Hank Azaria makes amends with 'The Problem with Apu' creator Hari Kondabolu: 'It's still embarrassing to me'

In a new Code Switch episode on NPR, comedians Hari Kondabolu and Hank Azaria had their first public chat since Hari's documentary, The Problem with Apu, came out in 2017. The film took a critical look at how Hollywood represents South Asians and called out Hank, a white actor, for voicing the Indian character, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon, in The Simpsons. During their candid conversation, Hank made amends with Hari, acknowledging the impact of the documentary and addressing the issues it raised. (You can also find him hilariously helping to promote Hari's new YouTube standup comedy special, "Vacation Baby.")

Here's a snippet:

Hank: I'm so grateful for you dragging and pushing me into this conversation.

Hari: It means a lot to hear you say that. I know you've told me privately the impact that I've made, but to hear that publicly is a really big deal to me because one of the things that frustrated me after the film came out is that I was getting death threats…Initially it bothered me that you didn't mention me because I had to deal with all this crap to get it there…There is a history of white folks talking about what they've learned and sharing the knowledge without giving credit to the people of color that actually got them there. Like, you put in the work and then you get never get credit for the work. And at the end of the day, I'm talking about this way more than I wanted to.

And I know it's a different experience for both of us, because for you it's opened up all these new ideas and you've grown in incredible ways and I can see your excitement about the work you're doing now. To me, this was old hat when I made the documentary. So it's the double whammy of being stuck here without also getting props. So for you to say it now does mean a lot.

Hank: I apologize for not saying it earlier. It put me in a dilemma because it's still embarrassing to me to point at the doc, although whatever I feel personally about it is a drop in the ocean compared to what your community has had to deal with.