Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Darkwati: A look at Bollywood's Fair and Lovelys

Just a few weeks ago I was talking to a friend and we got around to discussing Drona. Which led us both to Priyanka Chopra. Which in turn led my friend to say: "She is so dark!"

This surprised me a bit because I hadn't thought of Priyanka being, you know, like dark. But I was instantly interested because we all know how dark women get the shaft. Whether you prioritize marriage or your career, the amount of wheat in your complexion might well determine the pace of your progress.

I recall watching those hugely amusing Fair & Lovely advertisements on TV. Why, Maxdavinci even ranted about one a while ago. Remember when Fair & Lovely launched its line for men? I chuckled through one where a man is trying to save his fairness by applying the cream. Another man shows up and makes fun of him for using a girlie cream.

I could see the brainstorming session at the ad firm prior to nailing down the concept for that one. "Its not enough that we're racist" someone must have said. "We need to amp it up with cloaked misogyny wrapped around emasculating men!" Heads must have nodded.

To be fair, ads need to deliver a message clearly and quickly. So the more poorly constructed ones try to latch on to the basest of stereotypes. Still, those stereotypes exist within us.

I'm not just picking on desi commercials: you'll often find similar messages coded in commercials universally. For example, you'll hear the word "silky" a lot when it comes to hair although no one will come out and say "straight". Ditto for the use of the word "glowing" when it comes to skin.

Its often hard to categorically state if the lightness of someone's complexion is playing a role in their progress because there are so many variables at play. But most of us understand it. How else does one explain the prolonged career of gora chitta Zayed Khan? But I digress.

Back to the matter at hand: did Prachi Desai get the lead in Rock On over a more rounded performer like Shahana Goswami because she was fair or because she had a connection with Ekta Kapoor (cousin to Rock On director Abhishek Kapoor)? Did Prachi feature in the promos more than Shahana because she was fair or because she was the lead actor's chick?

You see what I mean? Arguments in the film industry are rife with all kinds of details you have to consider. Its hard to get absolute data points. And getting mired in the subtleties is one of the reasons why this system of discimination is in place, no?

With that in mind, I thought the time was ripe to do a Frivolous and Silly analysis of how the lightness of skin complexion plays a role in the making of a Bollywood superstar. I looked at as many Bollywood actresses as I could and divided them up into three categories.

The A-list: these actresses have enough hits under their belt that they have built a power base. They bow only to the biggest directors. Smaller directors refer to them as Madam and brag to their friends about how they have saved Madam's number in their cell phone. If you are A-lister, your chamchaas can fill a small stadium. Some have the box office clout to open a film on their own. All have a crowded appointment book.

The A-list is dominated by Fairwatis: Aishwarya, Katrina, Kareena, Preity, Rani are among others like Priyanka, Kajol and Bipasha.

Since I'm indulging in this rather crass exercise I gave them a fairness rating from 1 (Palewati) to 5 (Darkwati). In the Darkwati graphics in this post, 1 is the top of the scale, 5 is at the bottom.

The A-list has an average rating of 2.13. The median was 2, which is just short of really fair.

The B-list: one or two hits can lift an actress into the B-list. Here, you start showing up fairly regularly on Page 3. You still can't open a movie, your salary sucks but you don't have to audition as much and the parties are good. If one of your movie flops, you can always sign up for a Reality show on TV to feel better. Your chamchaas at this level can fit into in a medium sized school bus.

The B-list didn't fair as well on the Darkometer as the A-list did. I picked 12 actresses in this list: Vidya, Deepika, Amisha, Genelia, Esha, Shilpa Shetty, Tabu, Lara, Kangana, Amrita Rao, Gracy Singh and Diya Mirza. Average: 2.50, median: 3, which is bang in the middle of the Darkometer.

The C-list: these actresses are the ones who have made a lot of movies but are still trying to get cast. Often they have to audition. Most still carefully collect all press mentions in a scrapbook. A number of them wonder if they should just chuck it all and get married to a decent looking moneybags producer. At this level your entourage might fill up the gondola on a roller coaster. But barely.

The C-list fared a little worse, but not that much. This list has Malaika, Celina, Konkana, Soha Khan, Raima Sen, Mallika Sherwat, Minissha, Shahana, Koena, Sameera, Amrita Arora and Jiah. Average: 2.67, median: 3.

