The Hari Putar Dialogues - 38
(The Times of India ; 26 December ; Bombay : Aishwarya Rai-Bachchan does us proud, again. In a country which is unjustly obsessed with fair skin, Aishwarya recently took a firm stand. She refused to be the Indian face of a skin-lightening cream by a global cosmetic company.
After Aishwarya turned down the offer, the cosmetic company signed Sonam Kapoor to endorse the fairness cream. Revealing the real reason for Aishwarya's refusal and Sonam's subsequent approval, our source said, 'It was the fairness cream that bothered Aishwarya. She said that she didn't want to promote a fairness cream especially in India where one's skin color is such a big issue. She will never promote a product that discriminates on the basis of one's skin color. Ours is a society where biases are so prevalent that she will do all she can to curb it.')
Putar: There is a report in the Times of India today about Aishwarya Rai refusal to accept an assignment for a high paying advertisement.
Hari: I haven't read that report, putar. Was she too busy or was there some other reason for refusing?
Putar: According to Times of India sources, Aishwarya didn't want to promote a fairness cream, especially in India where one's skin color is such a big issue.
Hari: That appears to be a principled stand. She deserves to be applauded if that is the reason.
Putar: According to the source Aishwarya believes that ours is a society where biases on the basis of color are so prevalent that she will do all she can to curb it.
HARI; I wish other actors were so thoughtful before accepting an advertisement. Some time back Shah Rukh Khan could be seen in so many advertisements. Why does he need to do so many ads?
Putar: It's the money.
Hari: Yes, but he is surely not short of money.
Putar: True, but these ads pay more than films.
Hari: Of course they don't.
Putar: For the amount of time they spend shooting an advertisement they do earn much more, relatively speaking. The company may spend more time shooting a two minute ad than a film maker would for two minutes of a two hour film, but they would proportionately pay the actor much more. For agreeing to do some ads the actors are literally paid a fortune.
Hari: I guess Shah Rukh or other actors who appear very frequently could argue that the consumer can make up his or her mind. Everyone knows its just an ad.
Putar: Yes, but at the same time everyone, and especially the companies who are advertising their product know that advertisements do have a huge influence on consumer spending.
Hari: That's true.
Putar: I have a feeling that there may be another reason why Aishwarya refused to do this particular ad.
Hari: And what is that reason?
Putar: Well, Ash, despite being judged one of the most beautiful women on the planet is not as fair as someone like Katrina Kaif for instance.
Putar: During her growing up years, despite being so incredibly beautiful, she may have sensed a feeling that people around her thought that beautiful as she was, she was not sufficiently fair skinned.
Hari: That's an interesting idea. But with her looks, wouldn't you say this was unlikely?
Putar: I don't think so. She may not have always been so beautiful. As a gawky growing up teenager, she may have felt that by Indian standards of beauty she was not sufficiently fair. And so she has been sensitized to this issue.
Hari: But she has been refusing other ads as well.
Putar: That's true. According to the Times of India source: 'Aishwarya is primarily guided by her sense of ethics as far as advertising is concerned. She does not endorse products unless she believes in them. She was recently offered a fortune to replace Rani Mukherjee to endorse a popular mosquito repellent cream, but she turned down the offer.' So, according to this report, she does appear to be thoughtful with respect to other ads as well.
Hari: It would seem so indeed.
Putar: Tell me something Papaji?
Hari: Bol, putar?
Putar: Aishwarya has married into the Bacchan family. She admires her father-in-law a great deal, doesn't she?
Hari: She has said so in the past.
Putar: I'm sure that she has learnt many things from her father-in-law and I don't mean only in the acting profession. Would you agree?
Hari: I'm sure of that, putar.
Putar: But not long ago, Mr Bacchan (like Shah Rukh Khan) was appearing in so many advertisements, that there seemed to be little thought devoted to the acceptance of these advertisements. As someone who commands high stature and immense popularity, even voted the most popular man in the world, it would seem that on the issue of being selective and thoughtful while accepting advertisements, the father-in-law could learn something from his daughter-in-law. Wouldn't you agree?
Hari: I don't know putar.