Calling Nawazuddin Siddiqui an average actor, Rishi Kapoor recently said, “You (Siddiqui) have not done it (running around trees) in your life; neither will you get a chance to do it. And you aren’t capable of doing it either. You don’t have the image; you do not have the talent.”

Clearly, Kapoor was alluding to Siddiqui’s unconventional looks. Rishi Kapoor recently lashed out against Nawazuddin Siddiqui stating that the latter was not capable of running around trees in his films

In a country obsessed with fair skin, it is perhaps no wonder that Bollywood has still not managed to steer away from racism. Time and again, dusky actresses — and actors too — in Bollywood have faced the brunt of this racism, even though internationally, dark-skinned celebrities have done well for themselves. Be it comments, lyrics of songs or dialogues in films, racism has raised its ugly head in Bollywood on several occasions and it continues to do so.

One instance would be when Kareena Kapoor apparently described Bipasha Basu as a ‘kali billi’ (black cat), referring to Basu’s dusky complexion. The comment raked up a controversy with Basu refusing to make any comments on the same.

Past instances

In the past too, there have been many cases where racism was evident. The late Smita Patil, touted as one of the finest actresses in the industry, faced it too.

Mahesh Bhatt, who worked with Smita Patil in Arth, says, “Smita was never apologetic about her looks. She refused to conform to the prescribed maxims of the film industry. Culturally, the word ‘kali’ or ‘kala’ was used to demean someone.

“Our minds are coloured by the racism that was practised by the British during their rule in India, and it takes years to unshackle oneself from this slave mentality. We may have won political freedom, but socially, we are still slaves to such a backward mindset,” he added.

National award-winning actress, Usha Jadhav, too has faced problems due to her skin colour. She says, “Many producers refused to cast me because of the colour of my skin. They’d say that they want a fair girl to play the heroine.”
Filmmaker Aanand Rai remembers how his decision to cast Dhanush as the main lead in his film, Raanjhanaa, was met with scepticism.

 “I was told that the hero has to fair and good-looking as that is what the audiences want today. Particularly in north India, a good-looking person is a fair skinned person. When people see such a person, he / she is asked to become a hero/ heroine. Of course, I didn’t let such talk affect my decision-making,” he says.

Actress Nandita Das is another name who is only too aware of the racist side of Bollywood. Lending her support to the ‘Dark is beautiful’ campaign that fights this obsession with fair skin, she points out that the film industry has been glorifying white skin for a long time.

“This reflects how biased our society is. We keep saying things like, ‘Uska rang saaf hai’ while referring to fair-skinned people; it’s as if dark skin is a dirty thing. This mindset is then propagated in our songs, stories, myths and fables,” she points out.

Courtesy: Mid-day

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