Shades of Prejudice: Bollywood celebrities add weight to skin colour debate

Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee's outrage upon facing a "racist attack" on a nationally televised comedy show has led several celebrities in Bollywood to condemn the idea of humor surrounding skin color --a prejudice deeply rooted in the society

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Tannishtha Chatterjee. Wikimedia
Mumbai, September 29, 2016: Actress Tannishtha Chatterjee’s outrage upon facing a “racist attack” on a nationally televised comedy show has led several celebrities in Bollywood to condemn the idea of humor surrounding skin color –a prejudice deeply rooted in the society.
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Clearly, Tannishtha was not amused with the ‘roast’ that she went for on “Comedy Nights Bachao”, and she wrote a Facebook post to vent her anger after experiencing that the only thing the hosts could ‘roast’ about a dark-skinned actress was “of course her dark skin”.
 Her post went viral on social media, leading to a debate on the limit to humor.
Upset about Tannishtha’s experience, filmmaker and social activist Ashoke Pandit called the show “sexist”.
“Why comment on Tannishtha’s skin color? Never heard ‘roast’ masters commenting on skin color of male superstars! Sexist. Roast Vs Racism,” Pandit tweeted on Wednesday, adding that he doesn’t find vulgarity funny.
“Today I’m vindicated that India feels offended when a woman is humiliated in the name of roast and humor. Vulgarity isn’t funny! Roast Vs Racism,” added Pandit, who is also a member of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
He recounted the All India Bakchod (AIB) Knockout Roast of January 2015 which involved leading Bollywood celebrities and was widely slammed for its offensive and explicit content.
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“That was the beginning of offensive humor, now deal with it,” he said and added: “Anyone who had supported AIB would be fine with racist comments on a woman. I’m sure the actresses laughing at the roast don’t find this racist.”
Actress Pooja Bedi joined in the debate, saying her skin color is her pride.
“If someone took off about my skin color, I’d say I love my color and I put sun-tan (not sunblock) and lie in the sun! Pride for me, prejudice for you. All extremes are brunt of jokes. Tall/short dark/fair virgin/prostitute. Remember Bachchan song ‘Jiski biwi gori/lambi’ etc? Roast Vs Racism,” Pooja tweeted.
Actress Lisa Ray said: “Even considering that dark skin is a joke comes from very deep prejudice.”
Swara Bhaskar, who is known for being vocal about her views on social issues in the country, hailed Tannishtha’s bravado in speaking up about the issue.
“Good on you Tanishtha Chatterjee! Big love, big hug and high five! You go girl,” Swara tweeted. Even her “Angry Indian Goddesses” co-star Sandhya Mridul said: “She’s a tiger! Go get them all Tan.”
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Tannishtha was a guest on “Comedy Nights Bachao” to promote her latest film “Parched” with director Leena Yadav and co-actor Radhika Apte. Tannishtha is said to have stormed out of the sets mid-shoot due to the “blatantly racist attack”, wherein she was asked ‘Aap ko jamun bahut pasand hoga zaroor…?'”
After her post went viral, Colors issued an apology to her for “any hurt that was unwittingly caused”. (IANS)
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