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An ‘un’fair obsession...

Obsession for fair skin is extremely high in India.Although we tend to argue that such discriminations don’t bother the urban India, that’s not always the case.

lucknow Updated: Jul 27, 2017 16:13 IST
S Farah Rizvi
S Farah Rizvi
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Racism,Fair skin,Obsession
Look around and you find racists everywhere, including our relatives.

Obsession with fair skin is not new in our society. Although we tend to argue that such discriminations don’t bother the urban India, that’s not always the case. Of late, actor Nawazuddin Siddiqui and earlier actor/director Nandita Das created flutter by talking about the society and Bollywood’s obsession with fair skin. HT City spoke to a few youngsters to know about their views on inclination for fair skin prevalent in our society.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui

For Shilpa Rai, a freelancer, obsession for fair skin is extremely high in North India. “While living in North India, I always believed that skin colour is an imperative part of one’s personality. But as I grew up I realised this was the most racist thought persistently prevailing in our region. Bias against dark skin is deep rooted and we do not even spare kids while constantly comparing the fair and the dark ones, completely ruining their confidence. If the kid happens to be a girl, the scenario becomes worse. Recently, the news about African students’ ordeal dealing with racism in India came as a shock. How can our film industry stay away from charm for fair skin? But then you just can’t blame Bollywood. Look around and you find racists everywhere, including our relatives. A glance at the matrimonial section of newspapers or a variety of fairness creams kept on shelves in any shop shows how much we are obsessed with the term fair.”

However, there are others who believe that it was just a gimmick and the celebs often bring up such issues to promote their movies. “This is just a promotional gimmick on the part of Nawazuddin Siddiqui. A few days back, he had said there was no discrimination in the film industry and now he is saying that biasness exists. This issue should not be given much attention. How come he is getting films if he is being discriminated,” said media professional Vineet Kumar Singh.

Nandita Das

Many youngsters also feel that like our society, the Bollywood has never been known to break any taboos. Those associated with showbiz mint money by reinforcing what already exists. And the condition is getting worse with stars like Shahrukh Khan endorsing fairness creams.

A young teacher, Hiba Farheen, feels that Indians have the obsession for fair skin since centuries. “We are still under the influence of colonial regime when fair skin was revered. And the irony is that we celebrate the Independence Day every year with pride! Unfortunately, majority of Bollywood films fail to be a mirror of our society as the lead actors have to fill in several criteria to get a big film like skin colour, good looks, hair and everything seems to be borrowed from the west. This is definitely a wannabe attitude.”

For student Prakhar Srivastava, Bollywood movies do reflect our society’s obsession for fair skin just the way every second family wants a fair daughter and daughter-in-law. “We even worship white cows and see where we are heading today. Bollywood too is no exception and so you can’t expect them to do any better,” said Prakhar.

Tanay Tridal, a PG student, says, “Bollywood fraternity still dreams of making it big like Hollywood some day but forgets about some splendid actors like Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith who were given breaks for their talent. And the list goes on and on. Many of the big shots in Bollywood say it’s an ‘industry’. If it was true, it would have heeded Nawaz’s efforts and acknowledged his fine acting skills. Still I hope that things will change when people like Siddiqui and Das will come out in the open and talk about these taboos.”

First Published: Jul 27, 2017 16:13 IST