Should Foreign Girls be Prevented from Acting as Indians in Bollywood Films?

Posted by Ranjit Rodricks
May 18, 2012
Amy Jackson

Amy Jackson

Angela Jonsson

Angela Jonsson

With the advent of foreign actresses in Bollywood – like Amy Jackson, Angela Jonsson and others of their ilk – there is a certain group of actresses out there who are pretty insecure about their careers being taken over by these “fair and lovely” girls.

Of course, the fixation a number of Indians have with fair skin, is a contributing factor to the success of these models / actresses.

But it isn’t an actress who is speaking out against this trend! It’s a man – Rock On director, Abhishek Kapoor. Check out what he has to say on Twitter:

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

Abhishek Kapoor speaks out against Caucasian actresses in Bollywood

What do you think? Should we welcome foreigners to Bollywood,with open arms? Or stop them at the luggage conveyor-belt at the airport itself?

Disclaimer: Pix are for representational purposes only! We are not suggesting that Abhishek Kapoor is in any way mentioning the two actresses in particular!

Leave A Comment
  • pallavi delhi

    yes they should be banned,India has a lot of talent ,yet to be explored

  • Akshata

    Totally agree. This does not send across the right message or the right intent. They are not here to take over the industry post Katrina! (the actress and the pun intended) Its sad how everyone ignores the Indian beauties… take Parineeti Chopra as an example. Talent and beauty does exist in the country!! :)

  • elton

    I am ALL for indian talent. As a domestic hair&makeup artist, i find the same applies to all jobs… including mine. i ahvent worked on an indian model at shoots in a while! however, i also believe that everyone has a right to thrive, and prove their mettle wherever they see fit. if angelina jolie could play Mrs.Pearl of another race, we wouldnt hold it against her! i think an actors primary job is to play pretend… so its not nice to give way to hateful sentiments. we must learn from it and strive harder to overcome natural feelings of insecurity.

    culturally, we have not only learned but also taught to the rest of the world. we, the masses, tend to love everything foreign and white. where there is demand, there must be supply. simple truth, this. i really miss seeing beautiful Indian women more often at work, but i appreciate the foreign imports as well. some of them have something substantial to contribute while some dont. if our indian doctors, and scientists, and musicians can contribute their skills abroad and earn themselves a dignified living, why shouldnt it be appreciated the other way ’round?

  • Priyankeshu

    Well, this is indeed funny. IN a global world where Indian actresses go and work abroad in Hollywood, where Indian directors go and work abroad there are still people who put bounds on the name of skin color.

    What matters is a good story, compelling conflict. Globalization is a good thing.

    But the comments do show that Indian women are feeling a bit insecure. They don’t have to. Nobody can replace Indian Beauty!

    PS: Color is not always important. I don’t know when people will start thinking that black is a beautiful color! I smell sense of slavery in this black or white game!

  • Melissa

    It’s difficult isn’t it? Because on the one hand you have people like Amy Jackson, who was just awful playing an Indian girl, but then you also have people like Kalki Koechlin who, while definitely white/European, IS Indian. She was born and raised in India. I have no problem with Kalki portraying an Indian girl if she likes–at least she can act well. But I don’t like seeing producers rope in all these foreign models (white, Brazilian, what have you) and asking them to pretend to be Indian. It’s insulting both to real Indian actors and also viewers. We’re not stupid–we know Amy Jackson isn’t Indian, isn’t voicing her own lines, doesn’t walk around wearing saris all day, etc. It’s ridiculous of producers to think they’re fooling anyone.

    Above all else what *should* matter is acting skill, not skin color. Actresses like Amy aren’t being cast because they’re good actresses (they aren’t, they’re horrible), they’re being cast because they’re white. If a director really likes a white actress and wants her to star in his film then he/she should rearrange the script so that the actress isn’t portraying an Indian woman. The character can be made to be foreign as well so that the actress fits the role. Otherwise it’s just insulting.

  • judy

    Indians really ARE racist and dont even realize it… Incredible India?!?

  • kofykat

    Seriously…. this needs to stop. It’s horrid enough that there’s a divide between fair and “non fair” people and name calling in that aspect. Why should we accept these girls here? I’d like to see Indian men keep quiet if white men started playing the leads.

  • stuti

    from the perspective of skin colour, anushka sharma is really fair too :P but i get the point.promotion of indigenous talent…

  • purrmaid

    i feel these so called ‘white girls’ can act in indian movies..but that’s exactly what they must do..ACT. often these girls are nothing but a publicity stunt, and this is not limited only to foreign actresses but also to some indian actresses who are roped in only for their pretty faces. if they film wishes to have solely eye candy, that’s fine. but at least give us movies worth shelling out multiplex money for! a remotely new storyline, good laughs and a bit of originality is all i ask for.

