'TMKOC's Babitaji, Munmun Dutta, uses casteist slur; invites netizens' ire
Munmun Dutta, best known for playing Babita Iyer in the Hindi sitcom Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah, has drawn the ire of social media. In one of her recent videos, where she shares how she wants to look in her upcoming YouTube posts, Dutta uses the word "bhangi." Netizens erupted, demanding her arrest. Meanwhile, the post stands deleted and Dutta has issued an apology.
'Bhangi' is used as slang, but is a SC surname
The video has Dutta talking about some of the intricacies she took care of while applying makeup, because she wants to look good in her YouTube videos. That's when she blurts out that casteist slur, which is often used as a slang for people from the lower caste, like garbage pickers, etc. Bhangi is basically a surname that belongs to the SC category.
Social media users warned her not to insult Valmiki community
However, in many places, the word is used as a general slang, irrespective of the caste. As soon as the video surfaced, netizens were left furious. They made the hashtag #ArrestMunmunDutta trend on Twitter, with some asking her not to insult the Valmiki community. Valmiki caste is an umbrella term for a large cluster of castes and local groups from India, including the Bhangis.
Netizens have reported the matter to Mumbai Police, want action
.@moonstar4u भंगी शब्द का इस्तेमाल कर वाल्मीकि समाज को अपमानित कर रही है@CPMumbaiPolice @MumbaiPolice इनके खिलाफ एससी एसटी एट्रोसिटी एक्ट में मुकद्दमा दर्ज कर इसे जेल मे डाला जाये ।— राम अवतार सिंह वाल्मीकि 💯% FB (@RamAvtarValmiki) May 10, 2021
Dutta apologizes, says was 'misinformed' due to 'language barrier'
Meanwhile, after facing massive backlash, Dutta has deleted that particular video, but netizens got a hold of it before that. Thereafter, she issued an apology, where she said that due to the "language barrier," she was "misinformed about the meaning of the word." "Once I was made aware of its meaning, I immediately took the part down. I sincerely regret the same," she added.
Was never said with the intent of insult, actress says
Dutta, a Durgapur native, made her acting debut in 2004
Dutta, a native of Durgapur, West Bengal, made her acting debut in Hum Sab Baraati, a 2004 ZEE TV serial. She got the role of beloved Babitaji in Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah in 2008, and is since attached to the series. Her debut film was Mumbai Xpress, co-starring Kamal Haasan. Apart from this, she regularly posts makeup videos/photos on Instagram and other channels.
Earlier, Yuvraj Singh, Salman Khan had used the same slur
To note, this isn't the first time a popular face has used a casteist slur this casually, and faced backlash. Earlier, Yuvraj Singh said it in jest, referring to India leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, while chatting with Rohit Sharma. He consequently apologized. Before him, Salman Khan, Shilpa Shetty and Sonakshi Sinha too had used the same word. They had faced angry reactions as well.