|Chetan Kumar Ahimsa Chetan Kumar- Twitter
|Actor, Public Intellectual, Humanitarian, Activist
|Physical Stats & More
|in centimeters- 168 cm
in meters- 1.68 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 7”
|Film (Kannada): Aa Dinagalu (2007) as Chethan Naayak (lead role)
|Date of Birth
|24 February 1983 (Thursday)
|Age (as of 2023)
|Chicago, Illinois, USA
|Chicago, Illinois, USA
|Marist High School, Chicago
|Yale University, US
|South Asian Studies with an emphasis on Comparative Theatre from Yale University Deccan Herald
|Chetan Kumar and his wife, Megha S, agreed to have a court marriage because they did not believe in religious rituals. News18
|He advocates Egalitarianism. Chetan Kumar- Twitter He refers to himself as Ambedkarite, Chetan Kumar- Facebook i.e., people who follow the philosophy of the Indian polymath, social reformer, human right advocate B. R. Ambedkar. He expressed his beliefs in a tweet, which read,
"We are neither Hindu nor Mussalman; we are egalitarians. We are neither BJP nor Congress; we are alternative forces. There’s a big ongoing controversy. We are neither kesari shawls nor hijabs; we are blue shawls. Transformation is alternative.”
|• Slammed for derogatory remarks on Brahmins (2021): An FIR was filed by the Karnataka State Brahmin Development Board (KSBDB) with the Bengaluru Police against Chetan Kumar for his critical remarks on Brahmanism, which he expressed via a tweet in 2021. The Hindu The KSBDB alleged that the actor had hurt religious beliefs and made imputations prejudicial to national integration. In response to the complaints lodged against him, the actor stated that he was primarily highlighting anti-caste ideas of B. R. Ambedkar. His tweet read,
"While all are born as equals, to say that Brahmins alone are highest & all others are low as Untouchables is sheer nonsense. It is a big hoax"
• Arrested an objectionable tweet against a Karnataka High Court judge (2022): On February 16 2022, Chetan Kumar was arrested after being charged under sections 505 (2) (statements conducing to public mischief) and 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of the peace) of the IPC due to a tweet posted by Chetan against the Karnataka High Court judge Justice Krishna Dixit. The HC judge was part of a bench hearing the batch of petitions for the 2022 Karnataka Hijab row. In the tweet, Chetan reffred to a 2020 order in which Justice Krishna Dixit observed that it is unbecoming of Indian woman to sleep after rape and granted advance bail to a rape accused. Chetan's tweet read, "Justice Krishna Dixit made such disturbing comments in a rape case. Now this same judge is determining whether #hijabs are acceptable or not in govt schools. Does he have the clarity required?” Hindustan Times
• 'Derogatory' remark on Kantara: In October 2022, Karnataka Police registered an FIR against him for allegedly hurting religious sentiments while commenting on the tradition of 'Bhoota Kola' depicted in the Kannada movie 'Kantara.' In his comment, he said that 'Bhoota Kola' was not Hindu. India Today
• Arrested over 'Hindutva built on lies' tweet: On 21 March 2023, Bengaluru police arrested him over his tweet "Hindutva is built on lies." While citing the examples of Savarkar, the Babri mosque, and Uri Gowda and Nanje Gowda, Chethan said that Hindutva was an ideology "built on lies." India Today
• OCI Status Cancelled: In April 2023, the Union government cancelled his the Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status with immediate effect because of alleged ‘anti-national’ activities and derogatory comments against judges. The Wire
|Relationships & More
|Megha S (2015-2020)
|2 February 2020
|Megha S (Engineer, Activist)
|Father- Basavlinga Amar Kumar (surgeon)
Mother- Mangala Kumar (anesthesiologist)
|Brother- Ashok Kumar (a UW Madison graduate, Oxford University PhD, and Fulbright Scholar, who works as an economics teacher at Birkbeck, University of London, UK)
Some Lesser Known Facts About Chetan Kumar
- Chetan Kumar is an Indian-American film actor, public intellectual, and social and political activist. The sandalwood actor is best known for appearing in the Kannada-language films Aa Dinagalu (2007), Myna (2013), and Noorondu Nenapu (2017).
- At the age of 24, Chetan’s father, who hails from Karnataka, moved to Chicago to pursue his surgical residency at Cook County Hospital. Meanwhile, his mother did her residency at John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County and Mount Sinai Hospital, Chicago, and became a board-certified anesthesiologist.
- Social and political activism is in Chetan’s blood. During the colonialism period in India, his grandfather, Siddalingappa Kumar, actively participated in the country’s freedom struggle and was also jailed for it.
- His parents assured Chetan stayed connected to his roots and speaks Kannada fluently despite living in Chicago. Therefore, while growing up in Chicago, Chetan visited Karnataka, India, every year during his summer vacations. In an interview, while recalling his childhood memories of Karnataka, he said,
While in Karnataka, I travelled to historic locales, engaged with local denizens, spent time in villages, attended plays and performances, ate mangoes and kulfis, interacted with impoverished children…”
- Since childhood, he was passionate about performing arts. In an interview, he said,
Born and raised in the US, I would see art as a way of staying in touch with my Indian roots and finding meaning through stage-audience interactions. I would do stage performances in Kannada mono-acting, classical/jazz saxophone playing, story-telling and dancing across US.”
- As a child, he was fascinated by the stories of the Indian epic ‘Mahabharata,’ which were narrated to him by his grandparents. Once, during his childhood, he portrayed the role of his favourite character, Bheema, in a play.
- Apart from performing arts, he also did swimming and played tennis during his high school days. Additionally, he joined his high school marching band as a saxophonist.
