Obsessed with fair skin? Actors say skin bias still exists in the film industry and it’ll take time to change the mindset

Published on Jul 12, 2020 11:20 PM IST
Actors Richa Chadha, Adil Hussain, Anupria Goenka, Tannishtha Chatterjee and Sayani Gupta share why eradicating discrimination based on skin tone in showbiz is still a long road ahead.
Actor Adil Hussain says we need to create enough awareness and representation on the screen to addresses certain discrimination prevalent in our society.
Actor Adil Hussain says we need to create enough awareness and representation on the screen to addresses certain discrimination prevalent in our society.
Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

Even after two weeks since a leading brands decided to drop the words ‘fairness’, ‘whitening’ and ‘lightening’ from their range of beauty products, the debate around colour bias and the obsession with fair skin refuses to die down. While many are hopeful that an evolution is underway, Bollywood actors feel it’s still a long road ahead especially when it comes to getting roles in films and casting someone basis their skin colour.

Richa Chadha agrees that one gets called ‘unconventional, dusky, sexy’, but she’s quick to add, “Only once I was rejected for a role because the director insisted on having a ‘fair and homely’ actress. I really think things are changing and I hope actors no longer face discrimination because of their colour. About a decade ago, when I’d audition for ads, we were told very categorically that the skin care ads would only go to foreign models because they’re fair.”

While both Richa Chadha hopes that actors no long face discrimination based on skin colour, Tannishtha Chatterjee says the change will take time to happen.
While both Richa Chadha hopes that actors no long face discrimination based on skin colour, Tannishtha Chatterjee says the change will take time to happen.

Actor Anupria Goenka recalls her initial years when she’d audition for ads and how a lot of audition messages would say, ‘looking for a fair girl’. She says, “I feel while casting, those who’re dusky or dark are often considered for a certain category of characters — like a role that’s sexy, seductive or perhaps the other woman category. For a girl next door, fair women are given a preference.”

While no one has openly commented on Tannishtha Chatterjee’s skin tone, she admits, “I’ve often been told ‘We’d look for a suitable role for you’. So,it’ll definitely take another two- three generations for this change to happen.”

Chatterjee further points that the reason actors are cast in a certain way, “is because the audiences’ mindset needs to be catered to. It’s ingrained in our culture. Even after having a diverse representation of actors, singers, directors, writers in the West, everyone face these issues.”

Both Sayani Gupta and Anupria Goenka agree that discrimination exists as this is something that prevalent in our society as well.
Both Sayani Gupta and Anupria Goenka agree that discrimination exists as this is something that prevalent in our society as well.

Though Sayani Gupta agrees that such discrimination exists, she also opines that film industry is a better place. “Obsession with fair skin, heroine looking like a certain way is there. There’s nothing wrong in that but that doesn’t mean your heroines can’t be really dark. Such prejudices, I feel, are in the society in general,” she adds.

And it’s not just with female actors but male stars, too. Actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui, in an interview to us earlier, had called out this obsession with fair skin and good looks, and revealed being rejected because he is “dark and not good looking”.

Adil Hussain, who isn’t new to colour bias, says the change is happening but it’s painful slow. “I think such biases can be best addressed by art. Cinema is being an art form can influence mindset. So, we must become the moral compass of the society and help evolve for better over these biases against fair, dark, LGBTQ, dwarfs etc. We sometimes crack jokes on such issues because we’ve normalised them. We need to create enough awareness and representation on the screen,” he urges.

Follow @htshowbiz for more

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Shreya Mukherjee is a senior content producer at Hindustan Times. She has spent over eight years covering entertainment, features and hard-news. When not writing, her passion for travel, literature, films and music gets her going.

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