"Deadpool" actor Karan Soni is the latest celebrity to react on the ongoing Apu controversy, saying the fact that a white guy has voiced for an Indian-origin character in "The Simpsons" "offends" him.
One of the longest running animated shows on American TV, "The Simpsons" came under intense scrutiny after Hari Kondabolu's documentary "The Problem with Apu" highlighted the stereotypical depiction of Indian immigrants in Hollywood.
"I completely understand why there is a controversy about it in 2018. Because, what offends me and what people are offended about is that it feels wrong to have a white actor (Hank Azaria) do the voice of an Indian character. It just doesn't feel like right.
"Now there are a lot of Indian actors in Hollywood. So, people are like 'why are we having a white person voice an Indian?'. I really think that if 'The Simpson' had started in 2018 and this character was in the show, then they would have 100 per cent got a brown actor to do the voice and not hired a white actor for it," Karan told PTI.
The sitcom recently addressed the criticism over Apu's characterisation in the episode "No Good Read Goes Unpunished". However, it failed to pacify the viewers and was slammed on social media for its tone-deaf response to the controversy.
Following the controversy, Azaria, who voices Apu Nahasapeemapetilon on the series, had also offered to step away from the role.
"In the defence of 'The Simpsons', this show has been going on for 20 something years and I don't know if there was any Indian actor then who could play that part," Karan added.
The 29-year-old actor believes if an Indian actor had played the part then Apu's character would have more to offer then just being a stereotypical representation.
"I wouldn't be offended if an Indian actor played it because they can add something from their own life experiences. Even if they are from first generation Indian-American, it becomes more genuine because it comes from someone who is from India. It becomes less of a stereotype," he said.
Looking at the increase in the number of Indian-origin artistes working in Hollywood and on American television, Karan, is optimistic about the representation of people of colour on-screen.
"When I came here there was only Kal Penn. Now there are like so many. I think it is a huge step forward. And not just for Indian people but for all ethnicities. I think a lot of things are changing and I feel happy about it. I think we are moving forward and not going back. I am happy that change is happening. I am happy to be small part of it, " he said.