- After graduating from Yale University with a distinction in 2005, he relocated to India to pursue grassroots Kannada theatre. He received a Fulbright scholarship (2005-2006) to study gender and Kannada theatre for which he worked in conjunction with the National School of Drama, Bengaluru.
- Thereafter, he extensively travelled throughout Karnataka working with numerous theatre groups and acting in a few Kannada plays.
- He came into the limelight with the 2007 crime drama film ‘Aa Dinagalu’ in which Chetan played the role of a business magnate who struggles to protect his girlfriend, Mallika, from an underworld don hired by his conspiring father to get rid of Mallika. For his performance in the film, Chetan won the title of Best Debut Actor at the Udaya Film Awards (2008).
- After his commercially flop film ‘Birugaali’ (2009), Chetan gained popularity after playing the lead role of Satya in the 2013 Indian Kannada language romance drama film ‘Myna.’ Based on a real-life incident, the film follows Satya, who, after being caught and charged with 34 serial murder cases, narrates his life story. The film earned numerous accolades including the title of Best Film at Tamil Nadu State Awards and South Indian International Movie Awards in 2014.
- In 2013, Chetan lent his support for the rehabilitation of Endosulfan victims by joining Endosulfan Virodhi Horatha Samiti. The organisation has been vigorously fighting against the sale of toxic agrichemical Endosulfan pesticide. Chetan, alongside other protestors, demanded 24-hour medical care and a monthly compensation increase for Endosulfan victims from the government. The protestors were successfully able to claim financial and medical relief worth Rs. 50 crore.
- A humanitarian, Chetan has established an NGO called Chetan Foundation. In an interview, while talking about his passion for social work, he said,
I came to India, not for money, not to become a film star, which I haven’t, not for any kind of name, I came to do social work…Social work and activism is where my passion lies, to improve the lives of people.”
- Since 2005, he has been working as a teacher at Vinayaka Gnana Vidya Shale near Mysore, where he teaches critical thinking and logical skills to children.
- In the 2017 Indian Kannada collegiate film ‘Noorondu Nenapu,’ Chetan played the protagonist Shreyas Bahadur. The film dates back to the 1980s and follows Shreyas through his college years when he befriends the most notorious gang in his college.
- In the 2017 Kannada action thriller film ‘Athiratha,’ Chetan played the role of a TV journalist named Akash, who, after getting arrested in connection to a banking scandal, must prove his innocence.
- Other acting credits under his belt include the Kannada films Suryakaanti (2010), Dashamukha (2012), and Ranam (2021).
- In 2018, Chetan stood by the Diddalli Tribals to protest against the police and the local administration who had illegally evacuated the Kuduva tribals living in the Diddalli forest in Madikeri for generations. Through intensive protest the tribals successfully claimed 528 homes, built by the government, to rehabilitate 3,000 evicted Adivasis in Basavanahalli, Karnataka.
- In the same year, Chetan provided his assistance to the people of the Lingayat community, which demanded the status of a separate religious identity. In March 2018, the Karnataka state government recognised Lingayats as a religious minority under the Karnataka Minorities Act.
- Similarly, Chetan also took part in the Kadugolla Identity Fight in 2017. Kadugolla community consists of Kannada-speaking poverty-stricken tribals of Ramanagara, Chitradurga, Tumkur, and Bellari. Apparently, the Kadugollas were merged into the economically superior community of Gollas. By including Kadugollas within their caste framework, Gollas enjoyed higher democratic numbers enabling them to exert political pressure.
- Furthermore, he also advocates for the LGBTQIA community and has contested the discriminatory Article 377.
- The actor is also behind the establishment of the Film Industry for Equality and Rights (FIRE). The film industry-based organisation aims at the objective of eliminating sexual harassment in the workplace, improving the compensation of writers in the industry, and initiating provident fund (PF) and other medical benefits for film workers.
- Chetan Kumar first met Megha in 2015 during a social gathering in Bengaluru, where their mutual friends introduced them. Megha, who was working as an engineer at that time, was a member of the social work wing at her company. She had been working towards various causes like education of underprivileged children, fundraising for flood relief victims, and encouraging environmentally-conscious initiatives. The zeal for working towards the betterment of society is what brought Chetan and Megha together. In an interview, Chetan said,
Our friendship began to grow stronger because of our shared priorities and overlapping dreams of an equitable, ideal world.”
- After dating for five years, the couple had a civil at the sub-registrar’s office in Gandhi Nagar, Bengaluru, in 2020. The court marriage was followed by a social ceremony at Bengaluru’s Vinoba Bhave Ashram the same evening. Instead of spending their well-earned money on a big, fat, lavish wedding, the activist couple renovated the ashram to celebrate their union. In presence of close friends, family, underprivileged children, and senior citizens of the ashram, Chetan and Megha took vows before the Indian transgender activist, Akkai Padmashali.
The socially-conscious non-religious celebration also included special performances like Budakattu-Adivasi dances and Sufi and Vachana music.
- Chetan and Megha, who strongly support the conservation of the environment, distributed handmade wedding cards with Marigold plant seeds attached to them. For a return gift, the couple gave out copies of the Indian constitution.
- He was included in the Deccan Herald’s list of “20 Changemakers of 2020” for his admirable contribution made in the spirit of humanitarianism.
- In an interview, he revealed that he was passionate about learning different languages. He said,
I have a thing for learning languages. I’ve learnt a bit of Urdu, Telugu and a couple more. I would like to learn new languages, regardless of which language industry I am working in.”
- Chetan Kumar spent his 39th birthday in Parappana Agrahara jail, Bengaluru, as he was arrested due to his 2022 tweet against the Karnataka High Court judge, Justice Krishna Dixit.