BBC Draws Flak for Gaffe in Tribute Video for Shashi Kapoor

The goof-up led to the channel being called "racist" on social media.


Social media users accused the BBC of racism following a gaffe in its coverage of India actor Shashi Kapoor’s death on Dec. 4. The channel BBC News 10 erroneously showed pictures of wrong people during its tribute video while Kapoor himself does not appear in the footage.

The death of the renowned actor, who acted in about 100 films, was covered by media across the world, with leading publications paying tribute to the Bollywood legend. Kapoor was 79.

The BBC channel faced backlash on social media for the video, which featured Hindi film star Amitabh Bachchan and Kapoor’s nephew, actor Rishi Kapoor. Some users pointed out that a similar mistake wouldn’t have been made if it involved a white actor.

Citizen Khan star Adil Ray was one of the first people to take to Twitter to express his grievance: “Someone at the BBC thought the brown person in this VT is the same person. Worse still neither of them are the deceased actor Huw refers to. It’s poor when it would have taken them seconds to verify. Not enough care.”

Aasmah Mir, presenter at Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4, tweeted that she was “annoyed” by the error.

Author Meena Kandaswamy made a sarcastic jibe, saying if BBC wishes to interview her they can approach her peer author and academician Priyamvada Gopal.

It wasn’t just Indians who took an exception to the mistake.

Editor Paul Royall apologized for the error and accepted the channel’s mistake. “#BBCNewsTen is very sorry wrong images were used to mark the death of Shashi Kapoor. Not our usual standards and I apologise for any upset,” he tweeted on Dec. 5.

Kapoor actor passed away at Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital in Mumbai on Dec. After his debut as leading man in the 1961 film Dharmputra, he went on to be a part of 116 films till the mid ’80s. He was honored with the Padma Bhushan in 2011 and received Indian cinema’s prestigious Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 2015.

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