Actor who auditioned for 'Ah Boys To Men 4' questioned by police over 'casual racism' post

Ah Boys to Men. (Photo via The Hive Asia)
Ah Boys to Men. (Photo via The Hive Asia)

The freelance actor who sparked a heated racism debate after he wrote on Facebook about his experience of auditioning for a local movie has been questioned by the police about his post.

Shrey Bhargava, 21, was interviewed by the police on Wednesday afternoon (31 May), the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said. Bhargava gave a statement and signed it, the SPF added.

The SPF said in a statement, “In response to media queries, the Police confirm that a report was lodged. After looking into the matter, it has been assessed that no criminal offence was disclosed. As such, Police will not be conducting further investigations in relation to the case.”

Bhargava told Yahoo Singapore, “I was informed there that there were police reports made…I was asked about the intentions behind my post as well as other questions regarding my post.

“It was determined that my intentions were not in anyway to incite racial tension or racial violence,” he added.

On Saturday (27 May), Bhargava took to his Facebook account to express his displeasure about his experience during the audition for a role in “Ah Boys To Men 4” (ABTM4), directed by Jack Neo.

Bhargava claimed that the casting director made him “portray a caricature” of his own race and even asked him to “be more Indian” by imitating an accent and to “make it funny”. This was despite Bhargava protesting that Indian Singaporeans do not speak with “exaggerated” accents.

The viral post, which has been shared over 4,400 times as of Thursday evening (1 June), sparked a debate about “casual racism” in Singapore.

Bharvaga said in his reply to Yahoo Singapore, “Specifically, I wanted Singaporeans to engage in dialogue regarding the inclusion of minorities in the media, as well as to tackle the issue of casual racism in order to create a more inclusive and harmonious Singapore.”

His comments attracted the attention of prominent netizens, such as blogger Xiaxue and ABTM4 actor Maxi Lim, who criticised him over the issue. Other netizens, however, have voiced support for him, saying that he had highlighted a pertinent social issue that is often hushed up.

ABTM4 producers clarified that Bhargava was asked to “try out different ways of presenting the role”, which included presenting as someone who speaks with an Indian accent.

They continued, “It is not uncommon during auditions that casting directors decide to test the versatility of actors by asking them to perform in a wide range of roles and characters, not necessarily always according to the script requirements”.

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