Tillotama Shome says director tried to darken her skin in Hollywood film, felt she looked ‘too beautiful to be poor’

Dec 23, 2021 04:36 PM IST

Tillotama Shome said that she was offered a number of ‘maid’ roles after she played a domestic help named Alice in Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding.

Tillotama Shome said that she starred in a Hollywood film in which the director felt she was ‘too beautiful to be poor’ and tried to darken her skin. In a new interview, she opened up about beauty standards and the obsession with fair skin.

Tillotama Shome talked about beauty standards in a new interview.
Tillotama Shome talked about beauty standards in a new interview.

Speaking to a magazine, Tillotama said that after she played a domestic help in her debut film Monsoon Wedding, she was offered several ‘maid’ roles and grew resentful of them.

“I am grateful that the ‘Fair & Lovely’ obsession never entered our household. My parents were truly progressive, without even knowing it. After my debut in Monsoon Wedding, I became resentful of every offer that wanted me to play a maid. I did an American film in which the director tried to darken our skin further as we were looking ‘too beautiful to be poor’,” she told Cosmopolitan India.

“Also, comments like, ‘My maid is more beautiful than you’ reveal that the idea of beauty is not just a post-colonial hangover with people being obsessed with fair skin, but is also damningly class-bound and regressive. I mourn the loss of simplicity. We glorify the beauty of simplicity with annoying trends like ‘no make-up look’...when in reality, beauty is a mood. It is a gesture, a certain confidence, a certain abandon, the tilt of the neck, a full-throated laughter!” she added.

In September, Tillotama clapped back at a troll who said that she ‘looks like a maid’. She tweeted, “A hater on social media called me a ‘flop actress who looks like a maid’. Now how is that even mildly insulting, given my situation!? #dignityoflabour.”

Also see: Tillotama Shome gets marriage proposal from a ‘virgin and vegetarian guy’, here’s her response

Tillotama has won critical acclaim for roles in films such as Shanghai, Qissa: The Tale of a Lonely Ghost and A Death in the Gunj. She won the Filmfare Award for Best Actress (Critics) for her performance in Sir, in which she played a domestic help who aspires to become a fashion designer.

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