Hank Azaria, voice of Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, an Indian shopkeeper in The Simpsons TV show, said he was ready to step aside from the role. He was a guest in The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. “I think the most important thing is to listen to Indian people and their experience with it,” Azaria said, reported Variety. “I really want to see Indian, South Asian writers in the writers room…including how Apu is voiced or not voiced. I’m perfectly willing to step aside. It just feels like the right thing to do to me.”
Indian origin comedian Hari Kondabolu, in his documentary The Problem with Apu, argued that the character perpetuates negative stereotypes. The Simpsons features the South Asian character, who has had to grapple with the troubling stereotype of a convenience store clerk with an exaggerated, fake Indian accent since the show's existence. Apu was voiced by Hank Azaria.
Tweeted The Simpson's executive producer Al Jean: "I truly appreciate all the responses pro and con. Will continue to try and find an answer that is popular and more important(ly) right."
A previous episode of the the The Simpsons addressed the criticism that Apu represents a racist stereotype through a line from the character Lisa, delivered while Marge reads her a bedtime story.
"Something that started decades ago and was applauded and inoffensive is now politically incorrect. What can you do?" said Marge, another character from The Simpsons.
Lisa then looks over at a framed photograph of Apu, which has the line: "Don't have a cow!" written on it.
Marge responds: "Some things will be dealt with at a later date,"
To which, Lisa says: "If at all."
Though The Simpsons episode was well-received by some, many felt the attempt was half-hearted and underdone.
(Inputs from agencies)