OPINION

Was Vanity Fair To Freida Pinto?

February 20, 2009
Aditi Nadkarni

Let me just start by saying how very pissed I am that Freida Pinto looks like a fifties pin-up model on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine. Let me correct that. A white, fifties pin-up model.

No matter what one thinks of Slumdog Millionaire, we can all agree on one thing: little La Pinto is a darling. She has beautiful kohl-lined brown eyes and a slender figure. And have you seen the legs on that woman? Now when the ample award nominations have inspired movie theaters to start showing the film again, fresh trailers appear with Rahman's upbeat score, the screen lit up with her smile. At the Golden Globes she wore a golden gown. How cute is that? At the Baftas she dazzled even more and the list of best-dressed included her name.

I waited through a string of commercials just because Access Hollywood mentioned Freida Pinto before they cut to the advertisements. They called her "the new star" and even discussed her couture for a total of 7 seconds (yeah, I was counting). Indians might find Freida Pinto a little skinny for their taste. I can already see the South-Indian film industry demanding that she wear a push-up bra before she ever decides to act again. But America seems reluctantly smitten with this debutante. I admit, it makes me happy to see a familiar brown face on the mostly color-blind American television. The only brown I get to feast my eyes on is Fareed Zakaria's and Asif Mandvi's. Anoop Desai was voted off Idol this season and so I am back to taking naps in place of evening television on the respective days.

The last time I saw desis on Access Hollywood was when during an interview with George Clooney, the "Water" team consisting of a saree clad Deepa Mehta walked the red carpet unnoticed a safe distance away from the camera's focus. I was momentarily excited by the sight of a saree on American television. This why Freida Pinto's 7-second appearance on AH made me a happy in an odd sort of way.

So now you can understand why I was miffed when I heard online rumors that Vanity Fair might have whitened La Pinto when putting her on their cover. I took a look at the said picture and whoah! She is as pale as Conan O'Brien. Her magnificent cheekbones have been flattened and the brown in her eyes no longer visible. She is wearing a red, bra-like top and what looks dangerously like a yellow slimming underwear. Her legs still look gorgeous but the glow that was so apparent on her brown face has been replaced by a white-out effect. So lets review what this means for those of us who felt a certain childish pride in watching an Indian person's face flash on American TVs. Her name is not suggestive of her heritage and now that she appears almost white, there is practically no way to tell if Pinto is from India or Sweden. I suddenly realized that the prophecy of this happening was clearly etched out in the name of the magazine itself. With a name like Vanity Fair, what were we expecting, inner beauty with brown skin? That would be such an oxymoron.

Through Access Hollywood, Vanity Fair clarified that the "whitening out" rumors were absolutely untrue and it was just "lighting". Well, in that case other magazines should take swift notes. Apparently, there is a quick tip Vanity Fair has to offer that may save them several touch-ups. You don't need to Photoshop or air-brush pictures to make dark people more appealing in America. You can just take care of it with a little bit of lighting.

Aditi Nadkarni is a cancer researcher, a film reviewer and a poet; her many occupations are an odd yet fun miscellany of creative pursuits. Visit her blog for more of her articles and artistic as well as photographic exploits.
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#1
smallsquirrel
February 20, 2009
01:15 PM

aditi, I had not seen this before. and it is shocking. what in hell was VF trying to do here? I mean, for the love of god!

OK, so apparently their thing is that all the girls are posed like 50's pin-up models. But why does that require turning this desi bombshell into a white one? That, too, one in chaddi?

hmmm, yeah I am with you. I am crying foul here. this is pretty egregious and disappointing.

#2
Aditi N
February 20, 2009
01:32 PM

SS: It is disappointing and yet not uncommon.

When Anoop Desai, an idol contestant first walked onto the set he sang beautifully and everybody liked him coz I mean the guy's good lookin and can carry a tune. Guess what Simon said. "You seem too IT-techie like for Idol". :) What better way to re-affirm stereotypes than express them on the most watched show in America.

