Richa Chadha shared her ‘parting thoughts’ on the controversy surrounding Madam Prime Minister as it released in theatres. The first poster of the film faced backlash for allegedly stereotyping the Dalit community by showing her holding a broom in her hand. Some also took offence to the word ‘untouchable’ in the poster.
In a statement shared on Twitter, Richa wrote, “The film releases across the country and abroad today. Still reading some very angry tweets, threads about myself, (not the film yet, no one has seen it). Some people are just venting. And that’s ok. I am listening, learning… as I have been attempting to, for the past 2-3 years…”
While Richa justified the anger over representation in Madam Chief Minister, she said that it was misdirected, as she is not the only one to contribute to the film. “Here, some thoughts on the representation debate, from my limited, self-admittedly privileged understanding. The anger is completely understandable, especially with the poster et al. I get it. I understand this anger. But as is often the case with anger, it is in fact misdirected since I am not the sole creator of this film. Hundreds if not thousands of people have worked on it,” she wrote.
Richa said that it is not possible for her to undo centuries of caste apartheid or become an expert on the subject just by doing one film. “I can’t undo historical caste injustices, or brutalisation dating back thousands of years. Please don’t expect me to become a scholar or expert on the subject, by acting in one film, especially when it is as vast and complicated as caste and varna,” she wrote.
“I don’t even contest the fact that my performance will never ever be able to replicate the lived experience of a DBA actor. I am aware of that and it only made me work harder. As someone who is an artist, who considers herself an ally, I choose to do whatever little I can, in my capacity as an individual. I have attempted to play this part with dignity, honesty and empathy. As that was frankly the only thing in my control,” she added.
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Richa said that her thoughts were coming from a place of empathy and not ‘charity or patronisation’. She also clarified that she is not mistaking ‘trolls/death-threat givers/fake-news spreaders for genuine voices’.
Earlier, after the release of the Madam Chief Minister poster, Richa responded to the criticism and said that her ‘privileged eyes’ did not consider that the prop could be seen as a stereotypical portrayal of the Dalit community. She clarified that she had no role in the designing of the poster but added that the makers took the criticism in their stride.
Written and directed by Subhash Kapoor, Madam Chief Minister is said to be loosely inspired by the life of former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati.