When Anupam Kher threatened to ruin the career of an actor

The old dubbing controversy resurfaces to embarrass BJP’s poster boy Anupam Kher and his wife, BJP MP Kirron Kher



Photo by Gurpreet Singh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Gurpreet Singh/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
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NH Political Bureau

Seventeen years after the dubbing controversy over Rituparno Ghosh directed film Bariwali (produced by Anupam Kher) was buried, the controversy has resurfaced to embarrass Kher and his wife Kirron, who is now a BJP Member of Parliament. Kher himself has been in the forefront of the so-called nationalists’ protests against Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) students.

Way back in 2000 Kirron Kher won the best actress award for her role in the Bengali feature film. The jury headed by director Goutam Ghosh were divided on the award with some holding that dialogue delivery and articulation were necessary parts of acting and if Kirron Kher had not spoken the dialogues, the award would be questioned. Others led by Saeed Mirza felt that even if the dialogue had been dubbed, the body language should be enough to judge the quality of acting.

The issue had then been confounded by the Khers reportedly declaring that the voice was Kirron Kher’s—a mandatory requirement while entering any film for the national awards. Kirron Kher herself was quoted as saying that she had learnt Bengali for six months before shooting started. The controversy was extensively reported then in the media and can be read here.

Reeta Kayral, a Bengali TV actress, had triggered the controversy by claiming that the voice in the film was hers. “Why else would the producer pay me,” she had asked while daring Kirron Kher to read out even a page of the dialogue to prove Kayral wrong.

After the modalities were finalised, Kayral claimed on the TV show, Kher casually mentioned that there was a rider, that she should deny to the media that she had dubbed for Kirron. Kayral, who had been told by Ghosh that she was also eligible for a national award if she had lent her voice, refused to do any such thing.

The dubbing controversy erupted once again last week at a Zee Bangla programme ‘Apur Sansar’. Kayral was invited to the programme, a chat show, and among other things was asked about the dubbing controversy.

She said that she had received a call from the chairman of the jury Goutam Ghosh who had inquired if the voice was hers. She had innocently confirmed that she had indeed dubbed for Kirron Kher.

Soon thereafter she received a call from Anupam Kher, who asked if she had dubbed, when she had dubbed and how much she had been paid for dubbing. After hearing her out, Kayral recalled, Anupam Kher expressed surprise at the amount paid to her. He mentioned a much higher figure, she claimed, than what was paid to her, and offered to send the balance amount to her in cash.

After the modalities were finalised, Kayral claimed on the TV show, Kher casually mentioned that there was a rider, that she should deny to the media that she had dubbed for Kirron. Kayral, who had been told by Ghosh that she was also eligible for a national award if she had lent her voice, refused to do any such thing.

Kher, she recalled pleasantly enough, then went on to threaten her. He would ruin her acting career and ensure that she never received another chance to act either in Bollywood or in Tollywood again, he had declared, remembered Kayral with a laugh.

Kher’s behaviour then is of course in sharp contrast to the couple’s ‘moralistic and nationalist’ political stand during the past few years. The poster boy of the BJP has also been in the news for tweeting pictures of dead bodies in Kashmir dating back to 1990 and recently for mocking the 20-year-old college student Gurmehar Kaur.

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Published: 1 Mar 2017, 2:19 PM