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Artistes, art must speak up against societal prejudice: Tannishtha Chatterjee

Artistes, art must speak up against societal prejudice: Tannishtha Chatterjee
Actor Tannishtha Chatterjee, who is in news for slamming the “Comedy Night Bachao” team for accusing her of publicity-mongering with her anguish on being mocked at for her dark skin tone, says she hopes her reaction begins a movement against skin-tone racism. Chatterjee , who went on ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’ to promote her film Parched, walked out of the show after Krushna Abhishek made some inappropriate jokes about her skin colour.

Following are the excerpts from an interview where she talks about the need to stop propagating such prejudices.

You have caused a global furore by standing up to skin prejudice on ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’. What made you take this stand?
It’s about time we all took a stand against the gori-versus-kaali prejudices in our society. This is not about me. And it’s not about one show. It’s about the way we think as a people. We must stop making jokes about dark skin. It’s a stand that I’ve taken on behalf of all dark-skinned people. Until the bias disappears, we have to keep protesting against it. I’ve been a part of the ‘Dark Is Beautuful’ campaign for the longest time. Artistes and art need to speak up against societal prejudice.

I think Krushna Abhishek and Bharti Singh owe you an apology?
They don’t owe me an apology. They owe an apology to all those dark-skinned men and women whom they have insulted. They don’t seem to understand the ramifications of their so-called jokes. It’s not about just my skin tone. Even if someone else had been similarly insulted, I would have stood up to speak against it. The channel has been gracious enough to apologise. I am glad they’ve taken a stance.

What do you have to say about actors like Shah Rukh Khan and Yami Gautam endorsing fairness creams?
It’s their choice. They have to do what they want. I’ve done what I wanted. Ajay Devgn has spoken up for us. We need more stars to come forward to support me.

Have you ever given in to the demand to look light-skinned on screen?
Never! In fact, when I did UnIndian, some critics commented on why such a dark girl was cast as a savvy working-woman in Australia. Someone wrote they should’ve cast someone pretty. Pretty is equivalent to fair skinned. This prejudice is all-prevalent in our country. Look at how Africans are treated in our country.

Isn’t Lupita Nyong’o beautiful?
She is! This is exactly what I’m trying to say. This prejudice has to change. 90 per cent of us Indians are dark skinned. There are other body biases in our society. But skin prejudice hits at a person’s self-esteem. It is rooted in the caste system. That is why I salute Nagraj Manjule for casting a fair-skinned boy as a Dalit in Sairat. We need more films to break stereotypes.

Do you have a solution to this problem?
I think schools should have classes for colour conditioning. Children need to be educated on why dark and fair skin are equally beautiful. Children mustn't tease each other by using kaali as an abuse. Even parents need re-conditioning in their mindset. Please don’t splash talcum powder on your daughters’ faces before sending them to school.


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