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The ‘Feminist’ objection to Akshay Kumar featuring as P Gopichand is, like most ‘feminist’ rants nowadays, devoid of any logic

Akshay Kumar had interviewed the Prime Minister before the general elections and that had earned him the ire of many 'secular-liberals'.

Akshay Kumar is the latest person to attract the ire of feminists. His crime? He is doing his job: acting. As per reports, Akshay Kumar is slated to play PV Sindhu’s coach, Pulella Gopichand in a biopic on the Badminton superstar who is well on her way to becoming a legend. However, Feminists aren’t pleased by the casting.

The objection seems rather bewildering. Certainly, a woman can’t play Gopichand’s character in the biopic. It is safe to say that Gopichand identifies as a man, therefore, even the gender politics theory doesn’t work.

Even the argument does not make any sense because, in the movie ‘Padman’, Akshay had played the role of the ‘Padman’, a man who goes to great lengths to ensure women have access to cheap and easily available sanitary napkins sans the social taboo. In the movie Mission Mangal, Akshay had played only a part in a story where there were many female characters. So, either the ‘feminists’ here want a ‘women-only’ movie or they do not want certain stories of women being told because male characters have played certain parts. This is not possible in a real-world scenario.

Moreover, many liberals seem to have a problem with Akshay Kumar because he has been promoting ‘nationalism’ in his movies. Moreover. Akshay Kumar had interviewed the Prime Minister before the general elections and that had earned him the ire of many ‘secular-liberals’. In present times, once a person acquires the secular-liberal mindset, facts and logic stop meaning anything to them. So facts, like Akshay Kumar being probably one of the very few actors in a certain age-group who still carry the films on their shoulders and his films being the scarce few ‘successful’ ones that Bollywood produces without the usual ‘masala’ of stunts and dance numbers probably do not mean much to these ‘feminists’.

Vidya Krishnan wasn’t the only one to object to Akshay Kumar featuring in the biopic. Other people too mocked him for it.

The entire charade only goes on to show that there’s no winning if you play the game on terms set by feminists. Constantly, male celebrities were told that they should empower women through the movies they make, that they should be ‘allies’ in empowering women. Here is Akshay Kumar, featuring in women-centric movies telling important stories about the struggles and achievements of women. And yet, feminists aren’t happy because they believe he is taking away the spotlight from the women.

We aren’t entirely sure either what sin did Akshay Kumar commit, or for that matter, the producers and directors of the yet to be made movie commit. The characters Akshay Kumar portrays were men in real life too, the genders of the characters were not deliberately changed to accommodate the Bollywood superstar.

The producers and directors cannot be blamed for packing their movie with some star-power. A lot of investment in terms of financial resources, time, emotions is made in a movie, it’s only natural for the people involved to try and go the extra mile to secure success. It’s a very natural human emotion, we want to ensure that our efforts succeed, it’s reprehensible to demonize them for that.

The objection to Akshay Kumar featuring as Pulella Gopichand in PV Sindhu’s biopic is particularly amusing. Gopichand is an integral part of Sindhu’s success story, he is not an insignificant character whose importance will be blown out of proportion merely because Akshay Kumar is playing the role.

The relationship between a coach and his player is extremely personal and a significant share of the success does depend on the coach. Sindhu wouldn’t deny that herself. She certainly has nothing but immense gratitude, respect, and love for her coach. Under such circumstances, it appears rather bewildering that feminists would object to a star with necessary attributes playing the role of Gopichand.

Sindhu’s story is not Sindhu’s alone. It is the story of her parents who worked hard to ensure her success. It is the story of her coach who believed in her and had faith in her abilities when, perhaps, even she didn’t. If a biopic has to capture the real essence of the sportswoman’s life, then it has to assemble a cast that could do justice to it. It’s only natural and it is the correct way to proceed.

For instance, if someone were to make a biopic on Rafael Nadal, would it be considered sensible if a not-so-capable actor were hired to play the role of his coach, Uncle Toni? If someone were to make a biopic on the Class of 92, does it not make absolute sense to hire a superstar to play the role of Sir Alex Ferguson?

The biopic is about PV Sindhu, the film, if and when it is made, will obviously revolve around her. But it cannot be ignored that Gopichand is an integral feature of the story and it only makes sense, from a commercial as well as an aesthetic perspective, that a star plays the role. Feminists can continue to object to it but it doesn’t take anything away from the fact that their objections are juvenile.

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K Bhattacharjee
Black Coffee Enthusiast. Post Graduate in Psychology. Bengali.

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