Actor Anasuya Bharadwaj To Deverakonda Fans On Twitter: STOP Calling Me ‘Aunty’

Anasuya Bharadwaj 'Aunty' trend started after the Telugu actress criticised actor Vijay Deverakonda’s usage of cusswords (derogative to mothers) five years ago during the promotions of his film Arjun Reddy.

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A couple of weeks back I saw #Aunty trending on Twitter. More than 50,000 tweets had been shared with the same hashtag since August 25th.

What is so special about the English word-‘Aunty’? English vocabulary is poor, as compared to that of our rich Indian languages.

Many types of ‘Aunty’ in India

English vocabulary is poor, as compared to that of our rich Indian languages. While English just has one word- ‘Aunty’, we have several distinct words based on the type of relationship. The following are the Odia/Hindi words along with the relation-

Mausi – Mother’s sister
Piusi/Bua – Father’s sister
Khudi/Chachi – Father’s brother’s wife
Maein/Mami – Mother’s brother’s wife

Apart from the above, the relatives of the above relatives also qualify to be called as- ‘Aunty’ e.g. Mausi’s friend is Mausi too, and Maein’s sister is Mausi. Similarly, friends of above relatives also get called as ‘Mausi’!

Is it fine to call anyone ‘Mausi’ however?

I remember the character Pooja/Poo (played by Kareena Kapoor) from the Hindi movie- Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham (K3G). Poo is a smart, modern, college-going girl based in London. Her conversation with her school-going nephew in her introduction scene in K3G goes like this-

Poo: Hello, all you beautiful people!
Nephew Krishi: Wow Mausi! You are looking hot, haan!
*Poos expression changes*
Poo: By the way, Don’t call me Mausi!

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In other words, Poo (actually) Mausi does not like being called as ‘Aunty’ even by her own nephew.

This scene shows that being called ‘Aunty’ is often not welcome even from close relatives. Even after being informed, should they use the same ‘Aunty’ word?

When you call any woman ‘Aunty’!

Consider this case- You have just met a woman on the street, on public transport, on social media, or just about anywhere. You have to say or ask something which is why you start a conversation with that woman.

Do you address her as ‘Aunty’? Is it okay to randomly address any and every woman as ‘Aunty’?

If you answered yes to the above, who gave you the liberty to address any and all women as your ‘Aunty’?

Justification for calling a woman ‘Aunty’

Some people may justify why they called the woman as ‘Aunty’ by stating –

“She is married!”
“She has kid(s)!”
“She has grey hair!”
“She has wrinkles!”
“She looks old!”
“She is dressed in a Saree/Salwar-suit!”
“She must be as old as my Aunty!”
“She resembles my Aunty!”

If the woman (who has been addressed as ‘Aunty’) has an objection, then more of them join together to tease and troll.

  • They remind her ‘age’ to her – “You are 37!” (It’s relative, out not intended. Any woman is called aunty).
  • They ask her to ‘accept’ the fact that she is ‘Aunty’.
  • “Aunty is not a bad word. What’s stopping her from accepting that fact that she is aunty.”

Many think ‘Aunty’ is a very ‘respectable’ term and women who are addressed so should have no issues with it. Rather than asking the woman to accept the ‘Aunty’ address, why can’t they respect what she wants and accept her request to not address her as ‘Aunty’? How will they feel if they or their sisters/wives/friends are in similar situation?

Why was #Aunty trending on Twitter?

Anasuya Bharadwaj takes a dig at Vijay Deverakonda; the 50K+ #Aunty tweets are because Anasuya Bharadwaj is being trolled by Vijay Deverakonda’s fans on Twitter. More here and here.

Anasuya Bharadwaj ‘Aunty’ trend started after the Telugu actress criticised actor Vijay Deverakonda’s usage of cusswords (derogative to mothers) five years ago during the promotions of his film Arjun Reddy. He had urged fans to use those words. That time, some including Anusuya had criticised him for the use of such offensive language and words.

After the release of the movie Liger on August 25 this year, and its not-so-great reviews/performance at box-office, she tweeted– “Mother’s pain will not go away. Karma.. Sometimes it is difficult to come, but it is sure to come!!. “#NotHappyOnSomeonesSadness but #FaithRestored.”