  • 390

    Indians really ARE racist and dont even realize it… Incredible India?!?

  • elton

    i agree with you 390, and judy…. this whole topic is just dancing on racist undercurrents… im Indian, and i do feel a slight disappointment when i lose out a good shoot to an international artist, but i channel my strengths more than my weaknesses into feeling happy for the person thats booked for the job, as opposed to juggling blame for what i could see as a personal loss. i think its very important to learn to embrace ones sense of self, and be comfortable in ones owns shoes.

    Yes, i agree that more often than not, an Indian girl can play an Indian girl better than a foreigner… but blame Casting, not the foreigner. in blaming the ‘Caucasian Invasion,’ we make the whole point take on a racist perspective. Indian women are not only beautiful, but also strong. The health of our psyche shud not be defined by other peoples careers. If as an artist i find myself at a crossroad with no work at all, id reconsider career options.

  • Kiara

    The comments on this thread do not get the point. Why is it ONLY Indian WOMEN who are replaced with WHITE women? The Indian audience would NEVER accept a BLACK woman in a lead role. And a White MAN would never be accepted and loved by the audience. So YES when a White woman is cast as an INDIAN woman it shows that director’s are being racist towards Indian women.

    Why do you think that girls like Nargis Fakhri and Amy Jackson are cast in movies despite having NO TALENT and not being able to even SPEAK HINDI? Because Indian men have a fetish for White skin. It’s e same reason why all the FEMALE backup dancers are WHITE but all the MALE backup dancers are INDIAN. It’s not only racist but also sexist.

    I have NO PROBLEM with White women who are talented being cast as White women in Bollywood films. But when a WHITE woman is cast as an INDIAN woman it causes problems. All of these fairness creams and complexes only exist because the Indian media is constantly INFLUENCING Indian women to hate their Indian looks and telling them that the only way they can be pretty is if the have fair skin and Causaisan features. This is why actresses like like Priyanka and Bipasha are forced to LIGHTEN their skin to look FAIR.

    You can look at ANY film industry like the Chinese, Japanese, Nigerian or Mexican film industry and they NEVER make White women pretend to be local women. It’s only in INDIA where we have NO VALUE for our own women and have such a big INFEIRORITY complex that only White women are superior.

  • Kiara

    And the author of this post TOTALLY misses the point. It’s NOT about Indian women being JEALOUS Or INSECURE. It’s about the media sending out a HARMFUL MESSAGE that typical Indian looks and skin tone are UGLY and making young girls feel TERRIBLE about themselves.

  • Kiara

    Elton: White doctors, engineers, MNC executives and bankers can come work in India in the same way that Indians go and work abroad. And talented White actresses can come work in roles for WHITE characters in Bollywood. As long as a White woman gets a job because of her TALENT nobody has a problem. But when Bollywood EPXLOITS the FAIRNESS FIXATION of Indian women by only casting LIGHT-SKINNED EXOTIC backup dancer and actresses and trying to misrepresent the Caucasian looks as Indian looks then it is a big PROBLEM.

    These women are getting cast for their SKIN COLOUR and darker skinned Indian women are being denied roles and opportunities because of their SKIN COLOUR. This is RACIAL DISCRIMINATION. It’s SICK that in a country where the MAJORITY of women have brown skin all the models and actresses are light-skinned Indians or Caucaisan girls. This is VERY HARMFUL for innocent little Indian girls who have no SELF CONFIDENCE because they think that they are DARK and UGLY. And when Bollywood NECER employs White MEN why should they only put down INDIAN WOMEN and make them feel bad by constantly casting WHITE women in roles meant for INDIAN characters.?

  • Roxanne

    Well said Kiara..
    But I also agree with Elton. Its the casting team that is to blame! So many white girls want to make it into Bollywood, because believe it or not, our film franchise is even more bigger than Hollywood, we make more movies a year and so on. And its the direction/production team that has to be blamed for casting that particular foreigner in an ‘Indian’ role. Just like how the makers of Prince of Persia cast Jake G as a Persian in the movie. Who really is to blame for this?
    And of course audience is to be blamed as well. Why did people go and watch Rockstar for instance? Girls went for Ranbir and the guys went for Nargis. It was a win-win situation for all wasn’t it?

    Once when I was working with a stylist/designer, an aspiring director/veteran actor wanted to make a movie about this tribal village that lived somewhere in the country. And was discovered by mistake by lost travelers. And there were these group of dancers, and the main lead dancer was a foreigner who did not speak a bit of English nor was she pretty nor could she dance. Whose fault is that now? Not the girls but obviously the person who ‘cast’ her in.