But enough number crunching. Looking at isolated cases is far more interesting.

If you are fairer than most, you fit a wide variety of roles. If you are dark, a couple of obvious career paths are available to you.

You can position yourself as a "dusky sex siren". This is the Bipasha Basu route. A newer actress barelling down this path is Jiah Khan.

Or you can compartmentalize yourself in the "serious actress" category. This is the Konkana Sen route. This seems to be the route of choice for Shahana Goswami. Waffle in between and you'll end up like Sameera Reddy.

There are a couple of exceptions in this space. Kajol is a bit of an anomaly. Besides being dark, she also has a fondness for her unabrow that defies explanation. She has managed to buck all of that to become one of Bollywood's most luminous stars although she's had to work extra hard in the acting department. And Priyanka has commandeered her considerable political savvy to grab a lot of attention despite being a 3 on the Darkometer. A wide variety of roles are offered to and availed of by both actresses.

This new emerging career path - where you don't have to commit to being either sex siren or serious - is entirely driven by early box office success. Kajol hitched her box office star to Shahrukh Khan and never looked back. Priyanka's career got an early boost through the back to back box office successes of Mujhse Shaadi Karoge and Aitraaz.

Without a doubt box office hits matter to everyone (Fairwati Katrina's against all odds ascension to the top of the Bollywood list of actresses has been fueled by serial hits), but lighter skinned actresses do seem to get a longer ride. Just look at this list for starters!

This new Darkwati career path is available to Genelia D'souza, who clocks in at 4 on the Darkometer. She's done sweet, wholesome roles that are entirely frothy. She's delivered hits (Masti, Bommarillu, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na).She's not slick enough to be Priyanka, but she could be a Kajol in waiting.

I wish her luck! (And while we are at it, guess who's done a Fair & Lovely ad before?)

A hazaar thanks to Joules for lending me her characteristic Stylista advice in this post!

Also:

78 comments:

m said...

HAHAHAHA ! love it love it love it

you is one funny cookie aspi.. the rating and the arrows.. OMG lollapalooza!

m said...

not to take any credit from joules either for her contribution!

Aspi said...

It had to be done. Too many people beat around the bush on this one.

meena said...

as usual great job with graphics Aspi.
given the outright way in which desi people share their likes and dislikes, I have had more cringeworthy moments where they didnt beat around the bush..

you may be right that fair gets a longer ride but I think talent/glamour/that-certain-something still trumps color on the top. How do you explain - Rekha, Sridevi, Madhuri and Kajol

come to think of it-fair may be a disadvantage in that respect. Aishwarya had to battle long and hard to get herself taken seriously.

Anonymous said...

Aspi, great writeup - but it is widely accepted in Bolly-land, right? (Or in India in general?) I don't see it as the Elephant in the room - it is wide open and in your face.

Bitterlemons

Kanan said...

*subscribe me* comment

ps. love love love the images in this post. :D happy wednesday!

girlie girl said...

LOL Aspi!! Awesome write-up. I love how even regular people get judged by the fairness of their skin...more so in India vs. here. When i was there, people would always tell me that becuse I'm fair (pale, IMO), I MUST be from a good family. For all they know, I could be from a khoon-kharaba family but my fairness explains all!!

Love the pics...Bravo to you and Joules!!

Aspi said...

Bitterlemons, no you're right. What I meant was being crass enough to rate everyone on a scale and publishing it :) I wasn't trying to get on a soapbox or anything - just wanted to have some unusual fun with this.

meena, individual cases are more interesting than drawing conclusions. But I don't think being fair and tall is a disadvantage. I think Aish struggled because of her looks not those two attributes.

What I'd really like to see is a darkwati get a free run like say Mamta Kulkarni.

j said...

This is very funny. And you are giving me more credit than I deserve :)

I think one of the reasons for the success of the kapoor khandaan has been their complexion. Karisma would not have gotten endless chances if she was'nt fair skinned. Kareena was so proud of her complexion that she kept referring to Bipasha as 'kali billi' during the filming of Ajnabee. Maybe that explains some of the insecurity Bips has had with her complexion.

I personally prefer Priyanka's skin tone to a lot of the goris. Most colors go well with that skin tone. That is the reason you see more vivid colors in Indian designs while a limited choice of colors in western/caucasian designs.

meena said...

..LOl I cant off hand think of any darkwati that got a free run but many palewatis that got it and fizzled..Saira Bano anyone.

