Meet India’s Rihanna lookalike, the Chhattisgarh girl who went from ridicule to Riri
When Renee Kujur was three, she participated in a fancy dress competition in her school, dressed as a fairy. As soon as she came on the stage, someone shouted: Dekho delho kaali pari (look, a black fairy) and the auditorium shook with laughter. Renne left the stage sobbing. Twenty years later, as Renne obliges fans with selfies and autographs, she is often reminded of the incident. She smiles and says to herself : Kuch pariyan kaali bhi hoti hain...(some fairies are black, too).+ +
Renee, who hails from Bagicha, Chhattisgarh, entered the world of modelling a few years ago. Rejection became a constant in her life as the fairness obsessed industry wasn’t willing to accept a dark girl with unconventional features. She was made to feel small and inadequate. Some even told her to sleep around to get work. “They told me all models are into prostitution. I won’t become a model unless I pleased clients. Being dark had already killed my chances,” recalls the model. Photographers would tell makeup artists to make her 3-4 tones lighter and heavily photoshop her pictures. “Sundar ladki ka makeup toh koi bhi kar sakta hai. The real challenge is to make a dark girl look good and I have done it,” said a makeup artist once publically after doing her makeup.
One day, a friend realised that Renee bore a striking resemblance to the Barbadian beauty Rihanna, and shot her without tempering with her skin tone. “I laughed off the Rihanna part. But soon everyone was saying the same thing.”
It made it easier for her to get work. “Photogs would tell their clients that I resemble Rihanna. That way, it was easier to convince them. No one could deny that Rihanna wasn’t beautiful. That sort of worked in my favour. Those who had called me kaali and unattractive has to take back their words,” she remembers.+ +
The model wants to thanks the pop star for her lucky break.” With such deep rooted prejudice in people’s mind, it would have been very tough to get work. The Rihanna factor turned out to be a blessing. Rihanna has already convinced people that she is sexy and beautiful and the West is crazy about her. If I resemble her, how can I be unattractive? That’s how our mind works. I don’t know where I would have landed without Rihanna,” she says.
But despite the Rihanna factor, she gets only one third of the work that her fair counterparts do. “Few are willing to turn around rules. For most of the people, beauty strictly means fair skin. It will take time to rewrite set norms, but I am happy I am part of the change,” she laughs.+ +
The girl wants to meet the singer one day. “She is a way turned around destiny for me. I would love to meet her, surprise her and thank her,” she says.
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