That just midly amused me coz at least it is the "Indian guy=software geek" is at least "good stereotype" but this issue with VF-Pinto is just so upsetting.

Here's a link that will give you an idea of Pinto's original skin color:

http://stylebakery.com/celebstyle/images/FreidaPinto.jpg

#3
smallsquirrel
February 20, 2009
01:42 PM

the only thing I can think of is this... the models in the 50's themselves were often whitened almost to unrecognizable states with giant powder puffs. that was the standard of beauty back then. so, it could be that VF is keeping to that. And if you look at the other pin-ups, including the Puerto Rican woman, they have all been whitened severely. I think they just failed to think about the ramifications of doing what they did.

Interestingly, the African American woman in the lot was not lightened, from what I can tell.

All very strange and not well thought out by the editors of the magazine, methinks. and in the end, offensive in its ham-handed approach.

#4
Aditi N
February 20, 2009
01:50 PM

I agree SS

"Interestingly, the African American woman in the lot was not lightened, from what I can tell"

Yup and she ends up looking the sexiest of the lot in my opinion :)

#5
Seema
February 20, 2009
02:25 PM

It's really sad that in this day an age we are still battling age old prejudices that "fairer" is better. Vanity Fair is stuck in the past. While the publicity is wonderful for Freida Pinto, what message is this really sending? You have to be "fair" and have a western sounding name in order to get recognition. I think the real credit for slumdog millionaire should go to the street children in the movie. The most memorable and touching moments are in those scenes. If the movie had just dev patel and frieda pinto..it wouldn't have been a hit..in my opinion.

I miss 'noop dawg' too.

#6
smallsquirrel
February 20, 2009
02:33 PM

seema... while I agree that this particular challenge exists, I do not think that was the intention of Vanity Fair. I think they had a theme, and they stupidly imposed the accoutrement of the theme in a blanket manner without pausing to think of the ramifications. in other words, they acted stupidly. I do not think they, for instance, whitened Frieda because they thought she would be more beautiful if they did. I think they did it because they blindly stuck to their theme and did not think for a second about the fact that this is a rare brown-skinned beauty in a sea of white-washed stars. (not that brown skinned beauty is rare, btw... just seeing it showcased is)

Unfortunately, since skin color is very much an issue in every facet of life, in every country in the world, what they did is wildly insensitive and pretty damned offensive.

#7
temporal
URL
February 20, 2009
02:52 PM

adi:

The only brown I get to feast my eyes on is Fareed Zakaria's and Asif Mandvi's.

sanjay
ali
kan(sp?)

;)

#8
Aditi N
February 20, 2009
02:57 PM

Hey there seemie :) I agree with both SS and you to some extent. I do think that the media suffers from this outdated malady and as Indians we notice it more. It affects our esteem and so I understand where it is you are coming from. But like SS says I also am not sure what VF was thinking (or wasn't). They did stick to a theme but the fact that they did not whiten or even brighten Terry Pheto's image in the same spread leads me to think that they stuck to political correctness instead of fairness or authenticity. If they would've so much as lightened Pheto's image, there would be a huge hue and cry over the matter in media. Not so for Pinto.

#9
smallsquirrel
February 20, 2009
04:14 PM

good point aditi... I think they knew that the line was already drawn in the sand in Terry's case, so they were politically correct about it. so hmmm... makes a case that they were aware of issues with AAs but not other people of color.

wow, that is *amazing* stupidity.

#10
commonsense
February 20, 2009
09:55 PM

frieda pinto is SOOOOOO attractive!!

#11
kerty
February 20, 2009
10:17 PM

Frieda had very little to do with the success of SD. Her role in SD was so miniscule it hardly showcased any talents. I doubt she can carry the whole movie. So the world-wide adulation bestowed on her is like winning a lucky draw. The adulation is aimed at SD, not her. She should enjoy the spot-light while it lasts.

