The makers of Made In Heaven have addressed claims by writer Yashica Dutt that a character on Season 2 of the show is based on her and that credit is due. In a post matching Ms Dutt’s in length, Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti, Alankrita Srivastava and episode director Neeraj Ghaywan denied that the Dalit bride played by Radhika Apte was drawn from Yashica Dutt and her life. For context, Pallavi (played by Radhika) shares a backstory similar to Ms Dutt’s – both attended Columbia University, wrote a book embracing their Dalit identity and discussed their grandmothers’ jobs as cleaners. It should be noted that Neeraj Ghaywan acknowledged Ms Dutt and her book in an Instagram post explaining that a particular scene in the episode was inspired by events in her life.
The rebuttal was shared by Zoya Akhtar who is one of the writers and producers of Made In Heaven, a show about wedding planners which deals with a different wedding in each episode. “We are deeply disturbed with the misleading reports and comments in context of author Yashica Dutt claiming formal credit for her contributions to Made In Heaven, a show set around wedding planners and remarkable brides who challenge prejudices deeply ingrained in our society, ” the note read, “In Episode 5- ‘The Heart Skips A Beat,’ we peek into the life of Pallavi Menke a fictional character. Pallavi Menke is a Mharashtrian Ambedkarite from the Vidarbha region who studied law at Columbia University. She grew up using a caste-neutral surname and was called Pallavi Kumar. She has now reclaimed her original surname, Menke – a signifier of her true identity as a member of the Dalit community. Pallavi Menke is an academic who teaches at Columbia and is likely to be tenured as a professor. She is a recipient of an Amnesty Award. All of this earns her the respect of her prospective in-laws, who belong to a different caste. At the same time, her in-laws think her identity as a Dalit is better brushed under the carpet.”
“The central conflict of the episode is whether Pallavi should fight to have the wedding rituals that are a signifier of her identity, or not,” the note explained.
“None of the above is drawn from Yashica Dutt’s life or her book- Coming Out As Dalit.’ We categorically deny any claim that Mrs Dutt’s life or work was appropriated by us,” read the note, “In the episode Pallavi Menke mentions her grandmother’s back story. This narrative of cleaning toilets was included because it is a common history that came up recurrently in our research of the community. Pallavi Menke’s fictional book, “Denied” is a hat-tip to several books like Ants Among Elephants by Sujatha Gidia, Caste Matters by Suraj Yengde, Coming Out As Dalit by Yashica Dutt and the Tarshi article by Sumit Baudh.”
“We made this show with sincerity, passion and a beating heart and are overwhelmed with the love we have received. We will continue to platform stories and voices that are bigger than us,” the note ended.
Take a look at the post below:
The controversy erupted when writer Yashica Dutt, author of a book titled Coming Out As Dalit, argued publicly that Radhika Apte’s Pallavi is a version of herself and called out the makers for failing to credit her.
In her extensive note, Yashica Dutt explained how thrilling it was for her to see Dalit representation on screen, calling it a “cinematic triumph”. However, she also noted how she was left distressed over being ignored in the credits despite Pallaví’s story bearing uncanny resemblances to her own. For example, like Mrs Dutt, Pallavi too studied at Columbia, wrote a book on the subject of “coming out” etc.
Just as Pallavi reclaimed her power in Made In Heaven, Yashica Dutt wrote about reclaiming her “worth and contribution to the discourse and history.”
In her note, she wrote: “Our lives are so crazy, they should make a movie about it.” We knew that would never happen. There were no chracters on screen who were humanized beyond their suffering. Before I came out as Dalit in 2016, there was no vocabulary to identify the process of revealing your Dalitness after hiding it for years and owning it with pride either. Today in 2023 there is both. Dalit directors like Neeraj Ghaywan have revolutionized our cinematic language by showcasing unapologetic Dalits in Bollywood, a tradition that has an even longer history in Southern cinema. The Heart Skipped A Beat, the fifth episode of Amazon Prime’s Made In Heaven is no less a acinematic triumph when it comes to showcasing what it truly looks like for a Dalit woman to take her power back from this casteist society.”
Yashica Dutt signed off her post with these words, “Let’s acknowledge the Dalit Labour and set a precedent for giving credit where it’s due instead of the now common practice in the streaming world of ‘taking it without permission first, apologizing later.” Yashica Dutt wrote in the caption, “It’s been an overwhelming few days. Seeing my likeness on screen without warning or permission was a roller-coaster starting from thrill and excitement to sadness and loss. I continue to support @neeraj.ghaywan’s excellent work, whether now with Made in Heaven or Geeli Pucchi before. But this needs to be addressed.”
See her post here:
Neeraj Ghaywan’s post from a few days ago cited both Yashica Dutt’s book as well as Dalit author Sujatha Gidla’s Ants Among Elephants as part of his research. “Thanks to @yashicadutt and her book (Coming Out as a Dalit) which made the term “coming out” become part of the popular culture lexicon for owning one’s Dalit identity. This inspired Pallavi’s interview section in the episode. All of their work has set a precedent for me to carry forward. The love this episode has received is a validation for all of us mentioned in this post who have been battling prejudice. And I hope, someday, people will really see through the disparity when they look at the matrimonial section of a newspaper. Or offer their unconditional empathy to a friend, a colleague, a partner, or even someone around who is struggling with their identity,” he wrote about Ms Dutt.
Here’s his post:
Directed by Zoya Akhtar, Alankrita Shrivastava, Neeraj Ghaywan and Nitya Mehra, Made In Heaven‘s cast cast includes Arjun Mathur, Sobhita Dhulipala, Jim Sarbh, Kalki Koechlin, Shashank Arora, Shivani Raghuvanshi, Mona Singh, Trinetra Haldar and Vijay Raaz.