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Ketaki Chitale — why Marathi actor booked for ‘trolling’ Sharad Pawar often ends up in news

Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale is in police custody till 18 May for sharing a ‘derogatory’ Facebook post allegedly targeting NCP chief Sharad Pawar, calling him a mosquito, among other things.

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Mumbai: As she wrapped up a 16-minute podcast on trolling in September 2021, Marathi actor Ketaki Chitale had this to say to her followers: “Trolling is legally a crime and people can sue you, take you to court for bullying and trolling online, and on that note, thekelfiegirl excuses herself for today.”

Eight months later, thekelfiegirl — as Chitale refers to herself on social media — is doing the rounds of courts, facing multiple cases for allegedly trolling Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar by sharing a ‘derogatory’ poem on her Facebook page Friday.

The poem, purportedly written by an advocate named Nitin Bhave, refers to an “80-year-old man Pawar”, calling him a “mosquito”, saying he is someone who “hates Brahmins”, and for whom “hell is waiting”.

During her court hearing Sunday, an unfazed Chitale (29), while arguing her own case, defended her right to free speech by refusing to apologise for sharing the post. And that, in a nutshell, is how she has always been — bold, defiant, outspoken, and never too far from the next controversy, sources from the Marathi film and television industry told ThePrint.

Chitale is in police custody till 18 May. 

Marathi actor Megha Ghadghe, who is also the Thane unit president of the NCP’s film and culture cell, slammed Chitale as an “attention-seeking girl” in a video statement shared by the party.

“Speaking like this about such a personality is definitely an indication of mental illness. Child, Ketaki, let me tell you, if you really have such problems, you desperately need meditation,” Ghadghe said.

Marathi actor Asavari Joshi, who is the Maharashtra deputy head of the NCP’s film and culture cell, said in the same video statement, “Everyone expresses their feelings on social media, whether those of anger, love, happiness, insult. But, there has to be a limit to it. If people think they can post whatever they want on social media, it is wrong… Our culture doesn’t teach us to be this way.” 

Meanwhile, BJP Maharashtra vice-president Chitra Wagh came out in support of Chitale, saying that law is the same for all and action must also be taken against those who trolled the Marathi actor.

“There should be prompt action and cases filed against those who openly abuse Ketaki Chitale in very foul language, give her death threats,” Wagh wrote on Twitter.

Which brings us to the question — who really is Ketaki Chitale?

Also Read: Sharad Pawar calls for repeal of sedition law, says it’s misused against critics of govt

‘Thekelfiegirl’ and her controversies

Chitale has acted in a few Marathi serials that aired on Star Pravah, Zee5 and Sony TV, notable among them being ‘Tujha Majha Breakup’, ‘Ambat Goad’, and ‘Tujhya Vachun Karmena’. 

She was reportedly dropped from a Marathi serial, ‘Laxmi Sadaiv Mangalam’, over altercations she had with people on the set. At the time, Chitale had gone on record to say that she was shown the door because producers were intolerant towards her epilepsy, a charge that the producers denied.

Chitale, who has lived with the neurological disorder since childhood, calls herself ‘Epilepsy Warrior Queen’ on social media and says she wants to spread awareness about the condition that she shares with an estimated 10 million Indians.

The 29-year-old regularly mocks some of the fans who reach out to her on social media with unsolicited advice, at times chiding them for their incorrect grammar. She posts these interactions on her Instagram account with the hashtag ‘Moronsforfans’.

But her interactions in the virtual world have landed Chitale in trouble more than once.

One such incident dates back to 2019 when Chitale posted a video about epilepsy in Hindi, and not Marathi. The actor was trolled for her choice of language, and responded to one of the trolls by linking them with Chhatrapati Shivaji, prompting two Maratha outfits to file a police case against her for hurting their sentiments by unnecessarily dragging the Maratha warrior king’s name in the matter.

She later even met the then Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, demanding action against those who trolled her at the time.

In 2020, Chitale was booked under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, for allegedly saying that Buddhists travel to Mumbai “for free” on 6 December every year to pay their respects to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his death anniversary.

That same year, Chitale invited the ire of Maratha groups for supporting stand-up comedian Agrima Joshua, who had to issue a public apology for making a joke about the proposed Shivaji memorial in the Arabian Sea. In a social media post, Chitale had said that some people get riled up just hearing Shivaji’s name, adding that such people have little intelligence to understand the issue in the first place.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

Also Read: Shiv Sena comes up with ‘roar of true Hindutva’, to hold mega Mumbai rally to counter BJP, MNS


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