..maybe not a disadvantage.I guess I was thinking of all the top guns so far, those with cross-generational and tremendous mass appeal, men or women actors ..got to say most are on the darker side (its fun to draw conclusions:)) that is until Hrithik came to buck the trend

Nikhil Narayanan said...

Aspi,

I was going to ask about Konkana types.Anyways you answered.

Nandita Das falls in this category?

-Nikhil

Aspi said...

nikhil, good point! Forgot about her because she hasn't been in our faces lately (how TMZ is that?!)

meena, maybe saira banu had a short run. But it was way too long as far as I was concerned. Some people are just torture.

So let's look at No. 1 actresses of the past and their darkometer:

Hema Malini (3)
Rekha (3)
Sridevi (2)
Madhuri (3)
Karishma (1)
Aishwarya (2)
Katrina (1)

Hmm...you have a point there.

meena said...

I think Sridevi is a 3. also if you are tagging the men..Rajesh Khanna 3
Amitabh Bachchan 3
SRK 4

meena said...

...this list is interesting... The trend was earthy south asian looking girls (Hema to Kajol) now the trend changed to ethereal and sophisticated (Aishwarya, katrina). Karishma would be transitional :)

why do you think..urbanization?

(btw you forgot kajol on the list)

NatC said...

Well I remember when I was in school , my best friend sister every day would use fair and lovely cream and when i asked her why she said oh I will get fair...and won't have prbs finding a boy friend...sad state of mind:( I just reconected with my friend and asked her about her sister...and she said oh....poor girl she spent half of dad money on the cream:) I just remembered this while reading the blog......well written Aspi.......but whether it was sridevi or rekha or hema...and in latest Kajol, Konkana, bipasha.....all are category 3 and they are the best there is....

blewgenes said...

great post!!!

we had a similar discussion after watching PriyankaC in Dostana and Fashion. But this is awesome!

btw you didn't mention Priyanka's fairness cream Ad

Lin said...

I know this is just basically a joke, but I, too, have a few differing opinions on the scales for a few of them.

Deepika and Aishwarya are both 2. But I think Deepika is darker than Aishwarya. By the same token, Aishwarya and Kareena are also both 2. But I think Kareena is lighter than Aishwarya. She's especially pale many times when she's not wearing make up or smeared in self tanner, or just had come back from some vacation somewhere.

And that's another thing. These people either really bleach their or put loads of make up.

Because--Rani sometimes also is darker than Ash.

Gracy Singh. I just saw her newest pics. Yeah, way lighter now.

maxdavinci said...

super sirjee!

but wait gracy singh? Only recently she proved her existence with a movie called 'deshdrohi', which created a lot of ripples!

else she is long forgotten.

I remember lara dutta taking her name on 'Koffee with Karan', just because nobody had taken her name in ages!

PS: luv your lists..

girlie girl said...

yeah, i remember Rani being really dark in her earlier movies like Ghulam or even Kuch Kuch Hota hai...

Aspi said...

Lin, I know we got a few of those ratings wrong. I think what you say about Kareena/Aish/Deepika makes sense. Now I wish I had ratings from 1 to 10 so we could have picked out the differences :(

So based on the comments the new yesteryear No. 1 list and ratings are:
Hema Malini (3)
Rekha (3)
Sridevi (3)
Madhuri (3)
Kajol (4)
(Transitional) Karishma (1)
Aishwarya (2)
Katrina (1)

I should point out that this trend suggests Celina will be the next No.1.

Hmmm...need to work on one for the men just for kicks.

Aspi said...

Here's how the actors seem to stack up:

Rajesh Khanna (3)
Amitabh Bachchan (4)
Aamir Khan (1)
Shahrukh Khan (4)
Akshay Kumar (3)

Lin said...

Aww, aspi. Don't be :(

We'll just say you used whole numbers. Perhaps Kareena is a 2.9 while Ash is 2.5 and Deepika is a 2?

As for Celina Jaitely--HAHAHAHAH. But maybe I shouldn't be laughing. Since she may take over, and then I will be cowering.

And yeah, girlie girl, I remember the darker Rani as well.

Deepa said...

This is fantastic Aspi... Totally enjoyed the write-up.. :o))

I agree with bitterlemons.. This divide between the palewati and the darkwati is as obvious as the divide between the rich and the poor. And bollywood is certainly the face of this 'wheat in the complexion' discrimination.

