Making his B’wood debut with Double XL, Mahat on how films stereotype south Indian characters for comic effect
Mahat Raghavendra, who has predominantly worked in Tamil and Telugu films, recently made his Bollywood debut with Sonakshi Sinha and Huma Qureshi-starrer Double XL. The movie’s theme of body positivity was a big draw for him. What lured him further to Satramm Ramani’s directorial venture was the authentic representation of his character of a Tamil cinematographer. In a much-needed change, his character’s regional identity is not exploited to evoke humour. “When Mudassar [Aziz, writer] narrated the script, he told me that a lot of people were making fun of south Indians in their writing. He didn’t want to [depict] my character like that. He didn’t want [to further] the language barriers that people have in their mind. That’s why there is a mix of Tamil and Hindi lyrics in one of the songs,” the actor states.
For long, Hindi films have been rightly criticised for stereotypical representation of people from the south. The actor hopes that going forward, filmmakers employ more sensitivity in their storytelling. “In Double XL, nowhere is fun poked at south Indians. You can pull off comedy without hurting anyone’s feelings.”
As an actor who strives for authenticity, Raghavendra believes that artistes must do thorough homework before attempting films in varied languages. “When I did Telugu films, I didn’t know the language as well as the Telugu-speaking actors, but I worked on my diction. One should learn the language,” says the actor, who is improving his Hindi to explore more opportunities in Bollywood.