Filmmaker Neeraj Ghaywan opens up about the praise he received for portraying Dalit characters on screen and showcasing a Dalit wedding in Zoya Akhtar’s hit Amazon Prime Video series
Neeraj Ghaywan, director of Episode 5 of Made in Heaven season 2
Last Updated: 09.25 AM, Aug 28, 2023
The second season of Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti’s hit Amazon Prime Video web series, Made In Heaven, has been making headlines since its release on August 10. Author Yashica Dutt accused the makers of copying her ideas and life story in Episode 5 of the series that was directed by Neeraj Ghaywan. In a recent interview, the director has finally spoken about the controversy and the response that he received online.
Reacting to all the brouhaha about the episode, Neeraj said that they should have called the wedding ceremony a Buddhist wedding instead of a Dalit wedding. “When the response to MIH (Made in Heaven) came in, something inside me changed. I received heartfelt reactions from people who thought that they were finally seen and heard. Their trauma was acknowledged. The one thing that I want to humbly acknowledge is that we called it a Dalit wedding. That was wrong. It should have been called a Buddhist wedding,” he told Bombay Times.
Episode 5 of the Made In Heaven Season 2 features Radhika Apte as an ivy league educated Dalit woman named Pallavi Menke. In response to her in-laws demanding a Hindu wedding, Pallavi asks for a Dalit wedding, which causes a rift in her personal life.
Speaking about the series, Neeraj said, "The episode handles this conflict. I don’t know how this is a homage to any one person. Even if you claim ownership to the term ‘coming out’, can you claim ownership to the act? So many people have hidden and then finally proclaimed their identities due to the fear of being judged. I hid my identity for 35 years, then suddenly spoke about it."
He was reacting to a claim by author Yashica Dutt, who demanded her due recognition as she said that her life inspired the storyline of the episode. Recently, in an Instagram story, the author had said that her book, Coming Out as Dalit: A Memoir, was the inspiration for the episode directed by Neeraj but that she wasn’t given her due credit. She also accused the makers of not crediting her for using the term ‘coming out’ in reference to Dalits.
The makers have denied her claims, saying that the episode was inspired from shared history of many Dalits.
Neeraj Ghaywan is also the director of films like Masaan, and the short film Geeli Pucchi from the Ajeeb Daastaans anthology.
Made In Heaven Season 2 is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.