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.”
— Media Diversified (@WritersofColour) December 4, 2017
RIP Shashi Kapoor 🙏🙏🙏 pic.twitter.com/XMT4QJCy53
— GABBAR (@Gabbar_food) December 4, 2017
Aasmah Mir, presenter at Saturday Live on BBC Radio 4, tweeted that she was “annoyed” by the error.
I’m really annoyed about the BBC Shashi Kapoor thing. DOES ANYONE GIVE A DAMN? If you do, please tweet the editor @paulroyall
— Aasmah Mir (@AasmahMir) December 4, 2017
Shashi Kapoor was a megastar: the error of showing pictures of 2 other actors is appalling & insulting, particularly in the context of a story about death.
— Harini Iyengar (@Harini_Iyengar) December 5, 2017
Author Meena Kandaswamy made a sarcastic jibe, saying if BBC wishes to interview her they can approach her peer author and academician Priyamvada Gopal.
For the BBC, Amitabh Bachchan can stand in for Shashi Kapoor and a Vietnamese filmmaker can substitute for a Japanese scientist–so, I hereby ask that all (possible) future requests from the broadcaster about my fiction & poetry can be addressed to my compatriot @PriyamvadaGopal https://t.co/1WyJELmK8L
— meena kandasamy (@meenakandasamy) December 5, 2017
It wasn’t just Indians who took an exception to the mistake.
— Graeme (@Lurganexile) December 4, 2017
I was sitting there thinking “why the hell are they showing classic footage of Amitabh @SrBachchan“….and then realised that the person responsible for obituaries @BBCNews may indeed not be able to tell the difference…
— Katherine Schofield (@katherineschof8) December 4, 2017
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.
#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.
— Paul Royall (@paulroyall) December 4, 2017
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.