Is it ethical for actors and actresses to talk about films they have opted out of?
During one of her recent interviews, Kareena Kapoor was asked about the projects she let go of — including blockbusters such as 'Ram Leela', 'Queen', 'Chennai Express', 'Fashion', 'Kal Ho Na Ho' and 'Black'. The actress is said to have replied, “I am honoured and glad to give work to other people. I hope these actresses become stars now that I have rejected big projects.”
Shraddha Kapoor apparently refused Umesh Shukla’s film as she wanted to star opposite senior actors
This brings us back to the age-old question: is it ethical to talk about a film one has said no to, whatever be the reason? Is it fine to talk about the other actor who has replaced him/her as the second choice?
Imran Khan apparently thought it necessary to come clean about his reasons for not doing Ekta Kapoor’s film, 'Milan Talkies'
Sonam Kapoor thinks it is not ethical to boast about a film one has rejected. She recently told hitlist that it is not professional to talk about such films. “I never talk about the films that I am not a part of. It is not fair to the other actor doing the project.”
Clearly, actors and actresses swear by different norms as far as talking about such projects is concerned. Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt feels that it varies from person to person. “There are certain core values which ought to be followed. If one is not doing a particular film, it does not allow you to bad-mouth the project. Not being part of a film does not mean that the project is not good enough. There can be various reasons behind a person not taking on a film; either way, it’s not right to talk about it. If only we were careful about our behaviour, Bollywood would be a saner place,” he says.
However, at times, certain circumstances compel the actor or actress to give a justification about why they walked out of a particular film. Imran Khan, who was dropped by Ekta Kapoor from her film, 'Milan Talkies', apparently felt pinned against the wall before he offered an explanation. It is said that Khan was not in favour of the aggressive strategy that Ekta followed while promoting their earlier film, 'Once Upon Ay Time in Mumbai Dobaara'. Ekta’s team then felt that they would face similar issues while promoting Tigmanshu Dhulia’s film, 'Milan Talkies'.
Imran, on his part, spelt out reasons behind his exit as there were too many theories floating around. He had then said in an interview, “I opted out of 'Milan Talkies' due to personal reasons. I am very happy with my decision as it allows me to sleep peacefully at night.” Apparently, this revelation was not taken too kindly by Ekta Kapoor and her team. The role was then offered to Shahid Kapoor, who turned it down as well because he apparently wanted an A-list actress to be cast opposite him.
Similarly, Ayushmann Khurrana walked out of Kunal Kohli’s film because he wanted to work with an established actress. The actor was apparently promised a film starring a leading actress, but when this didn’t happen, he opted out of the project and spoke about the same.
Filmmaker Kunal Kohli didn’t take these comments too kindly. He lashed out against the actor, saying, “Ayushmann is just one film old. He should realise that I have always cast actors according to the needs of the role. It is demeaning to say X or Y is not a big name; no one should talk like that or categorise actors. I never promised anyone any list of actors or actresses.” Taken aback by this outburst, Khurrana then said, “There is no point in talking to him. He spoke so much about me and portrayed me as someone I am not. I wouldn’t have gained anything from having a conversation with him. But I have nothing against him.”
Tigmanshu Dhulia says that talking about a film one is no longer a part of only creates bad blood between the concerned parties. “The actors may not realise this but it actually ruins things for the project. I think it’s their publicists who tell them to go ahead and make such statements.”
In any other industry, professionals generally refrain from talking about jobs that they don’t take up or offers they turn down. Umesh Shukla, whose upcoming film was refused by Shraddha Kapoor, says that an actor/actress being replaced by another is commonplace in the industry and there is no reason why it should be talked about. “One shouldn’t take offence at being signed on in place of another name. Shraddha, for one, wanted to be a part of my film, and she even called me to discuss the same. She finally had to let go of it due to date issues,” he says. Rumours, however, say that the actress said no to the film because she wanted to act opposite older actors like John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan.
Such instances abound in the industry: Kareena Kapoor was Madhur Bhandarkar’s first choice for his film, 'Heroine'; but after she turned it down, it was offered to Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan, who opted out due to her pregnancy. Kapoor then returned to the project, although she demanded a much higher price for it.
Some celebs choose to talk about the offers they let go of, and others decide to keep mum about it. It all boils down to each individual’s personal code of ethics.