A Kalyan Jewelers advertisement featuring former beauty queen and actress, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has been accused of being insensitive to racism and child labour. The advertisement, which was published in The Hindu’s Delhi edition last week has received criticism from activists all over the country including writer and feminist activist Farah Naqvi and the former chairperson of National Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Shantha Sinha.
The two women, along with other prominent women of the country have written an open letter to the actress requesting her to dissociate herself from the campaign and help discontinue its publication. The open letter, which was published in The Scroll, objected to the ad on two major grounds.
First, for using the image of a young boy holding a heavy umbrella over Rai-Bachchan’s head, while she sits posing in her beautiful royal dress and jewelry, and second for visibly showing the servant-boy with dark complexion, while Bachchan looks fair and radiant; adding that instead of celebrating racism and child labour, we should be fighting it. This idea, as the concerned letter suggests, goes back to the seventeenth-eighteenth century Europe, where having slaves was a matter of pride and the ad, in this way, creates a longing and nostalgia for that period.
The letter concluded with a direct request to the actress: “As an influential member of the Indian film industry and a popular star with a large fan following, we trust that you wish to use your image in a manner that promotes progressive thought and action, and would not knowingly promote regressive images that are racist and go against child rights.
We, therefore, urge you to do the right thing – cease to associate yourself with this offensive image by ensuring that further use of this advertisement is stopped.”
Since the publication of this letter, Kalyan Jewelers have issued an apology and have decided to retract this image from their ad campaign and Bachchan too, has distanced herself from it saying that the picture was edited without her knowledge.
ORIGINAL SOURCE: The Scroll
[Featured Picture Courtesy: Indian Express]