Practically every media house covered the passing of veteran actor Shashi Kapoor – but only the mighty BBC ended up with egg on its face… All through the British Broadcasting Corporation’s tribute to the romantic icon of the Seventies, the footage played was of Kabhi Kabhie featuring Amitabh Bachchan, followed by Shashi Kapoor’s nephew, Rishi Kapoor – Shashi Kapoor’s own visage did not appear at all.
Naturally this gross oversight left many fuming, especially coming from the Beeb, which is a veritable institution, looked up to for its unbiased and accurate reporting across the world. This amateur mistake was taken as a sign of both ignorance and callousness.
In the social media universe, the reactions were instantaneous. “Hang on @bbcnews Shashi Kapoor has died not Amitabh Bachan or Rishi Kapoor, who you've weirdly used to illustrate the story,” pointed out one user, while another said, “Shocking to note @BBC insults a veteran actor Shashi Kapoor by showing clips of @SrBachchan & @chintskap whilst reporting his death [email protected] must apologize!!! Clearly they have no clue.” The BBC was pulled up by people across the world for perpetrating racial stereotypes. Like one user maintained, “@paulroyall I hope you now have a photograph of the real Shashi Kapoor? Poor man can't even rest in peace because the BBC credited another 'brown person ' with his work. #NotTheSame.” Some even used the gaffe to insist on the news agency promoting diversity in the newsroom to prevent similar errors in future.
The situation eased after news editor Paul Royall apologised for the gaffe, admitting that it wasn't up to their “usual standards”. “#BBCNewsTen is very sorry wrong images were used to mark the death of Shashi Kapoor. Not our usual standards and I apologise for any upset,” he tweeted.
News channel Times Now had a similar embarrassing brush, when they wrote 'Shashi Tharoor' instead of 'Shashi Kapoor' in a tweet about his death. Clearly confusing the veteran actor’s name with that of politician Shashi Tharoor, the reactions were swift and severe. Tongue in cheek, Tharoor tweeted, “We're getting condolence calls in the office! Reports of my demise are, if not exaggerated, at least premature.”