Discriminating someone based on their skin tone or complexion is as regressive and unfair as it can get, but if author and filmmaker Vivek Agnihotri is to be believed, Karan Thapar – celebrity journalist and television host enumerated among ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ crowd – is guilty of indulging in this disgraceful behaviour.
In his much talked about book Urban Naxals, Vivek has written about this incident that took some time in the late 90s. Vivek was planning to diversify from ad filmmaking to making television shows in those times, and he got a lucky break when Anupam Kher decided to produce a TV serial titled ‘Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum’ to be directed by him.
The pilot episode of the serial was approved by the Hindustan Times group’s television channel Home TV, which was then headed by Karan Thapar. However, things couldn’t move further after Thapar’s first meeting with Vivek, for which, Vivek writes, he had to wait for hours only to meet a person in flashy clothes who shocked him with his backward and discriminatory demands.
Thapar apparently liked the serial but didn’t like the casting. He demanded that Pallavi Joshi is dropped, who had acted in many movies and TV shows by then and had even won a national award for acting.
“But she is dark. I want someone fair,” Karan Thapar told Vivek Agnihotri, as recounted by Vivek in the book.
The same incident was vividly recalled by Vivek in a conversation with OpIndia’s Rahul Roushan. Talking exclusively to OpIndia, Vivek further revealed that the incident happened at a time he and Pallavi Joshi had not started seeing each other (Vivek and Pallavi are currently married couple), and the despicable comment by Karan Thapar made Vivek value her even more.
“Had this (incident) not happened, perhaps me and Pallavi might not even have got married,” Vivek told OpIndia, “Suddenly I looked at Pallavi from a different lens. Then I said (to myself) let me notice this person.”
Vivek further said that Karan Thapar like ‘liberals’ were not rare. There are many who harbour the most regressive ideas while preaching the opposite to the rest of the world; many of them being in the media and entertainment industry.
You can watch and listen to the conversation between Vivek Agnihotri and Rahul Roushan in the YouTube clip below. In the over an hour-long conversation, Vivek explains why and how he wrote the book that primarily is about making of the movie Buddha In A Traffic Jam, but also touches upon various other issues like politics, society, media, education, filmmaking, and more.
The conversation includes discussion on the book theme, the menace of urban naxals, usefulness (or lack of it) of Twitter debates, why the ‘right wing’ does not appear united in India, and other topics including OpIndia and its future: