Television actors controversy 2021: In a year that had no dearth of events, and perhaps not in the best way possible what with the pandemic ravaging lives, television women actors, unfortunately, ruffled some feathers and made headlines for all the wrong reasons. For what they said or did, these women were subjected to public scrutiny, criticism, accusations but, most importantly, were held accountable.
In the age of social media, nothing goes missed and nothing ever really disappears off the internet. A digital footprint of every gaffe, every foot-in-mouth, every error exists as reminders that our actions have consequences and someone is always watching. Sure, we are still allowed to make mistakes – to err is human – but social media, keeping us in check, sets the base for guiding us towards being more inclusive, sensitive and considerate.
Here are some women from the television industry who were checked by social media when they put a wrong foot forward.
1. Munmun Dutta
Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah fame actor Munmun Dutta found herself in a soup after uttering a casteist slur on camera during a makeup video she posted on social media in May this year. After massive outrage built on the internet, Dutta took down her video and issued an apology, citing a “language barrier” as the reason the slur was used in a “misinformed” way.
However, the controversy didn’t end with her apology. A section of netizens fired up over the incident began demanding Dutta’s arrest. She was booked under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act after a complaint was filed in Haryana. It was reported that the entire cast of TMKOC was made to sign an undertaking preventing them from insulting marginalised persons after Dutta’s video.
2. Yuvika Chaudhary
Not long after Dutta, a video of actor Yuvika Chaudhary, popular for appearances in various television shows, using the same caste slur went viral on social media. The clip also featured her husband Prince Narula. More here. Chaudhary, following the backlash, apologised in a statement, saying she was unaware of the meaning of the word she used.
As per reports, Chaudhary was arrested by Haryana police in October this year months after the caste slur incident. She was released shortly after on interim bail. The arrest came following a complaint filed in Haryana, with the complainant alleging Chaudhary’s comments made before an internet-wide audience could instigate violence. Read here.
3. Sambhavna Seth
As if these past incidents weren’t a lesson on proceeding with prudence on social media, especially if one were a famous celebrity, actor Sambhavna Seth and her husband Avinash appeared to make fun of their domestic worker in a vlog she shared online in July. The domestic worker, an Adivasi woman, was speaking on the phone in her local language before Seth and Avinash repeat the words she used back to her, rolling on the floor with laughter. Literally.
After backlash against them, Seth and Avinash pulled down the video and in a joint statement said it was not their “intention” to hurt any sentiments. “Humne kahin bhi racism wali baat nahi ki,” they said, in what many netizens said did not amount to a real apology. [“Whatever we said was not racism.”] Read an opinion on how social media holds celebrities accountable.
4. Meera Mitun
That was not all when it came to actors being accused of casteism this year. Tamil film and television industry celebrity Meera Mitun was arrested in August after she made derogatory remarks against the Scheduled Castes community in an interview, as per reports.
She was taken into custody in Kerala, where she allegedly created a ruckus prior to her arrest. Videos from the incident that went viral showed Mitun alleging police were trying to harass her and would kill herself if anyone laid a finger on her. Several Dalit movements had filed complaints against Mitun. She was ultimately granted bail by a Chennai court in September.
Muktha, who is known for work in Tamil and Malayalam television, found herself at the receiving end of massive criticism after certain remarks she made on a show in reference to her daughter were deemed sexist by viewers. As per reports, Muktha said on a game show that she had been teaching her young daughter household chores since being a girl, she should have those skills. She apparently also said that after marriage, all women become homemakers.
When the game show episode aired, Muktha was called out on social media for furthering the regressive idea of gender roles. In a sharp counter-reaction, the actor said in a statement referencing her daughter, “She is mine. May the world say whatever.”