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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

If you see a dark girl in a film, she is either the villain or really nice: Nandita Das on India’s obsession with fair skin

She’s been the face of the Dark is Beautiful campaign for many years now, but actor Nandita Das says this was “ by default”, as she saw the obsession people have with being fair.

fashion-and-trends Updated: Nov 21, 2019 14:51 IST
Rishabh Suri
Rishabh Suri
Hindustan Times
Nandita Das has been vocal about accepting all skin colours.
Nandita Das has been vocal about accepting all skin colours. (Gokul VS/Hindustan Times)
         

She’s been the face of the Dark is Beautiful campaign for many years now, but actor Nandita Das says this was “ by default”, as she saw the obsession people have with being fair. Talking about other female actors, she tells us, “Many female actors were becoming lighter and lighter with every film! Being a dark person, you are always being told about it. Initially all articles about me would start with - dark and dusky. Thankfully, my parents never put any complex in me. When I speak at colleges, young girls ask me ‘how come you are so confident despite being dark?’ because we link the colour of our skin to our self esteem and confidence. When I supported this campaign, I didn’t think I was going to become the face of it.”

 

Recently, Nandita brought together many actors such as Radhika Apte for a two-minute anthem, India’s Got Colour. What the 49-year old fails to understand is the reason behind the booming sales of fairness products. “Fairness creams, whitening products are increasing by the day. Even a face wash that is on your face for 30 seconds is supposed to make your skin tone lighter! All imageries around us don’t reflect the diversity we see in society. Women are speaking up more and in every possible field, yet the burden of looking a certain way hasn’t quite diminished,” says Nandita, who has been a part of critically-acclaimed films such as Firaaq (2008), Fire (1996) and Earth (1999).

What’s her take on celebrities endorsing such products? Nandita refrains from saying anything about them. “It’s not my place to say whether they should or not. The point is whether you look at hoardings, magazines, TV series, or films, you only see fair girls, in a country that is largely dark. if there is a dark girl in a film, then there is a need to justify it. She has to be either the villain or really nice, or there is a problem because she is dark. It has to be identified and it cannot be just one of the many attributed of the character. People need not be defined by identities they are born with. Nationality, religion, gender, sexual preference, colour of skin, are not things to be ashamed or proud of. We should be identified by our thoughts and actions. Are we making a difference in whatever little way we can?” she asks.

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