Siddharth Image Credit: Instagram/Siddharth

South Indian actor Siddharth, who was slammed for his seemingly sexist joke in response to a politically charged tweet by badminton champion Saina Nehwal, wrote an open letter addressed to her on January 12 apologising profusely for his ‘rude joke’.

On January 10, Nehwal in a tweet expressed her concern over a recent protocol breach involving Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Siddharth clapped back.

In his open letter posted on Twitter, he wrote: “Dear Saina, I want to apologise to you for my rude joke that I wrote as a response to a tweet of yours, a few days ago. I may disagree with you on many things but even my disappointment or anger when I read your tweet, cannot justify my tone and words. I know I have more grace in me than that. As for the joke... If a joke needs to be explained, then it wasn’t a very good joke to begin with. Sorry about a joke that didn’t land.”

This is the second time that Siddharth has explained his problematic tweet, which has sparked outrage and disgust. Since the exchange, the actor has been heavily trolled. The National Commission For Women in India also demanded that his Twitter account be suspended as a penalty.

Following his post, Siddharth had tweeted he never meant any disrespect, but the open letter written was more specific. He expressed his hope that Nehwal would find it in herself to put this episode behind her.

Saina Nehwal

“I, however must insist my word play and humour had none of the malicious intent that so many people from all quarters have attributed to it. I am a staunch feminist ally and I assure you there was no gender implied in my tweet and certainly no intent to attack you as a woman ... I hope we can put this behind us and that you will accept my letter. You will always be my Champion. Honestly, Siddharth,” he concluded.

Trouble began when Nehwal tweeted concern over a recent incident involving the Indian Prime Minister last week when his convoy was stopped for around 20 minutes on a flyover in Punjab’s Bathinda.

As soon as her tweet was posted, actor Siddharth posted a mocking tweet, while thanking her for playing protector of India. He also added: ‘Shame on you #Rihanna’, alluding to Nehwal’s silence when it came to farmer protests in India and for her selective outrage, which had international celebrities such as the American singer post concern on social media.

So far, Nehwal hasn’t responded to his open letter. But a day earlier, Nehwal expressed her disappointment at the actor’s social media behaviour.

In an interview with India Today, Nehwal said: “I am not sure what he meant. I used to like him as an actor but this was not nice. He can express himself with better words but I guess it’s Twitter and you remain noticed with such words and comments,” said Nehwal.

Several celebrities including South Indian singer Chinmayi Sripada supported Nehwal and rejected actor Siddharth’s defensive tweet.

“This is really crass Siddharth. You just contributed to what a lot of us women are fighting against,” she tweeted.