Actor Laurence Fox has called the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in Oscar-nominated film 1917, calling it “institutionally racist”.
The Lewis star said that ‘forcing diversity on people’ is ‘institutionally racist’ after saying that the inclusion of Nabhaan Rizwan portraying Sepoy Jondalar was not in keeping with the film’s surroundings.
He added that the “oddness of the casting” causes a “very heightened awareness of the colour of someone’s skin”.
Fox said: “There were Sikhs fighting this war… Ok, you’re now diverting me away from what the story is.”
He added: “There is something institutionally racist about forcing diversity on people in that way.”
Mr Fox said: ‘It’s like, “There were Sikhs fighting in this war” . . . OK, you’re now diverting me away from what the story is. There is something institutionally racist about forcing diversity on people in that way.’
His criticism, reported by Sebastian Shakespeare, comes as the movie is up for 10 Oscars including Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture.
The 41-year-old actor questioned the credibility of the storyline and said the casting of Mr Rizwan caused ‘a very heightened awareness of the colour of someone’s skin’ because of ‘the oddness of the casting’.
He praised the performance of Mr Rizwan himself, saying it was ‘great’, adding that the inclusion of a Sikh soldier in the ranks ‘didn’t bother me particularly’.
But he added that the inclusion ‘did sort of flick me out of what is essentially a one-shot film [because]it’s just incongruous with the story’.
Sikhs fought in their own regiments in the British Army from September 1914 as part of the British Empire, and thousands died in the conflict.
It comes after the actor sparked controversy last week after an appearance on Question Time in which he called an academic studying race and ethnicity racist for calling him a “white, privileged male”.
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