Is Guy Ritchie's Aladdin remake getting it all wrong with their casting?

Guy Ritchie's Aladdin is finding it difficult to find their lead characters - Aladdin and Jasmine - India and Middle East. Social-media reactions galore over this news.

FP Staff July 12, 2017 20:48:20 IST
Is Guy Ritchie's Aladdin remake getting it all wrong with their casting?

Aladdin's story is one of those tales that has captivated and enthralled generations after generations. Aladdin and his friends princess Jasmine, Abu the money, Iago the parrot, the magic carpet and of course Genie, are part of the collective consciousness of people across the globe.

Is Guy Ritchies Aladdin remake getting it all wrong with their casting

Disney's Aladdin. Image courtesy: Twitter

However, Disney's animated rendition of the story made it immortal. Following that, many adaptations have been made on TV as well as the big screen. But all of them have been animated. It was only in 2016, when it was reported that director Guy Ritchie will helm a live-action feature film based on Aladdin's story.

Since then, the studio has been doing rounds over the casting for the film. They declared an open auditions exclusively for Middle-Eastern actors who can sing and dance.

According to Collider, the studio is doing something similar with their live action Mulan remake and noted that producer Dan Lin, and Guy Ritchie are focused on diversity and avoiding past films mistakes:

"When I came in to make the movie, I wanted to make a diverse version of the movie. Luckily for me, Guy Ritchie has the same vision and Disney has the same vision, so we’re not here to make Prince of Persia. We want to make a movie that’s authentic to that world."

However, the makers found it difficult to cast the lead characters in the Middle East. Hence, they set their eyes upon India; they hired famous Mumbai-based casting director Tess Joseph to find their Aladdin and Jasmine in India. Then, it was reported that Hollywood actor Will Smith has been roped in to play the iconic character of Genie. Genie's voice in the 1992 Disney's animated film was given by late actor Robin Williams. Now, The Hollywood Reporter says that the studio is finding it difficult to find actors to play the lead roles in the movie. Though they have some names in mind, but nothing has been materialised yet. While names like Dev Patel, Riz Ahmed are doing rounds for Aladdin's role, Naomi Scott or Indian actress Tara Sutaria are being considered to play Jasmine. For some, this racist selection or even the intent to select diverse actors didn't go well. Many members of the Twitterati, across the globe, reacted on the development. Some said, how difficult could it get to find an actor in India or of Indian origin to play Aladdin or Jasmine when the country churns out the maximum number of films all over the world, and nearly all of them being musicals.

Some even went on to provide options:

Some said, what is the point in finding actors in India when the characters are innately Arabian/ Middle Eastern (much like the initial conception of director Ritchie and producer Lin). That is a very valid point to make, because to consider Indians to play Arabian characters is again a racist thought. All Eastern people are not brown, and vice-versa.

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