Members of the Gorkha community in India have taken strong offence at the use of a sexist slur in the second episode of Amazon’s Paatal Lok original series that dropped on Amazon Prime Video on May 15.
An online petition, initiated by the community on Monday and addressed to the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Minister Prakash Javadekar, Amazon Prime Video and series producer Anushka Sharma, asserted that the slur portrayed the community’s women in poor light and demanded that Amazon should mute the slur, blur the subtitles and upload edited video along with an unconditional apology and a disclaimer.
The Bhartiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh contended in its petition that the second episode of Paatal Lok had certain scenes, particularly the one that slips in at 3:41, where the Nepali speaking community was maligned. “The character is named Mary Lyngdoh (a very common surname of the Khasi community from Meghalaya),” the youth organisation stated, asserting that the derogatory term hurled at her by a policewoman didn’t just insult the Nepali community but was also an example of the wider racist stereotyping of people from the country’s northeastern region.
Nepali was one of India’s 22 scheduled languages and there were 10.5 million people in India who spoke Nepali, the petitioners observed. “The Gorkha community is the largest Nepali speaking community and this is a direct insult to the community,” it asserted.
“The word has been used in a filthy, regressive way… We shouldn’t and cannot consume anything that is stereotyping and targetting the community in the name of creative freedom and in pursuit of entertainment excellence,” said Nanda Kirati Dewan, President of the Bhartiya Gorkha Yuva Parisangh.
Observing that the issue had acquired further seriousness in the light of the instances of racial discrimination during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the group said: “We have been fighting Corona racism. To add to our woes, this web series will incite not just racial but sexual slur and rape attempts at the women of our community. We strongly condemn it in toughest terms and seek immediate removal of the scene’s subtitles and mut[ing of] the slur”.
Mr. Dewan said that the group planned to move court if it failed to receive a response from the OTT platform/producer in the next three days.
Amazon Prime Video was yet to respond to an e-mail from The Hindu seeking comment as of the time of going to the press.