HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - Calling all aspiring screenwriters!
A controversy surrounding an animated character on "The Simpsons" has led a Hollywood filmmaker to launch a contest for up-and-coming screenwriters.
The character of "Apu" has been criticized for mocking people from India.
Adi Shankar has produced such titles as "The Grey," "Lone Survivor," "Killing Them Softly," and the Netflix series "Castlevania."
But now, the 33-year-old filmmaker has launched a new contest asking screenwriters to re-write "The Simpsons" character "Apu", an immigrant from India.
An immigrant himself, Shankar came to the United States as a teenager and tells Danny Max the character misses the mark on South Asians.
"I actually didn't realize that [Apu] was an Indian dude," said Shankar. "Because it was so out of my frame of context for what Indian people are like."
Shankar is not the only person voicing frustration. Comedian Hari Kondabolu recently made a documentary called, "The Problem with Apu" which details how the character allegedly misrepresents Indian Americans.
"This [Apu] is not a stereotype, it's not satire," said Shankar. "It's mockery."
Apu is voiced by actor Hank Azaria, who is not of Indian decent. Azaria has offered to step away from the role in light of the controversy.
The Simpsons creator, Matt Groening has since issued a response:
"I think it's a time in our culture where people love to pretend their offended," said Greoning in a recent interview with Newsweek.
The Simpsons will head into its 30th season this fall.
Shankar's goal: Take the winning script to the Simpson's writers room to be produced by the cartoon. Shankar also hopes the winning writer gets a job in "The Simpsons" writer's room.
But Fox has not endorsed the contest and there's no guarantee the network or "The Simpsons" would even consider producing the material from Shankar's contest.
As a backup, Shankar said he will produce the script himself as part of his "Bootleg Universe," a fan-fiction youtube-series that has had millions of views. A recent episode based on "The Power Rangers" starred James Van Der Beek and has been viewed more than 21-million times.
According to Shankar, the contest was inspired by his friend, rapper Kanye West who also helped him film a twitter video describing it.
"He [Kanye West] asked me something no one else had," said Shankar about his interaction with West. "He said, 'what would you rather they did'?"
West has shared Shankar's video on Twitter.
The contest will be judged by several high-profile filmmakers who are also minorities. The contest is open to anyone regardless of screenwriting experience, Shankar said.
The deadline to enter Shankar's contest is June 30th.
To learn more about how you can enter, visit the contest website.