    And then lastly there is this huge group of people (more than half of the country) that is brain washed by fairness ads and thinks that fair is beautiful! So many of those ads depict that a girl cannot become as airhostess, get a boy to like her, become a singer and then after ‘becoming fair’ she ‘becomes confident’ and gets whatever she wants. So that means us ‘darker’ shades should have no hopes right?
    And what hopes can we even have when now in movies, preference is given to fairer people even for a very Indian role? Who are they trying to fool?

  • Jeffery

    umm..both the pictures are those of Amy Jackson’s. The 2nd one too..that’s not Angela!

  • MissMalini

    Quite a debate we’ve got going here, I agree that everyone has a right to pursue their dreams but it’s becoming increasingly alarming (what with all these whitening products) that our perception of beauty is tragically flawed. I worry that casting foreign girls (obviously fair/white) over “brown desi girls” just adds to the stereotype that dark is ugly and fair is lovely.

  • sha

    Beauty and skin sells, acting talent doesn’t sell. Biggest example: Katrina Kaif. bad acting in so many movies! But still she got many roles. She maybe hard working but i still don’t believe her when she’s acts. Directors must think:If Kat can make it..why can’t other foreign girls..If they r talented, like Kalki, that would b another story..

    It just a money making business.. Which affect young Indian girls and woman negatively that white is beautiful..

  • Kiran

    These WHITE women in Bollywood cannot read, write, speak or understand Hindi – the language they are filming in. They donot know what Indian culture is or what it means to be an Indian woman. Yet, the directors are casting them in films as Indians, for what is fairly obvious reason – their skin color. These whiite girls are not seasoned thespians – they cannot act/ emote to save their lives.
    It’s good that at least a debate is happening on this issue. When a small city girl sees these women as the supposed “Indian” ideal, it makes them incredibly insecure & gets them into the whole skin fairness cream thing. It is very damaging for the psyche. People who influence media should be much more responsible in shaping the attitudes in a country with literacy rates like ours.

  • elton

    hey Kiara,
    sorry i dint reply any sooner… thank you for saying wat you did… i absolutely understand where ur coming from when u talk abt playing ones own race… thats a nicer sentiment… it shows ur not a bigot and that you care enough to look out for your own. but i hope u can see where im coming from too… i understand fully how the ideal of beauty in our minds is warpe because of what we are exposed to… bollywood is the biggest influence sadly, and celebrities r just doing a JOB like we all do…. keeping up their lifestyles and saving for their futures… im 100% against the principle of fairness products etc. but today if we give in to believing that caucasians must not play another race in indian cinema, tmrw we might be forced into believing that caucasians cant play traditional orthodox roles, or canot wear saris and go to a temple… see what i mean? it wud be bizarre!

    i studied this in class once: when forced to choose between family and society, man must pick society, when forced to choose between society and country, pick country, between country and world, pick the world… its about the bigger picture. because in the bigger picture, there is objective perspective and sane judgment.

    we need a ban on these fake ideals of beauty… on the weak principle and perspective, on the message.. not on the messengers.

    i personally know Amy, and she is on the loveliest most hard-working actors ive met. i respect that. shes only 20, and is a young achiever. Everyone makes mistakes. We all do. Lets look at teh bigger picture, and allow people a chance to grow. Their intentions are as noble as ours. i believe they deserve as much respect and acceptance as long as theyre sincere, hardworking, and good human beings.

  • Kiran

    @Kiara Your reasoning is flawed. I cannot accept if Rajnikant plays a punjabi. Even though Rajnikant is a very good actor and a superstar, he cannot speak Punjabi or look like a Punjabi. The same goes for WHITE people pretending to be Indian in a Bollywood movie. They donot look Indian & cannot act like an Indian women. Their whole body language is wrong. Let’s not even get into their diction & understanding of Hindi- by any standards a very basic requirement for anyone aspiring to be an actor in Bollywood.

    Amy Jackson may be a very nice person. No one will have any problem is she plays a Caucasian woman & speaks her dialogue in English. The problem arises when she tries to play a middle class conservative Malayali girl in a Bollywood movie. It just did not look remotely authentic or true. Let her just stick to playing a foreigner in Hindi movies & no one will have an issue.

    PS: But Rajnikant is a Maharastrian brought up in Karnataka who plays Tamil superheroes. But it doesn’t look odd because he knows the Tamil language & culture well. He respects the people enough that he learnt fluent Tamil so much so that people are actually shocked to find out that he is not a Tamilian. That is so not the case with the WHITE “actresses” in Bollywood.

  • Melanie

    The big problem with these girls is not so much that they’re white, but that they’re not actresses, and most aren’t even familiar with Hindi films to know what required of them. So acting is awful, dancing is awful, etc. And then it’s a detriment to the films because it looks inauthentic.

