The National Commission for Women slammed comedy TV show, Comedy Nights Bachao, for allegedly making fun of the skin tone of actress Tannishtha Chatterjee and said it is exploring avenues to initiate action on the “unfortunate episode”. NCW chief Lalitha Kumaramangalam said it was “deplorable” and “pathetic” that the TV show “stooped to such a low level to garner TRPs”.
“This was wrong on so many levels, in gender construct and social construct and it sets a very bad precedent. It is in bad taste and condemnable. In the name of freedom of expression, one should not and cannot allow perpetuation of social prejudice,” Kumaramangalam said. She said the NCW has taken cognisance of the incident and by tomorrow it will initiate action on the “unfortunate episode”.
“We are consulting our lawyers to determine our own course of action. And, tomorrow we will also issue a letter to the apex authority on monitoring of the broadcast media content, to bring to their notice the episode,” she said.
As a part of the promotions for her recently released film “Parched”, Tannishtha along with director Leena Yadav and co-star Radhika Apte had gone to show — Comedy Nights Bachao. The actress, in a lengthy Facebook post, wrote about her frustration with the way her skin complexion was targeted by the comics on the show. The 35-year-old actress said she initially tried to go along with the show, but could not tolerate the “offensive” jokes after a point.
“I could not believe I was sitting in a nationally televised comedy show in 2016 in Mumbai amid such regressive (I can’t call it humour), and blatantly racist content. Though I was feeling suffocated, I decided to give it another chance, and sat through another equally offensive segment,” the actress wrote on Facebook.
The NCW chief said, “What kind of language was that, using jamun as a reference to her skin tone? I dare if the host would use the same kind of language for any male actor? It was in poor taste.” She further said, “The roasting as they say, cannot be done on gender and caste lines. It is unfortunate.”
Replying to her post, the TV channel Colors wrote it has always addressed pertinent social issues and was sad that she had a traumatic experience on the show.
Earlier, Bollywood stars like Ajay Devgn, Nandita Das and Hansal Mehta have rallied behind Tannishtha. Ajay, who has produced “Parched”, said, “There has to be a limit. I have not seen it (episode). I need to see to comment correctly on it. Sometimes sense of humour goes overboard, there has to be limit. “We all have sense of humour and we all accept jokes on self. The person who cracks the jokes has to draw a line. I think the mindset needs to change;” he told reporters at an event here.
Das, who has been outspoken about the issue in the past as well, tweeted, “To be sexist, racist, regressive is just not funny. It is not cool. These days prejudices seem to surface more…” Mehta narrated one of his experiences related the to colour prejudice, saying nothing has changed.
“In 1994 one of my first short films was rejected by a TV channel not because the story was too dark but because the actors were too dark. Nothing has changed as is obvious with @TannishthaC in a so-called ‘comedy’ show. But @TannishthaC nothing to despair about. Indian television does not deserve you,” wrote Hansal on his Twitter page.