Melbourne, August 24: Melbourne’s annual Indian Film Festival in celebrating Bollywood to arthouse films through its theme – women empowerment for 2016 kicked off true to its spirit. Richa Chadha got talking!

A snap-verbose-nee-women-empowerment googly from actress and feminist Richa Chadha – and media went ga-ga about how Richa defend­ed her Pakist­ani counterpart.

And with it came the social media trolling, Richa facing the wrath of many social media users.

Now for a true perspective –

The duo was among the celebrities, addressing a media press conference at the launch of IFFM 2016 in Melbourne.

Pakistani actor Fawad Khan was asked to comment on cultural differences between India and Pakistan and Bollywood’s westernised presentation of romance on-screen.

“My question is to Mr Fawad Khan. You’re representing a country which is much different from your own. In all senses, especially Bollywood, the on screen romance or the kissing scenes show the way India has adopted Western influences…

“Because I have a lot of Pakistani friends and when I speak to them, I get the sense that the two countries are different and Pakistan is a lot different from India.”

And that was when empowerment caught on –

True to her style, Richa leapt before Fawad could begin and decided to answer the question on his behalf.

“I would like to answer that.

You know we were colonised by the British for a really long time. It’s a part of the… I am sorry if I am offending anybody here, but if you look at worldwide history, every time the British left an empire they divided it.

“Whether it was North Korea or South Korea then there was Germany. It is a part of the strategy to keep political unrest…”.

Richa then followed on to the importance of letting go of grounded stereotypes.

“I think we should avoid stereotyping in questions or creating some kind of contradiction here because the whole intent and especially does art really have any borders?

It is imperative to mention that Richa in ‘her empowered state’ did miss the ‘fine note of difference of levels of western cultural subjugation in Indian and Pakistani movie industries’ in the question to Fawad.

Yet Richa managed to touch chords in the entire south Asian populace hearts – about how we were so ONE ‘once upon a time’ and how Britain divided us.

But that was not the question Richa – in your jumpy lady-knight state, you royally missed it.

Still, so much so good. But then came the bombshell!

I am sorry but your question to me doesn’t make sense because I will have far more in common with Fawad because I am from the north of India, than I will have with somebody who is a Tambrahm or maybe a Malyali or from the north east.

But Richa, wasn’t India supposed to be ONE with many cultures – north, south, east or west?

Doubtlessly, Richa was referring to the geographical aspect and hence cultural similarity of the two countries and thus Richa felt that she and Fawad shared many values.

But to say that Richa has lesser in common with a Tambrahm or Malyali or someone from the north east?

Richa had created a controversy which she would carry with her from Melbourne to India – the trolling included.

Media called it ‘trolling Richa after she backed Fawad Khan’ in Melbourne. Question is did she really back Fawad Khan?

The question was about Fawad’s views on the cultural contradiction between India and Pakistan and how Bollywood has adopted westernisation while showcasing romance

And Fawad came across as more stable and intelligent.

“Thank you Richa. That’s really sweet of you.”

He then continued on to respond the question on the right nerve.

“In Indian films you will see the on screen intimacy is very different from what it is on Indian television because they don’t cater to all the same audiences.”

“Even Pakistani TV has always been on the forefront and is something that is available to all Pakistanis. But to cater to the sensibilities that you want to bring to cinema, you have to accept a little curve for them”.

And to probably appease to Richa he said, “We may be different but we are the same too.”

Meanwhile, Richa has been busy replying to trolls and trying to get her point across and convince everyone what she exactly meant. Little did she realise that a loud-mouthed celebrity is difficulty to comprehend for the common man who believes in an united Indian multiculturalism.

But what is a Bollywood event without a controversy – the more the merrier. Amen!

Nidhi Mehta

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