    Agreed with whoever above said globalization was a good thing though – Indian actresses go abroad to work also, I don’t think it’s fair to say no foreign actresses should be working in India – but at least you hope they are actual actresses, and they play roles better suited to their abilities.

    As far as the language goes – to be fair, lots of actresses from the south come to Hindi films without knowing Hindi (Kalki didn’t know Hindi before she started either). And furthermore, everything is dubbed anyway, so that’s an easy fix.

    It is a shame if Indian actresses are losing roles to crappy foreign non-actresses simply because of skin color – the criticism should be on these directors though, for making ridiculous casting choices.

  • elton

    melanie makes a very valid point!! thanks mel.

    but i do think a lot of indian actors too CANT act to save their lives! and yet they churn out blockbusters and have major fan following… so i say this: subscribe to movies u like, dont subscribe to the ones u dont!

    and @Kiran: ur being racist and its so impolite.

  • Teva

    Bollywood is slowly turning into the American porn industry. Parallel cinema needs to start making $$$. Story telling has gone out of style(a horrible sign), and bollywood has become a means for the sexually repressed to vicariously experience eroticism. But since most of the indian men have experienced such few women if any, they have ridiculous expectations and don’t understand what really matters in a woman. I feel these ridiculous casting decisions are just escalating, and bollywood is again in another dark age.

  • MissMalini

    @Teva, sad but true… I guess the “formula” of the formula film needs to be revisited? Also how ironic that our “dark age” is so full of whitening products.
    @Elton doesn’t it drive you nuts?

  • elton

    lol… @Malini… yes its making me crazyyyyyyy… in a selfish and ideal world of my own, i wudve loooooooooooooooved to do a ‘go back simon’ on all the makeup/hair simons in india… but i realize that as a culture, we have come a long way… and even as an artist… im now comfortable in my own skin… and whatevers meant for me in this world, i shall embrace… make the most of what i can i suppose. the rest is for someone else to share with :-)

  • Angel

    I think that the Indian entertainment industry and mass media industry are degrading the Indian people, if they cast foreign women.
    It also appears that these foreign women don’t care about the psyche of Indian women. Or are they so naïve and do they really think they are so special?!
    I’m Indian, (although not raised in India) my skincolor is like cholocat, I’m happy with my appearance.
    But I know a lot of people aren’t happy about their appearance, especially about their skincolor. This beauty ideal based on skincolor is The most irrational beauty ideal I’ve ever know. Beauty ideals are irrational anyway..

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  • dudu

    Indeed globalization is a good thing but if its really about globalization then african women shoud be hired as actresses aswell but are they? Nope. Are white actors hired? Nope. Just the white women. The truth is that the Indian film industry DOES discriminate agains dark skinned women and most of the white women are simply being hired because they are white, not because they are talented.

  • dudu

    Songs praising fair skin and top bollywood actors and actresses only add fuel to the fire.

  • K

    I definitely think this is a problem – there seems to be a major form of cultural appropriation lately in Bollywood by white women. Although some have argued that Indian actresses have appeared in Hollywood… it’s not the same thing, because white people have spent literally centuries imposing (and continuing to impose) our culture and our values on others so that we are the “norm.” It’s white supremacy that makes this so disturbing and sad – when you tell dark skinned Indian women that their skin is not light enough (white supremacy) and then hire women who are not Indian and are lighter-skinned to play the roles of Indian women (cultural appropriation, white supremacy)… that’s a pretty strong and toxic message in many ways.

  • Raj

    I have no problem with white women working in Bollywood or anywhere in the Indian modeling or movie industry as long as white people reciprocate. How much do they reciprocate, watch the recently released movie: the Impossible…a story based on the 2004 Asian tsunami…not many Asians in that film. I live in the US. The problem is white people only want a one way street. They want the right to work in non-white countries, but dont like non-whites in their country. Many white expats in Asia and the Middle East hold this view, especially the Brits and the Aussies.

  • Raj

    “Songs praising fair skin and top bollywood actors and actresses only add fuel to the fire.”

    Pretty disgusting that Amitabh Bacchan Sings this nonsense!!

  • fuckwhitey

    This is pathetic. indians overseas dont get shit in the local film industry yet bollywood gladly spreads out a clean red carpet and bends over, spreads butt cheeks to accommodate a caucasion dick. It’s horrible when it comes to indian development. the actresses should at lease be forced to apply for indian citizenship. The fact that they dont shows that they believe their passports are superior yet they want to eat the fruits that bollywood has to provide. Fuck this. Im done with indian movies.

  • Prem Kumar

    Dobnot go to Bollywood come to Kollywood. Bollywood started hate foreign actress.

  • Prem Kumar

    Amy Jackson is living in Chennai for acting in Kollywood movies. and her next movie is Ai with Vikram.

  • Prem Kumar

    Bollywood are Selfish people.

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