Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda is receiving flak on social media for a sexist and casteist remark against Mayawati, four times Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh. In a video shared online, Hooda claims he's going to make a "dirty joke" and sets up a premise of Mayawati walking down a street with twins (aged a few years apart).
When she makes the children’s age gap clear to an inquiring stranger, his reply becomes the 'punch line', "Someone has been there twice?". Randeep is seen laughing in the video, the audience also cheers him on.
As many on social media rightly pointed out, both Mayawati's gender and caste identity need to be considered while understanding the impact of this “joke”. Netizens questioned whether these comments would be made about savarna men, politicians or otherwise. Some users also said that Mayawati being a Dalit woman plays a role in the confidence with which Randeep could make the “joke” in a public setting.
A Twitter user posted a video of Randeep Hooda making the comment and wrote, "if this does not explain how casteist and sexist this society is, especially towards dalit women, i don’t know what will. the “joke”, the audacity, the crowd. randeep hooda, top bollywood actor talking about a dalit woman, who has been the voice of the oppressed."
The exact date of when the video was recorded has not been confirmed as yet.
CPIML Politburo leader Kavita Krishnan also shared the video with the comment, criticising it for being casteist and misogynist. She tweeted, "Not a "joke" @RandeepHooda . You notice no one makes "jokes" saying a male politician is too ugly to f***? You are doing what casteist, misogynist, insecure turds do when confronted with women whose strength they fear: attack the woman as unattractive."
Several netizens agree with that sentiment.
Some users on social media also asked UNEP (UN Environment Programme) to reconsider their appointment of Randeep Hooda as the ambassador of the Bonn Convention which deals with the protection of migratory species.
Ridiculing female politicians for their appearance is not a new occurrence, it's been done before. Whenever a woman and/or a Dalit-Bahujan person seek a position of power, people start talking about their physical appearance and caste identity, disregarding their merit.
In March 2014, a major publication published an an article about five Indian female politicians who 'need a fashion makeover'. Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, J. Jayalalithaa, Uma Bharti and Rabri Devi were on the list.
Recently, many celebrities have been called out for their casteist remarks, including TV actors Munmun Dutta, Yuvika Chaudhary, comedian Neville Shah, sportsperson Yuvraj Singh.
(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)