A BOLLYWOOD blockbuster inspired by the violent attacks on Indian students in Melbourne has come under fire for producing "venom that's spewed against Australians".
Crook: it's Good to be Bad - released last week – tells the story of an Indian who moves to Australia and finds himself in the midst of race-motivated violence.
In the film, Melbourne is depicted as a city rife with gang violence between Australians and Indians, while the locals are portrayed as being either beer-guzzling blokes and immoral women.
Indian critics have panned it for being sensationalist and its stereotyping of Australians.
"The film tries to pack in every sensational aspect of racism that is possible. There's a white woman who pole dances and sleeps with (the male lead) with equal fervour," a review in India Today reads.
"Naturally she is blonde and has big you-know-whats. There is a Australian man, her brother, Russell, who goes around hitting and bullying Indians. There is no other word for it. It's terrible. More than that, it is badly directed."
"Crook is far too insensitive a film," said film site bollyspice.com.
There was particular outrage against the inflammatory language made by the main character.
"A country of ex-convicts. A country where they sleep with each other without marrying. A country where they don't take care of their families. Yes that's the sort of venom that's spewed against the Australians in Crook," an India Today reviewer wrote.
Last year, the Indian media heavily covered a series of violent assaults on Indian immigrants in Melbourne, including a 10-page special in Outlook magazine entitled "Why Aussies Hate Us".
Indian cab drivers and students also staged a series of protests in Melbourne’s CBD about the issue in mid-2009.
Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan declined an honorary doctorate from the Queensland University of Technology over the issue.
Director Mohit Suri said he was inspired to make the film after visiting a Sunshine convenience store.
"As the news flashed 'Over 20 incidents of curry bashing have taken place in Sydney and Melbourne in the past 30 days', I found myself standing outside a 24-hour convenient store in the Sunshine district of Melbourne city in search of a story," he said in an interview with an Indian entertainment website.
"Inside the very same store one of the most brutal racist attacks had taken place just a few months back.
The events as told to me were horrifying, about how an Indian was brutally beaten up only because of his colour and religion."
However, an accommodation ad in the same store prompted him to look at the racism that exists in all society.
"Outraged and humiliated I felt the need to voice this as a filmmaker. However, as I left the store my eyes fell upon an advertisement on the store window, which said 'accommodation available for Indian students - for Gujrati (an Indian race) boys only'," he said.
"That advertisement ignited the germ of Crook. It made me realize that racism and all other social evils are a part of every human heart, irrespective of his class, creed, colour or sex. Good and bad, god and evil lie within us. It’s our choice to decide is it good to be bad in today’s world or does it pay to be good?"
The film has also created a stir in India for a so-called topless scene. Although shot from the back, it is considered racy in the prudish Bollywood industry.
The film was shot across Australia, South Africa and India. In some scenes, prices are clearly displayed in South African rand.