Bollywood actor Richa Chadha, who has been facing criticism over the casteism and stereotyping of the dalit community in the first look poster of her film Madam Chief Minister, issued an apology on Friday.
Chadha said that the poster, which was released on January 4 and depicted her in tattered clothes holding a broom, was a “regrettable and a completely unintentional oversight”.
In her statement, Chadha wrote, “The first poster that was released faced severe criticism, rightly so. What to me (and my privileged eyes) was a mere prop used by my character in a scene, came across as a stereotypical portrayal of Dalits for many of our people.”
“As an actor, I receive the communication for posting, complete with the copy, handles and hashtags. Needless to say, I have no role in the designing of promotional materials. By saying this, I am not throwing the makers under the bus. They realised this inadvertent error and took this criticism in their stride,” she added.
She said that the film’s team had retracted the “objectionable poster” immediately and released a new poster the very next day.
“It was a regrettable and a completely unintentional oversight, not a deliberate insinuation. We are sorry,” the statement read.
The first look poster however still appears on the actor’s Instagram profile.
While the image of her holding a broom was criticised, the team was also criticised because of the lack of dalit representation in the film’s cast.
In her statement, Chadha said that the film shows her character as a “feisty oddball of a woman” who “fights patriarchy, caste oppression, brutal violence along with the usual betrayals of politics, to rise to the top and affect change.”
Prior to this, Chadha had responded to criticism by asking people to watch the trailer and the film before judging it.
“Am so sorry to have failed your woke agni-pariksha. Sorry to disappoint you, that me of all people can disagree with you on certain aspects of cancel-culture. Again, watch the film or at least the trailer? For we do become what we hate quite easily sometimes…,” she tweeted on January 5.
Chadha was heavily criticised for her response of “cancel culture”, which many saw as characteristic of a privileged community member’s way of “dismissing any valid criticism” instead of listening.
The film has been written and directed by Subhash Kapoor (Phas Gaye Re Obama, Jolly LLB, and Jolly LLB 2). It is produced by Bhushan Kumar and also stars Saurabh Shukla, Manav Kaul, Akshay Oberoi, and Shubhrajyoti.
Madam Chief Minister is set to release on January 22.