What a line.. “White White Face Dekhe… Dilwa Beating Fast.. Chance Maare Re…Dil Dance Maare Re”. All of you remember this line from the song ‘Dil Dance Maare’ from the movie Tashan. A very catchy song in which we see a group of foreigners shooting a movie. Seeing the shoot Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Akshay Kumar get excited and sing this song. When I heard the recent statement of adman Prahlad Kakkar about India’s obsession with fair skin, this song instantly crossed my mind.
What is this obsession with fair skin for Indians around the world? Even in the Western world an Indian girl or boy with fair skin is much more appreciated as a partner than someone with brown skin. I have seen it happen and know people who have told me they would prefer a partner with fair skin. Mostly men make it a point to mention it. It almost seems as if family and personality of a person is no longer important as long as the person has fair skin.
And then when you think this issue is slowly leaving this world, comes adman Prahlad Kakkar with a statement that just blows your mind: “You take brown skinned girls to your hotel room and fair skinned ones to your mother.”
The statement got an immediate reaction from music director Vishal Dadlani. He openly called the adman a moron and further added: “Our country already has too much language, race, gender and colour discrimination. It’s probably just a sensationalist statement, meant to get him eyeballs, but very irresponsible.” In support of Vishal Dadlani, actor Vivek Oberoi also gave his opinion on the matter: “I wonder how many young impressionable girls would have watched the show and how they felt about the colour of their skin, their self-esteem?” The brown-skinned actress Bipasha Basu thinks it is a ridiculous statement, but is sure that Kakkar did not mean what he said.
But Kakkar did mean what he said and defends his statement. “It’s men like Vishal who are conscious of their own hypocrisy and reacting so strongly to this. I am glad I am the one who set the cat among the pigeons. What I meant was that about 50-60 percent of Indian men are hypocritical enough to think that they can date and bed dusky women, but they should end up marrying fair ones. I am not projecting hypocrisy, I am reflecting it. I am just the bearer of bad news — you can’t crucify me for that. Even our movies typecast fair women as sati savitris and dusky ones as the ones you desire and want to bed.”
It is not the first time Kakkar made a statement like this. He has developed a theory on why Indians want to be white. “Throughout history India’s repeatedly been invaded. These invaders – Persians, Moghuls, and the British – tended to have lighter skins than Indians, so paler skin has become associated with power.” If white skin is associated with power, then why is the head of the most powerful nation in the world an Afro-American man named Obama? If white is associated with power then why is Oprah Winfrey considered powerful? If we look at our own country we have very successful people with brown skin. Just look at Bipasha Basu, Shah Rukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Rani Mukherjee, Gautam Gambhir, Praveen Kumar and A.R. Rahman. Nothing has stopped them from achieving their goal. A.R. Rahman won two Oscars this year and that is powerful. They don’t hide from their natural brown skin colour; actually, they are proud of it.
But it seems as if the fairness obsession is stuck in the minds of Indians. Instead of concentrating on being a good human being by striving for success, achieving goals in life and just being happy, they want to be fair. So they run to the nearest shop and buy fairness cream.
Recently, beauty Deepika Padukone announced that she will endorse a fairness cream, but according to her the cream isn’t about becoming fair. “It’s not about using a product and suddenly becoming fair. The fairness creams are used to even out your skin tone and protect your skin from pigmentation due to harsh sunlight. You get a sort of inner glow in your skin.”
“Cosmetics manufacturers claim their skin-whitening creams produce results within weeks or even days. These creams generally contain sunscreen and moisturizer, plus a formula that will affects your skin’s melanin, which determines its colour”, said a sceptic.
There are a lot of girls who are very insecure of themselves because of their skin colour. Kakkar’s comment and Deepika’s endorsement deal can add to that insecurity. Young teenagers, especially girls, are an easy target for these products and these statements.
In the end, all people get old and wrinkled and all that you’re stuck with is your personality. So if we start working on that from the beginning and work on our ‘inner world’ instead of concentrating on the ‘outer world’, then maybe these issues can vanish one day.
I am glad people are standing up to this statement, because it is really not done. How long will we continue to sell the differences of this country? How long will it take for us as Indians to be proud of who we are? Isn’t it more important to be a good human being, be happy and make India proud?
Our mindset must change and we, as a nation, need to be more responsible in bringing forth that change.