How else would you explain the 'too numerous to count' songs with lyrics that describe gore gaal, gora mukhda, gora badan and all those numerous songs on goris .... There are very few hindi film numbers that actually describe dusky women.. One that comes to mind is Raat Kali Ek Khwab Mein Aayi from the film Buddha Mil Gaya.. There might be a few more but they are few and far between..

But I'm rambling.. Kudos and looking forward to your next post.. :o))

musical said...

I agree with Lin and meena that several actresses who had darker skin tones, suddenly acquired much lighter complexion. And this includes Kajol, Shilpa Shetty (Bazigar, anyone-both had dusky skin tones, and looked great as is), Sridevi, Rekha, Madhuri (compare her earlier movies with Pukar!).

Deepa: In reference to the song you mentioned, the word is kali, as in a (flower) bud and not kaali, as in dark (or may be you refer to something in the rest of the song).

As for the preference for lighter skin tones, this seems to be prevalent all across Asia!! A famous Asian skin care brand is into marketing products that are "skin brightening". And this doesn't stop here. Companies like Lancome, Estee Lauder lso market their "fair/bright complexion" lines in Asia. I had a colleague tell me once, "Hey, people here in the US like to tan. Our (people in her home country) love for fair skin tone is something similar". Go figure.....

Aspi said...

I'm scared of Celina too!

Deepa welcome! Your comment reminded me of one of my favorite songs: the entirely hilarious "paani mein jale mera gora badan". More wonderful poetry has not been composed.

musical, related to the whole tanning thing: Kareena should really be called tanwati because of the fake bake look she has been sporting recently. And I've noticed her lips are looking like Himesh's of late.

Anonymous said...

why are Indians including your friend who commented on Priyanka, so hung up about skin color? Just shows ignorance and prejudiced ideas.
Let's judge actresses on their actign skills.

Mind Rush said...

Driftji, your brilliant post has clearly captured the imagination of a million readers. Mazel tov!

Your analysis integrates Indian history, Sociology, Gender studies, Film theory, Marketing, Fashion design and Photoshop. The goddess Markwati gives you an A+

Anonymous said...

fan sez...drift, you 2 intelligent for jus this blog. take your posts to some national rag. you better writer than most by a mile.

Aspi said...

Anon 1, skin color is always up for discussion in this world. How you chose to act on it is what matters. Case in point: the US elections. Its not just Indians who are hung up on it.

Anon 2, thank you ji. But the Drift is such a rag, I like it here the most.

Vinayak said...

Lol!
People making those fairness cream and fairness soap ads are really bright.
We don't Katrina(1) in those ads...who would believe them, instead, we see her doing hair remover cream ads. Ok! you are Fair, now better be Hairless!

Kanan said...

Aspi, loved the way you've decribed the As, Bs and Cs. No Karishma or Sushmita on the list eh... looks like they've retired now.

As for Zayed Khan, he looks more like a girl to me and I still can't believe he is Suzanne's brother. I didn't know he had a career. :P

Lin said...

Vinayak, they have tried to get Katrina. She refused to do ads for skin lightening products.

m said...

i don't believe that Katrina would say no to a skin lightening product endorsement. If they offer her some good $$ she wouldn't say no.. she isn't exactly one of the most socially aware or the most PC or smart actresses around

Vinayak said...

Lin,
That might be true. But what about Kareena (again 1 on Aspi's scale) also doing ads for hair remover cream. She did promote Boroplus...but that's not fairness cream. She promoted Garnier's fairness cream but then Esha took over from her. B-lister Esha on Aspi's scale is "in the middle of the Darkometer." I think we can conclude that A-listed really actually fair and lovely ones can only do ads for hair removal cream. And the one's B- list on mid scale of Darkometer can do fairness cream ads.

Deepa said...

Musical: no I was referring to the lyrics of the song.. Raat 'kali' is the title of the song but the lyrics actually refer to 'saawanli soorat, mohini moorat'.. :o)

Deepa said...

And while we are on the tanning issue, an American friend once told me that she envied me because I have a natural tan LOL... :D

girlie girl said...

music-wise, how could we forget Mehmood's great song "hum kale hai to kya hua dilwale hai!" Sorry, just like that song and i thought it fit in well with this topic!

I'll go away now...

kusublakki said...

