More articles by

Neeti Vijaykumar
Neeti Vijaykumar

PREJUDICE

Tannishtha Chatterjee speaks out against colour bias

tannishtha-chatterjee Tannishtha Chatterjee in the 2007 critically acclaimed British film Brick Lane, for which she is renowned internationally.

Tannishtha Chatterjee walked out of a comedy show last night when the hosts attempted to make jokes about her skin colour. According to Chatterjee, she had gone in for the show as part of promotions for her recent release, Parched, along with director Leena Yadav and co-star Radhika Apte. “I was told that the flavor of the show is comedy and the purpose is to roast, humor, and offend,” writes Chatterjee in her open letter on Facebook, “... this was an entirely novel understanding of roast that equates itself with bullying... I soon realized that the only quality they found worth roasting about in me was my skin tone. It began with 'aap ko jamun bahut pasand hoga zaroor… kitna jamun khaya aapne bachpan se?' (You surely like jamun... how many jamun have you had since childhood?) And went on in that direction.”

While she sat through the first segment of the show, when the “humour” turned into bullying based entirely on her skin colour, she had had enough. Chatterjee walked out of the show.

However, the organisers did not understand her predicament. She said, “When I told the organisers what I felt, they said, “But we told you it is a roast!” I explained to them the common perception of roast and how it is different from bullying. That there is no humor value in a joke about some ones physical attributes especially one that stems from deep prejudices. I don’t think they got it.”

On Twitter, the internationally renowned award-winning actress garnered a lot of positive responses in support of her decision to call out the channel and show creators.

In her post, she talks about how her problem is not with the show or the creators, but with the society's mindset that glorifies fair skin and looks down on dark complexion. She pointed out how fairness cream ads and matrimonial requests for 'fair complexioned' people are still commonplace, and how being dark-skinned leads to marginalisation and discrimination. “Even considering that dark skin is a joke comes from that very deep prejudice,” she added.

Drawing an example from her own life, where she was indirectly asked why she is dark-skinned in spite of being born to Brahmin parents, she outlines the popular mindset: “Upper caste equals fair skin equals touchable. Lower caste equals dark skin equals untouchable. Yes I have pronounced it. Probably most of us will not admit to our hatred for the dark skin also comes from our caste bias.” Read the full post here:

Color Something has shocked me out of my wits yesterday. I was invited as a guest to a popular comedy show called comedy...

Posted by Tannishtha Chatterjee on Tuesday, 27 September 2016
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