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BizAsia looks back at actors who have been accused of faking accent

Amidst all the celebration and excitement at winning not one, but two global awards ‘RRR’ star Jr NTR’s upbeat mood must certainly have been dampened by online trolls he faced for an alleged ‘fake’ accent.

The southern megastar was at the receiving end of online hate and displeasure when an interview of his post the Golden Globe award win went viral. Not for the best reasons, of course! The buzz only got louder when SS Rajamouli’s ‘RRR’ team won two awards – Best Song and Best Foreign Language Film – at the 2023 Critic’s Choice Movie awards. This trolling didn’t get past Rama Rao Jr, who in a later interview quipped, “We are just divided by time zones and a little bit of an accent. Other than that, what an actor goes through in the West is exactly the same process as in the East.” What was unfortunate was that there were a ton of things to make out of this glorious win. In fact, Jr NTR even made a reporter’s day on the red carpet when he handed over a thoughtful present for the journo who was on duty. But no, it was the ‘fake’ accent that roared loud for some.

This is not the first time that we have seen an Indian celebrity code-switching, have we? When Anil Kapoor featured in Danny Boyle’s ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ released and for many years later, we saw banter around the ‘Jugjugg Jeeyo’ actor’s fake English accent. And who can forget Kareena Kapoor Khan’s infamous comment on her then arch-rival Priyanka Chopra’s angrezi accent? Remember this was when desi girl’s career was just picking steam in the West. She had a promising music career with release of her song ‘Exotic’ release and her TV series ‘Quantico’ gearing for a launch. On Karan Johar’s chat show, Kareena had taken a jibe at her ‘Aitraaz’ co-star and said, “Why does she (Priyanka Chopra) have that accent?”. Of course, in the same season of ‘Koffee With Karan’, the Baywatch actress had hit back at Kareena and replied, “The same place her boyfriend (now husband: Saif Ali Khan) got it from”.

It was not just Kareena, during the promotions of ‘Quantico’ on ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’ the host took a pot-shot at the ‘Love Again’ actress’ accent and questioned if she found it difficult to get the American accent right. In fact, even after her appearance on ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ there was an online debate about PC’s “fake” accent versus Deepika Padukone’s desi one. Clearly, it did not stop Priyanka from speaking the way she does. In Priyanka’s defence, her voice coach from Miss India pageant days did confirm that the actress was asked to lose her American accent while training for Miss World in 2000.

Much like Priyanka and Jr NTR, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan too came under trolls’ radar during her Cannes interview. The ‘Ponniyin Selvan: I’ actress was also reprimanded for faking to fit in. It didn’t take away from Ash’s fame or popularity. In fact, another actress who was troubled with her own accent was Deepika Padukone. The ‘Pathan’ actress was apprehensive and in an interview to Vogue had said that she was worried she’d be written off because of her south Indian accent. Well, looks like its not just the western accent, those in limelight can get trolled even if they do not make an attempt to fit-in.

What one truly needs to ask though is – does putting on an accent during foreign promotions really matter more than one’s achievements? Well, I’m sure ‘RRR’s win has earned those targeting these stars some bragging rights abroad. After all, they have made India famous in the foreign shores, haven’t they?

By Rashma Shetty