Sonal Sehgal’s Short Film Talks about the Dark Skin Prejudice We All Have

12 . Apr . 2017
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Sonal Sehgal will finally release her film, ‘Dancing In the Dark’ about discrimination of women for their dark skin. The film has been inspired by real events.

During a recent interview, Sonal said that when she first shifted to Mumbai, she worked in an ad for fairness creams that paid her rent for the whole year.

However, later, when her maid asked her which cream would make her look fairer, the problem hit home – and Sonal understood that she unwittingly worked towards creating the dark skin prejudice too.

Women facing discrimination for their dark skin is not new, and it is grabbing headlines because of recent incidents. When Tarun Vijay spoke about how we accept the South Indians even though they are dark, it was clear that the fundamental thought about racism and discrimination as wrong.

Sonal also said that Tannistha Chatterjee, who was recently in the news for walking out of Krushna Abhishek’s ‘Comedy Nights Bachao’ because of the unsavoury comments about her dusky skin, encouraged Sonal to release the film now.

Just last week a politician’s racial remark sparked a wide scale uproar across social media. As I read the article online, I realized, according to this man, he wasn’t being racist. This prejudice against a darker skin tone runs so deep in our society that it has become acceptable. Why else would someone say something like this on national tv or hoards of tv commercials advertising “how to become six shades lighter” be bombarding our tv screens and nobody has a problem with it. The same evening, I went over to my new neighbour, Tannishtha’s house for a cuppa. As we chatted about everything from films to housemaid problems to which new ‘herbal tea’ I had discovered, the topic of this politician’s remark came up. We both were equally disturbed and perplexed about how had we, as a nation, come to this. Not long ago, Tannishtha Chatterje, a renowned actress, a huge name in the Independent film circuit, having garnered innumerable accolades around the world was made the subject of ‘racist jokes’ on a prime time tv show. Our conversation opened the floodgates of memory. I used to be like that. Dealing with my own day to day struggles I didn’t have time to reflect on the social evils plaguing our society. 2003, fourteen years ago, I moved to Mumbai to chase my dream of becoming an actor. One of my first modelling jobs was for a “Fairness Soap”. Believe me, everybody congratulated me on having landed such a plum assignment. The money was good enough to pay for my entire year’s rent. That was it. I was sorted. I didn’t think beyond that. Cut to 2008 – I was the face of two huge TV series on prime time network and my housemaid, Gangu, took pride in working for me. She was my show runner. Without her, I wouldn’t have survived in Mumbai. One morning, Gangu came up to me with two different brands of fairness creams and asked me which one did I use. I suddenly realized how I had failed her. Her and millions of beautiful dark skinned women across the country who now believed that I am fair skinned because I use these creams! Without me realizing I had become part of a mafia undermining the self esteem of beautiful dusky Indian women.In 2013, I decided to take a sabbatical and study filmmaking. I enrolled myself in Film school in New York. I came back flush with a new set of skills. I was now older, wiser and I wanted to make a difference. In 2015, I made this short film titled ‘Dancing in the dark’, on a subject I deeply felt about. I didn’t find any funders or voices to support my own. Only a handful of friends who helped make this film. My subject was “exposing the dark side of fairness creams”. I was up against a huge industry not only funded by large sums of money but propelled by deep rooted prejudices in our society. How ‘fair equals beautiful’ making beauty ‘skin deep’. ‘Fair also equals successful’ as depicted in many fairness creams ads. I didn’t find any takers for my film and was advised to let it stay in my hard drive, that “it was too big a fight to fight alone”.2017 – As we discussed “Mr Politician so graciously living with South Indians”, Tannishtha reminded me of the short film I had made a couple of years ago. She told me it was time to get it out of the hard drive. A close friend and somebody who has always stood up for women, I had shown the film to her two years ago and we talked at length about this issue. But at the time, we just left it at that. Living room conversation. Today I feel responsible for letting this kind of racism perpetrate in our society. For not speaking up. So I am finally uploading my voice on film. To try and make a difference. And correct a wrong.- Sonal SehgalMaking this film would not have been possible without these people who believed in this cause and in me. Thank you Shiven Surendranath, Naresh Kamath, Ratika Ram Kumar, Bakul Sharma, Vivek Madan, Jovian Soans and Jaideep Mahajan Parull Gossain

Nai-post ni Sonal Sehgal noong Martes, Abril 11, 2017