Abused by trolls, but Anasuya Bharadwaj hits back

Many replied with unkind and abusive tweets and memes with ‘Aunty’, but she replied to many tweets and also issued a tweet warning- “Here by…taking a screenshot of every account abusing me..age shaming me by calling “Aunty”..involving my family into this and I will file a case and take it to a point where you will regret getting to me without any legit reason..this is my final warning..”.

When one fan questioned if a case can be filed for calling her ‘Aunty’, she replied- “Yes, a case can be filed. Assaulting a woman verbally.. outraging her modesty”.

Some men who trolled her tweeted: “What is meant by age shaming? You are Mother of a two children! Then what should all call u? You are AUNTY all will call u AUNTY becoz u are AUNTY There is no degradation in calling AUNTY It’s giving respect…. And I too condem personal attack on u AUNTY With u AUNTY”.

Some females also addressed Anasuya Bharadwaj as ‘Aunty’.

There were some sane voices too-

“It’s not fair calling aunty. Age is just a number. Mutual respect is better. Even u will get married and mother. It’s a milestone in life.. she did accomplish. Let’s accept and respect.. the word is misused to age shame her. Love you @anusuyakhasba

Anasuya has decided to take action by filing cases against the online abuse by reporting to the cyber crime cops. Using the word is like “pulling down someone by age shaming”. Her threat has had an impact as some of the abusive tweets have now been deleted.

Karma always catches up

Anasuya had posted-

To all the abusers!! Routing all your abuses to your respective Hero/Heroes !! #KarmaRules #KarmaBoomerangs

7:37 PM · Aug 25, 2022

It is true that Karma catches up.

She feels that Deverakonda got back his Karma for hurting the dignity of mothers.

Anusuya Bharadwaj stood up for mothers. Why is that wrong?

When “hero” Vijay Deverakonda had used those bad words, why was not he trolled?

In the Mahabharata, stalwarts like Bhishma, Dronacharya etc met a painful fate. They had earned the same as they did not protest/condemn/speak up while a woman, Draupadi’s modesty was being outraged right in front of them; rather they were mute spectators while she was getting publicly humiliated.

Time to stand up.

What sort of a hero are you, Tollywood superstar Vijay Deverakonda? Some of the users have posted very nasty and sexist comments for Anasuya. And all ‘heroes’ are silently watching the fun? Shouldn’t a real hero stand up and do what is right?

Earlier, when asked “what if Liger flops“, Vijay Deverakonda had said- “Had you asked me this question a few years back, I would have replied with anger…. However, with the kind of love that I have received in the last few days, it would be a disrespectful to that if I react angrily to such small things around. I want to remember the love.”

Public and audience will remember the love and respect too if the heroes and influencers (including Deverakonda) give the following public statement to their fans and followers- “Respect women. Stop calling every woman as ‘Aunty’”.

How fair is ‘Aunty’ usage? Why not use– ‘Madam’ or ‘Ji’ (after name/surname) or Madamji?

Male actors above 35 years of age are never called- ‘Uncle’. Then, why should actresses, or for that matter, any female irrespective of her profession or status or looks etc. be called ‘Aunty’? How about addressing unknown/unrelated women as “Madam” instead? Adding a “ji” after their name and surname will also be a respectable address.  Or, stating “Madamji” just like the hero (Sunny Deol) of the Hindi movie- Gadar.

Meanwhile, the  actress has been replying, quoting trolls and sharing the hashtags- #SayNOtoOnlineAbuse #StopCyberBullying #StopAgeShaming.

In an earlier tweet (before the ‘Aunty’ issue), she had said that she is a- “A Human First, A Woman Next”

Note for all- Not all humans are ‘Aunty’. Accept and respect this reality.

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About the Author

Anita Sabat

A creative explorer. Believes in miracles and the power of words. Independent researcher, PhD, writer, cultural activist, social worker. Orange Flower Award 2019 for Best Use of Twitter for Social Impact- Runner-Up. Geographical Indications ( read more...

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