The A R Rahman produced ‘99 Songs’ leaves us with many unanswered questions. The most leading of these questions has to do with the film’s leading lady, a Santiago-born Latin American lady named Edilsy Vargas.
No don’t try pronouncing that. Spare yourself the effort. I don’t think she will be seen in any other film. Why did this Indian film need a foreigner to play an Indian? Apparently, the girl neither understood nor spoke a word of Hindi. So they turned Ms Vargas’s character to a mute lady.
A move that left the rest of the cast and crew speechless. One of the supporting cast members from 99 Songs told me, “One could understand the insistence on a foreigner if she suited the character, or if she was an exceptional actress. Lekin yahan toh kuch bhi nahin dikhta(one can’t see any reason for casting her).”
The closest I’ve come to seeing a similar firangi fixation was when Imtiaz Ali cast Nargis Fakhri as the modern-day Paro to Ranbir Kapoor’s Devdas in the film Rockstar. In her defence, Nargis had asked the director the same question: Why me? Also, she is an exceptionally beautiful woman and a sport. She made fun of herself about not understanding a word of those long dialogues that she had to rattle off. “It could have been Chinese for all I knew,” Nargis chuckled.
I wonder why Imtiaz didn’t turn his Paro into a mute beauty. It would have saved Nargis the embarrassment of emoting to words she didn’t understand. Earlier, when Imtiaz had signed a Brazilan model Giselle Monteiro to play a Punjabi kudi in Love Aaj Kal, he told me he had auditioned dozens of Indian girls before picking the one who probably thought Punjab was a vaccine one took while playing with a pun.
Seriously what were these guys thinking? There are so many beautiful aspirants in India waiting for that one opportunity to get on screen. But A R Rahman in all his wisdom chooses a Latin American girl to play Sophia Singhania. Thankfully the Indian hero is played by a Kashmiri Indian.
Image source: Wikipedia