Abhay Deol on ‘Fairness Awareness’ and Bollywood Stereotypes

by Almas Khateeb | Published: Sunday, April 23, 2017

Most Bollywood actors have endorsed a fairness cream or a skin lightening product at some stage in their lives. But Abhay Deol has made sure that he stays away. In fact he recently called out some of fellow actors for promoting discrimination based on skin colour. In an exclusive interview with Outlook, the Aisha actor opens up about what triggered his outrage.

"Sometimes you feel a little is not enough, so you do some more. Honestly, I was just expressing my views. I did it for awareness, though with a bit of fun... I know a lot of people who don’t feel inferior because of skin colour, instead feel angry because they are made to feel inferior. - Abhay Deol, Actor

Abhay Deol traces society’s love of light skin back in history.

"It’s an issue, or a complex, we in India have been having for thousands of years. It started with the days of agriculture when people who worked in the fields had darker skin, because they were exposed to the sun all day. Peasants were poor anyway. That is how we came to asso­ciate fair skin with richness and wealth, bec­ause the feudal moneyed stayed indo­ors. After that came the Mughals and then the British. We may have a very deep-rooted cultural identity, but a very young national identity. As a people, we are being pulled in all directions and, many a time, we don’t know where to go. - Abhay Deol

He also brings forth a very important aspect of film making, the ‘Bollywood formula’, that further perpetuates the negative cycle of superficiality.

    "It is all about the hero and heroine; I mean the actors doing the roles. This is what I don’t like about the Bollywood formula. You have so-and-so actor and actress and then you have a story. The stars attract people and the makers of the movie hope the viewers will thus like the film as well. It breeds the superficiality that looks are important. These are subtle messages we get every day, every moment. We subconsciously take in these concepts and grow beliefs that you have to look a certain way to get the girl, you have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful as a girl. The film industry is pushing that narrative vigorously. They are relentless in making you feel inferior. When people feel inferior, they do something to get rid of it. It’s easy to manipulate them. They are already in a vulnerable position. - Abhay Deol


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