Regarding color discrimination..its universal, and not just an Indian attitude..In London Indians are the last people to be served in an Indian restaurant if there's a gora customer.

Hillarious post and I loved the graphics!

Aspi said...

I think that hair removal cream + A-list Darkometer 1 actress connection is a pretty hilarious one. I will have to watch out for that. Maybe we should do a hair rating next to see which hair products go for which actresses. Boy, Joules will really have to help me with that one :)

Aspi said...

Also, where is Asif Z: I really worked hard to write a post that he would enjoy. Is the Internet down in P-tan?

aaa said...

What did your friend mean by "she is so dark"? Was it just an innocent observation or was it something else. I don't think such a remark should be justified by "skin color is always up for discussion in this world". This whole issue is so hurtful to so many girls - it is heartbreaking. Maybe you and your family (and that friend) are "fairwatis" and can't relate but when I hear any such sentiments from family or friends regarding anyone(and it happens too often) I let them know immediately how offensive I find their comment.

I know this is a humorous take on the whole color issue but thoughtless comments like your friend's shouldn't be dimissed out of hand.

Anonymous said...

Aspiji,

Just came back, and must comment on the darkometer levels of the yesteryears' actresses :-)
Rekha is darker-skinned than Hema - just does a good bleach/makeup job. If Hema is a 3, I'd rate Rekha as a 4. Madhuri is a 3? I've seen her here in the US, and I'd rate her as fair as Aish - so 2?

I love the corelation between A-list and hair-remover ads!

Bitterlemons

Aspi said...

aaa, I think my friend was just making an off the cuff comment.

If I remember the conversation I was talking about how Priyanka was built to be a star and said something like: she's got great teeth, great skin, she's tall, she has great hair and she is fair. And that prompted the "Nope she is actually dark" remark.

I understand your sentiment though. And I'm glad you stand up for it!

Bitterlemons your adjustments now make me want to interview a make up artist. We can ask them the bomb question: "I'm dark. How can make-up help me?" Tremendous insight will be gained.

Self Writeous said...

Who's done a Fair & Lovely ad before? hmmmm... Krishnamachari Srikanth, right?! :)

Nice post!

joules said...

I have an observation and needed the men here to back me up. This whole darkwati and palewati issues are usually brought up by women when talking about other women. Never heard my male friends make a big deal out of it. (They have other things to worry about :))

Also I think the value of being fair is a generational thing. My mom and her generation would always make comments like "someone is beautiful despite her color" or someone is so beautiful because they are fair.

I see less of this in my generation and even lesser in the future generation. Hence Kareena has a need to apply tanning creams and Priyanka does'nt bleach herself too much.

Aspi said...

joules you are right about the generational thing. The breakdown of the traditional arranged marriage that was in place about 20 years ago has also helped. All we have to do is get rid of F&L and things might look up.

About the gender observation - I'm still thinking. At the outset you may be right but I wonder if men code it in somewhere and just don't articulate it.

musical said...

Deepa: He he, thanks :). I am really bad at remembering lyrics ;). Oh, and i have gotten that "you have a natural tan" comment several times too.

Btw, what about on Jolen, Fem and the likes, you know, the bleach industry? They pretty much do the same thing. Remember Sonali Bendre in the Fem ad: "Gori, gori".

Aspi, Kareena's fake bake is way better than Gauri Khan's though :-D.

Anonymous said...

Aspi-
Plenty of guys on Shaadi.com still look for fair or v. fair girls. One guy who said he didn't care, changed it to fair immediately after we exchanged pictures. So to Joules' point, I still think there are PLENTY of Indian guys who look for fairness.
-H&R

meena said...

..are these the same guys that are looking for that other great Indian characteristic 'homely' :)

Aspi said...

Out: skin color bias
In: eye color bias

Celina Jaitley faces color bias...

Celina said...

Aspi, thanks for publicizing the kind of crap I have to put up with in the industry.

Would you believe that I took violin lessons for a whole week. But when I played violin in my bikini for Janasheen there were people saying that I was faking it!!

It all makes me so mad! Why are gorgeous women like me picked on in this industry? Grrr.....!

Deepa said...

Joules: I agree with anonymous and meena in that men do have these biases as well. Just check out the numerous matrimonial ads. The men (and/or their families) always want a fair, beautiful, educated but 'homely' girl LOL... But perhaps women are more vocal about this than men.

