Viren Sri Gurung a member of the Lawyers Guild that has been formed to provide free legal advice in the time of the COVID-19 crisis and associated to the Chambers of Mr. Pranay Rai & Associates, has sent a legal notice to Anushka Sharma (co-producer of Paatal Lok) on 18 May for a casteist slur used in the show. A copy of the notice is with The Quint.
Gurung said that the word which appears in the second episode is insulting to the entire Nepali community.
“There is a clip wherein during an interrogation a lady police officer uses a casteist slur on a Nepali character. There wouldn’t have been any problem had only ‘Nepali’ been used. But the word that follows it is unacceptable. Since Anushka Sharma is one of the producers of the show, we have served her a notice”, Gurung said.
He added that he is yet to receive a response from Anushka, failing which the legal team will take the matter forward with the OTT platform streaming it, Amazon Prime Video, and others involved in the series.
The Gorkha community has taken strong objection to the casteist slur in Paatal Lok, demanding that the word be dropped, according to a report by The Hindu.
In an online petition started by them on Monday (18 May) and addressed to the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Minister Prakash Javadekar, Amazon Prime Video and series producer Anushka Sharma, the community said that this slur portrayed the Gorkha women in a poor light.
They asserted that the word should be muted, subtitles blurred and the edited video should be made available to all. Apart from that, the Gorkhas have also demanded an unconditional apology and a disclaimer.
The Bhartiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh added in the petition that one of the characters is named Mary Lyngdoh, which is a common surname for the Khasi community from Meghalaya. “The insult hurled at her by a policewoman reinstates the stereotyping of people from the North-East. The Gorkha is the largest Nepali-speaking community and this term puts down the entire clan”, the petition read.
Nanda Kirati Dewan, President of the Bhartiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh, told The Hindu that the manner in which the word was used was “regressive”.
“We should refrain from consuming content that shows a community in a negative light just for the sake of creative freedom”, Dewan said.
Nanda also observed that the community is already enduring coronavirus racism and to add to their troubles, this sequence from Paatal Lok will incite not just racist but rape attempts at women. Dewan also warned that they will take the matter to court if the OTT platform or the producer fail to respond within three days.
Amazon Prime Video is yet to respond to this controversy.
Starring Jaideep Ahlawat, Gul Panag, Neeraj Kabi, Abhishek Banerjee, Swastika Mukherjee in lead roles, Paatal Lok focuses on ‘swarg lok’ (heaven), ‘dharti lok’ (earth) and ‘paatal lok’ (netherworld). The series begins with this introduction and leads on to a cop landing the case of a lifetime. A journalist’s life is threatened and four suspects are taken into police custody, and their pasts reveal a dark secret.
(With inputs from The Hindu)