Sexist remarks by Bollywood actors: Film industry stars are not exactly known for being the biggest feminists and often don’t hold back from making deeply problematic statements.
However, since we live in the age of the internet, these statements more often than not come back to haunt our leading men. An old clip gets dug out from a chat show, gets circulated on social media, the actor gets called out, they either stays mum and dodges criticism or tries to wait out before offering an apology.
The most recent example is Randeep Hooda, whose “dirty joke” on politician Mayawati made nine years ago at a public event resurfaced online, prompting wide outrage against him and his removal as a UN ambassador. More on it here.
The question however is, why do some celebrities only realise that their statements are sexist when social media explicitly points them out? Does their apology even mean anything, if it stems more from fear of backlash than genuine remorse over their words and the tone in which such statements are made? For their sake and ours too, don’t our celebrities need to do better?
Here are some famously sexist remarks by Bollywood actors:
An old video of actor Randeep Hooda surfaced online in which the actor is seen making a sexist “joke” on the former Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati.
He then goes on to set a premise of Mayawati walking down a street with two boys of age four and eight, and a man asks if the boys were twins. After she clarifies the age gap of the children, the man replies, “I can’t believe someone has been there twice.” The actor is then seen laughing while the audience cheers him.
After the backlash, the actor has been removed as the ambassador of the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals. He has yet not spoken about the issue.
In a 2011 interview on Koffee With Karan with Anushka Sharma, Singh asked her, “Hey, you want your ass pinched? I’m right here.” Sharma was shocked by the statement and demanded Singh to not talk to her like that.
In the same interview, Singh also talked about Kareena Kapoor Khan and said that he went from “child to boy” watching her in a swimsuit. He addressed the issue later, saying that it was his “first big show” and that he “did not know what to say”, adding now he “knows better.”
A video of an old interview went viral in 2019, for which actor Ranbir Kapoor received a lot of flak. In the interview, Kaif kept trying to fix her collar mic but it fell inside every time. Noticing this, Kapoor said to Kaif in an animated manner, “Why does your mic keep dropping? Do you need help in fixing it?”
A furious Kaif gives him a stern look to which Kapoor said to Prakash Jha, “She (Katrina) keeps fighting all day sir.”
Pathetic from Ranbir..
Asking a woman surrounded by other men "why does ur mic keeps dropping" & "do u need help in fixing it", then wen Katrina fiercely reacts to it, he replies "She keeps fighting all day sir" in such a shameful manner..
PS: He was dating Deepika those days.. pic.twitter.com/Z3FyMXMFAI
— Indom (@IndomitableRVS) January 11, 2019
Akshay Kumar got into controversy over a sexist comment he made on the show The Great Indian Laughter Challenge, in 2017, when he was severely criticised for saying to Mallika Dua, “Mallika ji aap bell bajaaiye, main aapko bajaata hoon.”
The offensive remark did not go well with both Dua, her family and fans. She posted an open letter addressing the issue saying she wanted to start a dialogue about workplace etiquette where big shots can often not distinguish between ‘charm and harm’. “I want humor to be limitless. I also don’t want to be uncomfortable at my work place. The lines are blurred,” she wrote. Read here.
During the promotion of his film Sultan, Salman Khan had compared the experience of shooting for the film to a woman being raped. “When I used to walk out of that ring, it used to be actually like a raped woman walking out,” he said. Twitter users quickly pointed out that he should never have made the comparison in the first place. Hashtag #InsensitiveSalman trended on Twitter against the inappropriate remark that the actor made.
While Khan himself did not remark on the issue, his father Salim Khan issued an apology on his behalf, saying, “Undoubtedly what Salman said is wrong, the simili, example and the context. The intention was not wrong.”
Nevertheless I apologise on behalf of his family his fans & his friends. Forgiveness is to pardon the unpardonable or it is no virtue at all
— Salim Khan (@luvsalimkhan) June 21, 2016
In a video of the 71st Cannes Film Festival after-party that surfaced in 2019, actor Jim Sarbh was heard saying, “I’d rather be raped by 12 prostitutes than touch alcohol and the Punjabi says ‘Me too, I didn’t know that was an option.” Kangana Ranaut was seen laughing at the inappropriate comment which was supposedly a “joke”.
Sarbh faced major backlash but instead of apologising for it, he defended himself saying, “It is unfortunate that my comments were taken out of context. I do not now, nor have I ever condoned any form of sexual violence. This has been picked out of context without a prelude where I am actually enacting parts of a play which is a dark satire.”