Creators of “Made in Heaven 2” deny using Dalit novelist Yashica Dutt’s life story as a part of their web series.

By: Priyal Joshi

On Thursday, the “Made in Heaven” team on Prime Video strongly denied using author Yashica Dutt’s personal narrative for one of the episodes in the second season of the show. Dutt expressed her heartbreak at her life narrative and efforts as a Dalit activist being utilized in the series “without permission or credit” in an Instagram post on Monday. In a joint statement, the co-directors of season two, Alankrita Shrivastava and Neeraj Ghaywan, as well as show creators Zoya Akhtar and Reema Kagti, denied any connection between the episode starring Radhika Apte and Dutt’s life.

“We are deeply disturbed with the misleading reports and comments in context of author Yashica Dutt claiming formal credit for her ‘contribution’ to Made In Heaven, a show set around wedding planners and remarkable brides who challenge prejudices deeply ingrained in our society,” they said.

The second season’s fifth episode, titled “The heart skipped a beat”, features Apte as Pallavi Menke, an outspoken Dalit personality, hailing from Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, who studied law at Columbia. Menke is an academic who teaches at Columbia and is likely to be tenured as a professor.

Director  Ghaywan got appreciation for the episode’s portrayal of a Dalit character who is self-assured in claiming her identity. “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. None of the above is drawn from Yashica Dutt’s life or her book – ‘Coming Out As Dalit’.

“We categorically deny any claim that Ms. Dutt’s life or work was appropriated by us,” the statement read. In the episode, Pallavi, like Dutt, is shown to be an author of a fictional book called “Denied”. The creators said that the mention of the series’ fictional book is a “hat-tip” to a number of similar works, including Dutt’s “Coming Out As Dalit” as well as “Ants Among Elephants” by Sujatha Gidla, “Caste Matters” by Suraj Yengde, and the Tarshi piece by Sumit Baudh.

“We have immense respect for them and their experiences and their work that has admirably shed light on caste based discrimination. Through his previous work and this episode, Neeraj Ghaywan has added to the discourse. “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 truly bigger than us,” the statement read. In her Instagram post, Dutt praised Dalit filmmakers like Ghaywan for revolutionising “our cinematic language” by “showcasing unapologetic Dalits in Bollywood”.