And I agree with you that it
might be a generational thing. I have relatives (aunties I might add) who categorise people (girls) into beautiful and not beautiful based on skin colour. But I don't see the same attitudes amongst my cousins so perhaps there's hope!! :-))

Revathi said...

i would like to see a movie today with the heroine really really dark- like the majority indian woman. There are a lot of men sporting their own colors- why are women lightening up with make up? I remember Smitha Patil and Nanditha Das as the only two women who portrayed an average indian woman in her true color. Really really dark.

Ramesh Srivats said...

Wow. That's a lot of research :-). Dark or fair, imagine what would happen if Bollywood ruled our country (officially I mean). - http://www.rameshsrivats.net/2008/11/salman-khan-for-prime-minister.html

Vinayak said...

Revathi, mention of Smitha Patil remides me of her masala movie 'Badle Ki Aag'. In a classic scene she confronts her lover Daku Shera (Dharmendra)who is having crazy dreams of (relatively)gori Geeta (Reena Roy). Smitha ask him is it just because "main kaali hu".

Bollywood has a formula for every skin tone.

joules said...

I agree some guys (specially the ones looking for matches for themselves) ask for a fair colored bride but I think innocuous remarks by women are more responsible for young girl's self esteem. I usually think twice as hard as what to wear when I am in mixed company then when I am just going out with the guys.

This reminds me of watching tv with my niece and Shilpa Shetty was on TV. My niece asked me what I thought of her and at the moment I just said "I dont like her. She has a small forehead" and exaggerated that her hair line starts from her eyebrows. Later I found my niece measuring her forehead in the mirror.

Aspi said...

We need Mind Rush to come in and validate Joules' theory. Now that Revathi mentions it: if the men are relative free from this, then the question is, who keeps this system in place for the women?

meena said...

I hope its a generational thing.. but my experience has been that its a 'goris' in the family thing..thats how some families tend to get more gori-obsessed.

my own attitude about this I get from my unwordly mom (dark herself and a school teacher to boot). never in all the years growing up did I hear her praise anyone or put down anyone based on appearance/color. Imagine my surprise when I realized how much 'color' matters to the inlaws ...and whaddya know, I soon discovered that the women in that family were generally caring, liberal, well educated but LIGHT skinned and unthinkingly vocal in their preference :(
..but the hubs now..his biggest on screen crush so far was Anu Agarwal of Aashiqui fame..a darkwati if there ever was one :)

Aspi said...

Speaking of Darkwati crushes: I've had one for the longest time on Lauryn Hill. And after she went all crazy bananas and off the deep end? Still Hot!

minnie said...

regarding this topic..need to clarify that i havent logged in for so long because i was on bedrest(i delivered twins 2 months ago) ...aspi, remember me?
anyways..i have a baby girl(fair) and a baby boy (wheatish) and actually have to listen to snide comments about how when both my hubby and I are so fair and my baby boy is of a different skin tone.....guess our society needs to grow up!

Nida said...

Hi Aspi!

Trying to catch up on your posts--been gone for awhile during school!

Anyways, I am a makeup artist (used to work for MAC cosmetics, did a lot of freelance work) and I used to be so confused when I would see Asian(not only Indian women, but East Asians as well) women come to me looking for lighter foundation colors than their skin tone. Now, since I've been learning about Eastern culture (and my own--I'm half Pakistani), I'm beginning to understand. No, I don't think women should be "hung up on" this kind of stuff, but as you put it, this goes on all over the world, not just in India. And here in the West, it's not necessarily skin color, but weight. Women obsess here about their dress size as much as fair skin is emphasized in the East. The key message is that everyone should be comfortable with themselves, as that exudes the truest beauty (Sigh-sorry for getting preachy), but that's in a perfect world, isn't it?

