Taking to her verified Instagram handle, Suhana Khan writes, Black in Hindi is Kaala, and the female word for it is Kaali. Putting forward some rude and nefarious comments that she has received through the years for the complexion of her skin, she pens down how “fair skin” is not only preferred over “brown” or darker skin in our society, but the ones with darker skin tones are often subjected to the meanest comments that leave the recipient scarred.
Daughter of Bollywood’s power couple Shah Rukh and Gauri Khan, Suhana Khan is blessed with a rich and healthy earthy complexion. The 20-year-old narrates how she has faced scathing criticism for her complexion since the age of 12.
A mature girl, Suhana conceals the names of the trolls but the nasty comments put all readers to shame. Yes. This is the society we inhabit. The preference for fairer skin that speaks of a colonial hangover is not an Indian thing per se. It is a characteristic that defines the mental limitations of the average Asian demography, including Pakistan and Bangladesh. China too is not completely free of it. We all have witnessed colorism in some form or other in our families, schools, or colleges. What Suhana Khan faced at the hands of these trolls was not fair. Colorism is real, and it is a problem. No two ways about it.
Yes, there’s a ‘But’ in here. Can Suhana Khan even complain of the prevalent colorism or reservation against darker skin when her own super-star father promotes Fair & Handsome? There are commercials featuring Shah Rukh Khan endorsing “a fairness product to fitness enthusiasts, army personnel, and Pehelwaans. What on earth does skin color have to do with being a lionhearted soldier or Pehelwaan. All these commercials end with glamorous women eyeing, fancying, borderline salivating over these now fair men.
As a national icon, a status that Shah Rukh Khan enjoyed for the longest time, the actor could have played an eminent role in bringing a shift in our society’s collective mind-set. Instead, SRK advanced the dated notion of fail skin being the ultimate achievement.
He danced to “Yeh kaali kaali ankein, yeh gore gore gaal” flirting with a dusky-skinned girl. Why creating an illusion of fairness around an actress who is clearly not fair-skinned?
Why not, “Yeh kaali kaali ankhein, yeh bhure bhure gaal” when the brownness of the actress is evident on screen? Why not making bhure gaal acceptable and desirable, and worth adulating, when one has the power to influence the viewpoint of an entire generation of cinephiles in a cinema-loving world? Like, you can’t even give true compliments to a brown skin girl.
Yes, Suhana Khan’s concern is not unwarranted. This should have been voiced years ago; better late than never. But, before taking to Instagram and talking to the million fans she collected by the virtue of being a star-kid, we hope she did walk to her star daddy and talk to him as well. Change, like charity, should start from the home.