criminal offence was disclosed," said the police spokesman. "Police will not be conducting further investigations in relation to the case."

A spokesman for the producers behind 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 a spokesman for producers J Team Productions and mm2 Entertainment.

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

INSULTED

The saga began after the 22-year-old wrote on Facebook on Saturday that he felt insulted after he was asked 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 that police officers were friendly when they questioned him and told him not to worry as he had done nothing wrong.

He then 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 to my detriment. I will keep this in mind for the future," 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 that casting directors decide to test the versatility of actors".

They said that director Jack Neo, a Culture 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 'be more Indian' and to do it again as a 'full-blown Indian man'."

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

To critics who said that 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'?"

Singaporepolicemovie