Reality show host makes 'racist' comments on Assam contestant, sparks outrage

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma took to Twitter and said “racist rhetoric” against the Guwahati contestant was unacceptable

Updated - November 16, 2021 04:28 pm IST

Published - November 16, 2021 03:03 pm IST - Mumbai

Raghav Juyal. Screengrab: Twitter/@TheRaghav_Juyal

Raghav Juyal. Screengrab: Twitter/@TheRaghav_Juyal

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on November 16 said racism should be condemned “unequivocally” after a contestant from Guwahati on a dance reality show was subjected to racist rhetoric.

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In a clip of Colors TV ’s “Dance Deewane 3” that has gone viral on social media, the show’s host-dancer Raghav Juyal is seen introducing a contestant from the North-east while speaking gibberish, seemingly to mock Mandarin, the language spoken by the Chinese people.

When the judges, including actor Madhuri Dixit-Nene and filmmaker Remo D’Souza, ask him what he is trying to do, the host replies as he casually makes a racist remark on the young contestant, Gunjan Sinha.

“People might not be able to understand her Chinese but they surely understand her dance,” he is heard saying in the 40-second clip.

The third season of the show, which went on air earlier this year, concluded last month.

The Chief Minister took to Twitter and said the “racist rhetoric” against the contestant was unacceptable.

“It has come to my notice that a popular reality show host has used racist rhetoric against a young participant from Guwahati. This is shameful and totally unacceptable. Racism has no place in our country and we should all condemn it unequivocally,” Mr. Sarma tweeted.

“Dance Deewane” was judged by Ms. Dixit-Nene and choreographers Tushar Kalia and Dharmesh Yelande. Mr. D’Souza featured on the said episode as a special guest.

Assam Police Special Director General L.R. Bishnoi has also urged the cyber cell to take cognisance.

"HQ Cyber Cell team @assampolice pls look into it! Sheer ignorance on the part of those involved!" Mr. Bishnoi tweeted.

All Assam Students' Union (AASU) chief advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya also expressed his anguish and tweeted, "We have time & again been treated as objects of ridicule for not looking 'Indian' enough. Discrimination based on racial profiling is tormenting." "NE is not a repository of rich resources or exotic culture alone.@ColorsTV & @TheRaghav_Juyal's racist slurs are condemned & punishable," he added.

Netizens have condemned the incident and demanded an unconditional apology as well as police action against the show and the host.

Host clarifies, says sorry

While there has been no official statement from the channel as yet, Mr. Juyal (30) shared a video on Instagram in an attempt to “clarify the misunderstanding”.

The host said he wanted to share “the story” behind the small clip that is circulating on the Internet for the sake of his mental health and the people who know him.

“When the children come on the show, we ask them what their hobbies are. Gunjan said ‘I can talk in Chinese, I have this talent’. And we used to laugh at the things children say. When we asked her to speak Chinese, she started talking in gibberish. From there onwards, we would ask her to speak in ‘Chinese’ on every episode or ask her to speak in the language of another planet!” he said in the video.

According to Mr. Juyal, in the final episodes he introduced Gunjan in the same gibberish Chinese ahead of her acts on the show.

“You will not call me racist if you’d see the whole show,” he added.

The host, who has starred in films like “ABCD 2” and “Street Dancer 3D”, said he has a strong connection to the North-east.

“I have my family in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. I have friends in Nagaland with whom I’ve grown up in boarding school. I’m someone who tries to show things politically correct and who takes a stand on injustice and racism. Instead, I often get trolled whenever I take a stand for a religion, caste, culture or creed,” he said.

Towards the end of the video, Mr. Juyal said he apologises to those whose sentiments were hurt.

“I’m so sorry if I’ve hurt your sentiments. It was neither my or Colors channel’s motives that something like this happens. But before making a clip viral and judging, I’d really want you to watch the whole show,” he added.

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