Actor Ali Fazal took to Twitter to congratulate his girlfriend Richa Chadha on her film, Madame Chief Minister. Praising Richa, the actor said that she had “outdone herself”. The film, which released on January 22, features Richa as a Dalit woman who rises to the position of the Chief Minister of her state.
Retweeting a post by Richa, Ali Fazal wrote: “Had the fortune of witnessing this spectacle! My love, you’ve outdone yourself..one of your best performances ever.I hope the naysayers get a glimpse of what this film,this commentary really stands for. It is indeed a study and a sum up. To the team- BRAVA. #MadamChiefMinister." (sic)
Replying to him, Richa wrote, “Thank you meri jaan, thrilled (and relieved) you liked the film. Love.
The tweet comes at a time when Richa and the team of the film have been harshly criticised Dalit activities on the stereotypical portrayal of the oppressed community. The criticism was primarily directed at the first poster of the film, which featured Richa holding a broomstick and a tagline read “Untouchable, Unstoppable”.
Dalit activists and experts explained that the poster represented a lack of understanding of the nuances of the caste system and its systemic damage. Activists also pointed out that the film helmed by director Subhash Kapoor has almost no Dalit members in its primary cast and crew. Following a barrage of such reactions, the team withdrew the poster and released a second poster the following day.
Prior to the release, Chadha shared her ‘parting thoughts’ on Twitter. She wrote: “The anger over Madam Chief Minister, while understandable, is misdirected...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…”
She added: “I don't even contest the fact that my performance will never ever be able to replicate the lived experience of a DBA (Dalit, Bahujan and Adivasi ) 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.