Bollywood is abuzz with news that Kangana Ranaut rejected a 2 crore commercial deal for a fairness cream. By way of explanation, Ranaut stated she felt she’d be insulting all those who have dusky skin if she took the deal — so she decided against it.
“Ever since I was a kid, I have never understood the concept of fairness. Especially, in such a case, as a celebrity, what kind of an example would I be setting for younger people? I have no regrets about turning this offer down,” said Kangana.
Speaking out for a greater cause seems to be the new thing in B-town as many actors have begun fearlessly expressing themselves and voicing their thoughts.
Here are four actors who have stood up for themselves and, in turn, are helping change long-held and often damaging perceptions:
Going around with the motto ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ these days, Deepika has been very vocal about issues concerning mental health as well as body objectification. She recently appeared in Vogue’s campaign ‘My Choice’ which aimed to empower women to take ownership of their agency and choices.
She not only opened up about her own struggle with depression but also discussed her fight along the way. Standing tall with her opinions, Deepika is now considered a role-model for many young girls.
In image-conscious Bollywood, Vidya Balan’s struggle with her weight might have caused some to write her off as superficial.
But the truth is that Balan, who’s known for speaking her mind, isn’t ashamed of her weight. In fact, she’s proud of her appearance.
Having being plump since childhood, the actor was conscious of her body and started working on it to look ‘slim and beautiful’. However an unhappy experience with the weight loss process, the actor decided to look as she pleased and has said:
“A fat girl always feels like a boy will not like her because of her weight. But there is only so much a boyfriend, a husband and your family can do. But I know that love is non-negotiable and at the end of the day, you have to come to terms with who you are.”
Having starred in a film like Margarita With a Straw, Kalki Koechlin spoke up about an issue deemed taboo in all circles of society: sexual abuse.
The young actor who appeared in Zindagi Na Milaygi Dobara and Ye Jawani Hai Deewani has also stood up against rape and appeared in a satirical video condemning those who blame the victim for rape.
It was her statement about child sexual abuse which stirred many when she opened up about her own experience of abuse, which occurred when she was nine years old. She believes that no one should hide such events out of shame or fear:
“I believe in being myself every step of the way and not hiding my true self from society, whether that means getting a divorce because me and my husband didn’t want to pretend for other people, or wearing shorts because it’s a hot day or choosing a career which is unstable but creatively satisfying, or admitting to my weaknesses because learning from them has led to my strengths.”
One of the leading voices of the campaign, ‘Dark is Beautiful’ filmmaker-actor Nandita Das believes that skin colour must not define a person. In a society where light-toned skin and fairness are considered assets, Das’s campaign became extremely popular. She lashed out at all the brands and bodies who push women to be conscious of their colour and instill the thought that only fairness guarantees success:
“I have often wondered why are we supposed to feel proud or ashamed of attributes that we are born into. I have done nothing to be born as a woman, a Hindu, an Indian or dark. But then there are choices I have made through the years that have been mine and if I must be judged, let those be the ones. But this is easier said than done. I am shocked to see the rise in the number of fairness creams, dark actresses looking paler and paler with every film and magazines, hoardings, films and advertisements showing only fair women. You could ask what is there to be shocked, as all this has always existed. But with more women in the work force, voicing their desires and concerns, more debate about gender equality and sensitivity, one would imagine that racism of this sort would be on the decline,” said Das.
Here’s hoping we see more actors speaking out, especially in Pakistan!