An open letter to Ram Gopal Varma who thinks dark is ugly

Author: Akshay Singh

Read Time: 3 minutes

While the country celebrated our Prime Minister’s masterstroke to eliminate the century old roots of corruption dug into India’s economy, we also witnessed your reckless statements that reflected a century old form of social evil that plagues our society – skin colour discrimination.

I’m a filmmaker who is attempting to spread awareness and help eradicate this ingrained colourist attitude. Many of my close friends, acquaintances and people I have come across who are dark skinned have experienced being on the other side of this prejudice and abuse, so needless to say as someone who looks up to your work, your words affected us greatly.

What you have essentially done here is used the ‘Tera muh kala kar diya hai usne’ reference that is popularly used in Hindi. Although you have punctuated this thought of yours with a cool kala chashma emoticon, have you ever wondered why people say, “Tera muh kala kar diya hai usne.” Our beliefs give people who were born fair-skinned an unfair advantage. Over the years, this has been perpetuated by the media and has become an integral part of the Indian psyche. This (now) innate notion convinces us that dark-skinned people are inferior, less beautiful and possibly even less competent (Thank you Fair and Lovely).

So by default, you are implying that loss or embarrassment in this case is symbolic to being (more) dark?!
Let’s take the above tweet. Yes, we can answer your question. It is because of the blatant colourism and prejudice we have ALL grown up with in India. Michelle Obama, a lady with many accolades to her name, appeals to you less regardless of her achievements, because Melania is fair, hence beautiful, and hence ‘liked’ by you more.
Let’s take a moment and think about this. You have captured every colourist, prejudiced Indian’s psyche here – accepting that you like ‘whites’ more since you’re ‘black’ is not something to be proud of. You have inadvertently made being prejudiced against dark-skinned people a fact, when it is not. You have inadvertently accepted that you also find yourself to be somewhat inferior in looks. You might also at some point have faced this prejudice against your skin colour that made you believe you’re not handsome enough, not smart enough, not good enough, which is quite unfortunate. A prejudice is not a fact; it is a pre-conceived notion that is not based on any real experience or logic.
No and no. It is not called being intellectual to add fuel to the age old fire of colourism. It is not common sense to accept that dark skinned people are inferior or less beautiful. It is the truth that most dark-skinned people at some point have been made to feel less, so my question to you here is:  You being a dark-skinned super successful filmmaker, an influencer of millions, a voluntary part of the media responsible for aiding the fairness cream industry to turn into a multi-billion dollar industry, isn’t it time for you to fight this “truth”? Fight to reverse this prejudice that stems from nothing but century old illogical beliefs?

There are men and women in our country who are harassed every day in their work place, in their social life, by their own families. They are rejected for marriage, they are rejected for jobs, they are rejected by their own blood they call family because of their skin colour. They are seen as less beautiful/handsome, less capable, leading to a multitude of suicides, cases of depression, unhappiness and of course, in all of this the only constant is the upward spiraling sales of ineffective fairness creams.

So, respected Ram Gopal Varma Sir, I urge you, it’s the 21st century, being a part of the media, let’s not participate in perpetuating this ‘truth’ further.

Let’s fight this prejudice. Let’s Unlearn this belief.

Yours truly,

Akshay Singh

Writer & Director,

Pinky Beauty Parlour – India’s 1st feature film that addresses the issue of colourism and prejudice against dark-skinned people in India.

Note: The views expressed here are the personal opinions of the author.

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