Abhay Deol on Wednesday lambasted several Bollywood stars for endorsing fairness creams, thereby labeling their campaigns as demeaning and racist. His Facebook post received around 7,000 likes and was appreciated by many for the stand on the issue. He openly targeted Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Vidya Balan and other actors who in their ad commercials have stressed on the need for a ‘gora mukhda’. Abhay Deol is bang on while talking about the issue. But we are sure he is aware of the fact that obsession with fair skin is deeply rooted in the film industry since its inception.
Recently there were reports that Deepika Padukone had undergone skin lightening treatment to look ‘fairer’. Well, she clearly refuted the rumours saying “Who does that?” Be it Kajol, Deepika, Bipasha or Esha Deol as Sonam Kapoor pointed out to Abhay – all of them seem to be getting visibly lighter-skinned in their films, adverts or photoshoots. Because, editing.
Bollywood’s obsession with fair skin is not new, it is in fact a legacy of our colonial past. During the days of Raj, the British or ‘goras’ as you would call it, looked down upon anyone who wasn’t white, or caucasian.
With the obsession with white, fair skin so prevalant in our society, it is hardly surprising that it has seeped into our films. Decades ago, there were films in which male leads playing prospective grooms yearned for a ‘sundar’ biwi. By the word sundar, it was obvious that she was meant to be fair-skinned.
Not just your teeth, skin must be ‘white too:
It is sad that makers have tried hard to time and again make heroines look fairer onscreen. A classic example being Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s 2015 historical romance Bajirao Mastani. The song Deewani Mastani witnessed the larger-than-life avatar of Bundelkhand princess Mastani who performs before Maratha warrior Bajirao Ballal (Ranveer Singh). We know Bhansali’s films have characters and backdrops epitomising grandeur. But why spend so much resources to make an actor look fairer than her own complexion?
Famously dusky actress Kajol, with her staple unibrow, has in recent years become… fair. No, there’s no other word for it. So did Priyanka Chopra till Quantico came calling.
Lyrics be racist, too
Similarly, Jacqueline Fernandez tapped her feet on the song Chittiyan Kalaiyan Ve from the 2015 dud Roy. If you listen to the song and the lyrics, it is nothing less than sheer promotion of white skin. The protagonist asks the guy to take her for shopping and get her earrings. All this should be done because she is requesting him and above all, possesses white wrists. Say what again?!
Sample this song Gore Gore Mukhde Pe Kaala Kaala Chashma from 1994 Akshay Kumar starrer Suhaag in which the guy praises his miffed ladylove (Nagmaa) by comparing her complexion akin to Karisma Kapoor.
Not only do we literally white-wash our actresses and our lyrics, we make way for fairer-skinned actresses even in films based on real life characters who are NOT fair. For instance, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Zaira Wasim, Sanya Malhotra were all spectacular in Dangal, true. But do they even remotely match the dusky Phogat sisters in real life? For such a perfectionist, Aamir Khan seems to have missed such a vital detail.
Apna Sapna Money Money
Shah Rukh Khan endorses a fairness cream for men, and has been at for quite a while now. His 2015 release Dilwale too had a song with his on-screen bro Varun Dhawan addressing ladylove Kriti Sanon as Goriya who awakens ‘emoson‘ in his heart. If you don’t remember, hear this track once again.
Starring opposite him in Dilwale is Kajol who, as we have pointed out before, looks completely different from the actress we loved in Baazigar, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai etc. Rohit Shetty and co. have left no stone unturned to project her almost as fair as the other female lead, Kriti Sanon.
Even in old films like Baazigar, Kajol who is clearly dusky, is being serenaded with this epic number:
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