Oh, and to answer your question, can makeup actually change skin color...well, not really. A few points-

It would -and does--take an incredible amount of time each day in the beauty routine to alter skin color with makeup. You can't just put a lighter color on and head out the door. I suppose it can be done with lots of blending (into the neck and other regions) and contouring with a bit of bronzer. This goes for darkening skin as well. But who has time for that? Not an everyday woman. Maybe a woman who has five makeup artists and stylists at her beck and call? Maybe a woman who can acheive this look for a special photo shoot or shot? Yep, I think that explains why some actresses appear lighter in photos and films than they actually are--a true test would be to see them in person.
Also, Skin color is relative--What may be dark to someone may appear fair to someone else. And Aishwarya may not be considered fair if she was in a room of very light skinned women. That's why you could revise your list ten times and you'll still find errors in it-

There are also undertones (Areas in the shadows of the skin, hands, sides, neck) and overtones (highlighted areas such as middle of forehead, apples of cheeks) to consider, which gets too complicated for anyone to break down. For example, I've never seen Ash in person, but from looking at a good amount of her photos, I'm willing to bet she has darker, olive brown undertones but happens to have lighter overtones(the "wheatish" term everyone seems to use). I'm half Pakistani, and have a unique mix of my German mother's peach/ruddy skin and my Pakistani father's olive brown skin. I don't have such dark undertones, but have a lot of golden yellow in my skin which gives me more color in my overtones than Ash--so does that make Ash lighter than me? It's debatable. Sorry, this is probably getting too confusing! Anyways, my point is, skin color is such a vast variety that its almost impossible to put it on a scale.

Thanks Aspi for the post! I enjoyed reading about it, and loved your dark-o-meter scales nonetheless :)

Aspi said...

Hey minnie, congratulations! Wow, twins. I hope you've heard of that time saving laundry basket trick. The one where you put both kids in one, dip them in a tub with soapy water and bail them out. Its called a bath.

Aspi said...

Nida, hope school goes well. And thanks for the breakdown of the whole make up thing. I feel tremendously educated.

I also now understand why some women, after make up, look terribly ghastly when photographed by a point and shoot camera as opposed to in a studio.

megan said...

i think this picture will fit in here?

mom got this email from somoene with a caption

http://img116.imageshack.us/my.php?image=wtfwz1.jpg

"Yashomati maiya se bole Obama, Hillary kyun gori Mai kyun Kala

Disclaimer: no offense intended if its offensive :( sorry in advance

Aspi said...

I'm not touching that one :) except to say that the Photoshopping is pretty cool.

theBollywoodFan said...

Hey Aspi! The subject, which has always warranted concern and as you say, is universal. I really would like to see Bollywood do better with and keep the use of the word 'gora' to a minimum to not imply exclusivity (someone call the diplomacy police!).

Of course, it's likely okay when used for a 'gori mem' in 1893 =)

Isn't Jiah Khan appearing in only her second film next month?

Aspi said...

I heard Jiah's been doing some Tollywood films. Which reminds me: I'm out of South Indian films to watch.

Meena hasn't recommended anything in a while - very bad!!

meena said...

OMG Aspi, lately telugu soaps keep playing at home (MIL is visiting) ..if you think the hindi soaps are bad, you should see the rona dhona slapfest that goes on here...ha ha..hubs and I counted one title sequence that had 9 slaps no less...

anyway will have some good movies soon (maybe tamil this time)..

Aspi said...

All right. I hear this Surya guy is good but I don't want to watch Ghajini :)

theBollywoodFan said...

I could certainly use some recommendations for South Indian films. Not that Bollywood doesn't give me enough to keep busy with (sorry, I have my loyalties, and can be pretty biased, LOL), but I've only seen Bommarillu, which I enjoyed tremendously. Any other Genelia D'Souza or Asin works anyone would recommend?

Pitu said...

Hehe I remember our discussion ;-)

meena said...

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/3890821.cms

progres...

Aspi said...

well done, Aish! Regarding that mosquito repellent cream she turned down: I heard the advertisers got all cheeky and made the mosquitos in the likeness of Amar Singh. So between copious belly laughs and eye rolls, she had to regretfully say NO.

Anonymous said...

crap all of it's a bunch of bullshit

first of all there all wrong, wow indians are really stupid

aishwarya-dark
vida baylan-dark
kangana-wheatish
and the list goes on

you guys are sick grown up

Aspi said...

Anon, we'd take you more seriously if you could spell and express yourself properly in English. Try again - what is the point you are trying to make?

Anonymous said...

fuck you aspi dark bitch

Aspi said...

Nope still not there. Try again. Make sure you say something that can be well understood.

Anonymous said...

Great article. Very well articulated points.

For me personally though I don't much care if the actress is fair or a bit darker. If you're hot you're hot - skin colour doesn't factor into it for me. Thats just my choice though.

h0tties indian actress blog