In Holywood, there are many talented and beautiful ladies, but there is always shortage of scripts for showcasing their talents. And if you have an ethnic background, the draught is all the more acute. I do not think Freida can last in Holywood. She lacks the looks to make it, and you can't survive on acting skills alone in Holywood or Bolywood - too many odds are staked against it. Holywood press has a fascination for fresh meat, the new girl on the block. But give it couple of years, and the same people will ask Frieda, who?

#12
Ledzius
February 20, 2009
11:26 PM

The only reason Freida has become a darling of the West is because of her Caucasian features (including small eyes, prominent cheeks, and a strong jawline). If she had South Indian features like big, expressive eyes, there is a fat chance she would be as popular as she is now. And as mentioned, her name too works to her advantage.

She is going to be on the Leno show this week, her second appearance within a few months. The first time, her manner of talking and her mannerisms were completely in sync with someone who had lived in LA their entire life. Even long timers from Europe like Penelope Cruz couldn't come anywhere close to her in this regard.

She is the ultimate coconut. And if she makes it big in Hollywood, that would be a major reason.

#13
Aditi N
February 21, 2009
12:03 AM

Firstly, are you kidding me? Seriously? Caucasian?!! Freida Pinto looks, as we Goans would call it, pukka Manglorean...or maybe Keralite. What Caucasian features are you talking about? There are a million Keralite/ Manglorean girls who look exactly like her: big brown eyes, high cheekbones, impish smile, bony structure and mocha skin.

I might've even agreed a little bit with you if you had said that it was because she was skinny...which is very Hollywood. But the rest of your comment is just the usual yet mysterious anti-West grumble that some of you guys engage in most of the time.

FYI Hollywood is also home to some very educated, creative and intelligent actors and filmmakers such as Meryl Streep, Woody Allen, Tom Hanks, Robin Williams to name a few. And to be fair, if Pinto were such a coconut then Bollywood would've definitely found a place for her by now....they did for SO many others! She wouldn't have to come all the way to Hollywood to make it big.

#14
commonsense
February 21, 2009
12:11 AM

pinto's looks are very "Indian", whatever that means!! but i find her attractive because i find her attractive, and i find no need to over-analyze her looks through some ethnic/western/non-western microscopes.

#15
commonsense
February 21, 2009
12:14 AM

ledzius:

"The only reason Freida has become a darling of the West is because of her Caucasian features"

yes, i am the west and i approve this message

#16
smallsquirrel
February 21, 2009
08:42 AM

ledzius.. you are off your head man. seriously, off your head. comments not based in reality. and no she was not LA at all, she is just a little enthu. and yeah, we DO have have people in the west that look like her... they are called NRIs.

plus, so nice of you to use racial slurs.

you're a hateful guy, hunh?

#17
Slime_id
February 21, 2009
08:48 AM

Pinto Freida had an Indian boyfriend for four years before the relationship got over and Brit Dev Patel is rumored to be dating his co-star now.
if Freida Pinto is identified as "Caucasian", well I must say Indian men who have such girlfriends are living their C---asian dream.

Pinto is a more Goan name. Most of the Pinto's I know work on the busroute that plies either from Mumbai to Ponda or Bangalore to Panaji. Pinto is a Portuguese surname I presume.

There are skin creams for making men fair in 4 weeks, any chance Dev Patel is listed as model on the Pro-active cream list? Wish the Bus plyers also get their "Fair creams" as end of the day the real target segment for Vanity Fair are the commonday people.

#18
commonsense
February 21, 2009
08:56 AM

frieda pinto is right up there with smita patil, anoushka shankar, salma hayek etc. on the index of attractiveness.

#19
commonsense
February 21, 2009
09:03 AM

frieda pinto is right up there with smita patil, anoushka shankar, salma hayek etc. on the index of attractiveness.

#20
Ledzius
February 21, 2009
10:13 AM

It is often said that Goans, Mangaloreans and Coorgis have Portuguese blood in them. Maybe that explains her thin eyes.

