Shahrukh Khan And The Case of Being Fair

Shahrukh Khan’s recent decision to back a skin lightening cream may lead to the stars fall from grace. It’s extraordinary that being dark himself, he should endorse a product that perpetuates racial stereotypes.In a write-up for BBC, Naresh Puri’s recent article puts the disappointment of Shahrukh’s decision into perspective.

“One of Bollywood’s biggest film stars is being criticised by Asian campaigners for promoting a skin-lightening cream – a product that is now on the shelves of British shops.

The 40-second advertisement from India starts like so many others promoting razors or hair dye – but it’s an ad with a very big difference.

There’s a man who has no luck with the girls. He has markedly darker skin than his friends and the girl he is after. In a real song-and-dance Bollywood extravaganza, one of the biggest heart throbs of Indian cinema, Shahrukh Khan, hands over a cream to the hapless chap, along with some mild admonishment.

Within a few weeks, the young man has turned much lighter-skinned and confident. As he strides down the road like a modern-day answer to John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever, the girls start flocking to him and chanting: “Hi handsome, hi handsome.” Khan comes back into view with the product, Fair and Handsome.

The skin-lightening cream for men, along with its more feminine counterparts, has found its way into Asian supermarkets and stores in the UK.

While Khan’s advert has not been shown yet in the UK, it too has made its way to British consumers via YouTube. And the product’s success or failure in the British market place may say something about the nature of beauty and the politics of race.

To read the full article.

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