The very talented actor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui has managed to acquire a unique place in the glamorous Indian film industry with his phenomenal theatre skills. Even after being a part of hits like Gangs of Wasseypur and The Lunchbox, the versatile actor repeatedly faces discrimination in the Bollywood industry over his dark complexion.
In a recent interview, Sanjay Chouhan, casting director of Babumoshai Bandookbaaz gave racist remarks on casting Nawazuddin in the film and the difficulties he faced. He said “Keeping Nawaz in mind, all other characters were taken on board. We can’t cast fair and handsome people with Nawaz. It would look so weird. You have to take people with distinct features and personalities when pairing with him”
To which, Nawaz reacted by posting a tweet that read, “Thank U 4 making me realise dat I cannot b paired along wid d fair & handsome bcz I m dark & not good looking, but I never focus on that.”
Here’s his tweet:
This evidently proves that looks still seem to be a deciding factor in the Hindi film industry. No matter how talented an actor is, there is still scope for him or her to be rejected over his or her appearance.
However, Sanjay tried to clarify and told to PTI on Tuesday evening that his comments have been misconstrued. He said “I was completely misquoted. All I said was the film needed actors as good as Nawazuddin. You need actors who could match his stature. I don’t know from where the ‘fair and handsome’ bit came but I never said the words. Also, he added “I would never want to hurt Nawaz sir or the film by giving such statements. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but I am deeply saddened by how the comments, which I never made in the first place, have turned out”
Soon after Siddiqui’s tweet, various celebrities took out time from their busy schedules to extend their support to Nawazuddin and express their concern about racism. Have a look:
Nandita Das: “I am sure it is no surprise to anyone that Nawazuddin’s skin colour would have impeded his career. All around us the images of women and now increasingly of men, are those with light skin. Be it films, television, magazines, hoardings, ads… Everywhere we have ‘fair’ people, in a country that is largely dark!
Every skin care product has a skin lightening element. Dark skinned people are often made to feel inadequate… right from their childhood. I can see the challenges that Nawazuddin must have faced in his career. After he has been around for over 10 years, it is his sheer talent and perseverance that has made him overcome this prejudice.”
Tapsee Pannu: “We are a colour-obsessed nation selling fairness creams in high volumes. Our matrimonial columns till date have a mention of skin colour. So let’s not target only the film industry.”
Anshuman Jha: “I am offered unconventional roles. But I personally haven’t faced any racism in this industry. But this industry is all about how good you look, and therefore discrimination is bound to exist. In the West, the black American actor Jamie Foxx can be paired opposite any leading lady. Here the criterion for casting is how compatible he or she looks like the other actor instead of performing abilities.”
Pankaj Tripathi: “Racism is part of the Indian mindset. We can’t escape it. However, the very fact that Nawazuddin’s comment on racism has triggered off a reaction proves that the mindset is changing.”
Tannishtha Chatterjee: “I think the film industry is not so colour biased. Such colour biases exist more in the advertising industry. Our society at large still suffers from these prejudices. Artistes and art need to speak up against societal prejudice. I’ve never endorsed fairness creams. I’ve never allowed anyone to make me look fair on screen.”