I never said she is from LA. I said she came across on the Tonite show like she is from one.

Btw, how does saying she has Caucasian looks imply racial slurs?

#21
smallsquirrel
February 21, 2009
10:29 AM

calling someone a coconut IS a racial slur. it implies that the person is somehow "race traitor" (whatever that may be) and hates their heritage.

and WTF, you think ALL indians have big eyes? and wow, your observation about the Portuguese blood thing is amazing! yeah, who knew there was inter-mixing?! (rolls eyes)

and I know you did not say she was from LA. I merely contradicted you and said she was not acting LA at all, she was excited.

Honestly, do you have anything to add thoughtful to the conversation?

#22
Ledzius
February 21, 2009
10:44 AM

"Honestly, do you have anything to add thoughtful to the conversation?"

Do you?

#23
Ledzius
February 21, 2009
10:53 AM

I actually meant this-
http://www.friedas.com/index.cfm?show=mart_detail&category=3&pageNum=1&id=178

#24
SD
February 21, 2009
12:02 PM

I think Ledzius just says stuff to get strong reactions from other commentators by being provocative. I guess the anonymity of the internet gives one the additional luxury of being crude.

He keeps saying she has small or thin eyes when she very obviously has big eyes. Whats funnier is that even Portuguese people have big beautiful eyes. :) So there goes the Portuguese blood theory.

But an important thing that people don't seem to be addressing is that even if her features weren't "Caucasian" she could still be famous and well-liked in the "West" like so many other women in Hollywood who have different ethnicity, race, facial features etc. Unlike India, here in the US women don't have to be fair and light-eyed to be popular (like Aishwarya and Kareena in India). Maybe because you are Indian Ledzius you immediately think that if someone is well-liked in the West it must be because of how they look. That is how it works in your country so I can understand why you think that would be. Now I see it.

Truth is Pinto is in the news coz a film she was in was nominated for the Oscars. That's it. She's no "darling of the West".

#25
commonsense
February 21, 2009
12:12 PM

pinto is sooooooooo attractive!

#26
Deepti Lamba
URL
February 21, 2009
12:35 PM

I don't find Pinto attractive. Priyanka is waaay hotter!

#27
smallsquirrel
February 21, 2009
12:35 PM

ledz. why yes I do, please scroll up and see where aditi, seema and I debated calmly, thoughtfully and fairly!

SD... I think you have made quite a few good points here.

#28
Deepti Lamba
URL
February 21, 2009
12:45 PM

Pinto will be old news pretty soon if she doesn't snag some serious roles. Frankly apart from that Colgate smile I don't expect much from her.

#29
Deepa Krishnan
URL
February 21, 2009
12:50 PM

Wait. You mean that red thingy isn't ALREADY a push-up bra?

#30
anon
February 21, 2009
12:57 PM

Pinto's face is alright but she's got the body of a schoolkid. Dunno how she qualifies for a bombshell.

"Unlike India, here in the US women don't have to be fair and light-eyed to be popular (like Aishwarya and Kareena in India)."
But they got to be skinny and reed thin. Got it.

#31
anon
February 21, 2009
01:05 PM

"Maybe because you are Indian Ledzius you immediately think that if someone is well-liked in the West it must be because of how they look. That is how it works in your country so I can understand why you think that would be."
Is this comment only on actors/actresses or on all other spheres of life in India? Because if it is Mayawati comes to my mind immediatley.

#32
anon
February 21, 2009
01:23 PM

"That is how it works in your country so I can understand why you think that would be."
Ever heard of a not-so-handsome man Rajnikanth who is a darling of the Indian masses? Or maybe in your dictionary Indian cinema is synonymous with Bollywood..

#33
SD
February 21, 2009
01:53 PM

anon: Isn't Rajnikanth a man?! You couldn't think of ANY women at all who are the darling of the Indian film industry, Bollywood or otherwise without being "pretty"?

Say someone like Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, Bett Midler, