Even after more than seven decades of Independence from colonial rule, India is yet to free itself from shackles of many social evils. Racism is one such evil which has inflicted the minds of Indian public. Bollywood industry is also not untouched with this sick mindset. Blatantly or subtly, but it racism does exist in bollywood. Whether it be the songs mocking a complexion or depicting an ideal image of beauty, bollywood has at many instances manifested its obsession for fair complexion or we can say its aversion for dark complexion. In bollywood the term ‘Fair’ has connotations for beauty and good looks.
A very famous song in bollywood – “Hum Kaale hai to Kya Hua” from movie “Gumnaam” may be taken as example to understand how disdain for dark complexion has been ingrained in the minds of Indian public. The song subtly conveys message that – though I am black (Unattractive), I have a big heart.
Another movie “Naseeb apna apna, 1986” starring Rishi Kapoor, Farah Naaz and Radhika, has blatantly depicted how a dark skinned woman(Raadhika) was mocked and disgusted for her complexion. Towards the end of the movie when the same woman becomes fair, she suddenly becomes attractive for everyone.
Bollywood’s obsession for fair complexion may be seen from following:
- Goriya chura na mera jiya- Govinda and karishma kapoor
- Chura k din mera goriya chali – Main khiladi tu anari
- Gori Teri aakhe kaha – lucky ali
- Ye gore gore gaal – saif Ali khan
- Ye kaali kaali aankhen, ye gore gore gaal – baazigar
- Gori tera gaon Bada pyara – chitchor
- Gori Tere pyaar mein – movie starring kareena kapoor and imran khan
- Gori hai kalaiyaan – amitabh bachchan
- Gore gore mukhde pe kaala kaala chasma
- Gori – band of boys
- Gori naal ishq – bally sagoo
In bollywood, the black man becomes the villain as you have seen in the 1993 film Tiranga (Gainda Singh) or the 1998 film Dushman (Gokul Pandit). Even now, Nawazuddin Siddiqui or Prakash Raj is the villain in a Salman Khan film. And if not the villain, they are the joker; Johnny Lever, Raju Shrivastav, et al. Is it any wonder after all that the fairness cream industry in India is worth an estimated Rs. 3000 crore.
In real life also the bollywood “stars” are no less of a racist. Yesteryear actor Jeetendra once mocked Mithun Charkraborty citing that if he becomes hero he will leave acting. Mithun did become an actor, however, Jeetendra didn’t remain true to his words. Another incidence is when, Rishi Kapoor targeted Nawazuddin Siddiqui stating that the later cannot do romantic roles for he has no image for the same. Rishi Kapoor is the same person who had of late accused British Airways of being racist after an Indian passenger and family were asked to de-board a flight in the UK.
Another blatant example of racist mindset of a bollywood “celebrity” is Esha Gupta sharing a snapshot of whatsapp chat with her friend on her Instagram, where both can been seen making racist remarks on Arsenal’s midfielder Alex Iwobi. Esha Gupta was quick to take down the picture after she realised her mistake, but fans had already taken screenshots and shared it on social media, which led to backlash from Arsenal fans. Later she posted an apology which goes like “Guys m sorry you thought it was racist. Was bad on my part, being a sports lover. Wallah never meant it. Sorry guys forgive the stupidity #gooner4life”.
Miss Gupta was apologetic that people found it racist. So if people had applauded for it or she hadn’t faced backlash for her act, she might have been cool about it. Height of stupidity and lowest of a character.
If Bollywood is called out for its sexism, it is about time that it is criticised for its racism. Bollywood has the power to influence numerous people in the country and besides Cricket, it is the other religion in the country that is not a religion. If our films and filmmakers can become socially responsible, may be, our country’s people will gradually learn to be civil and act as educated, conscientious individuals.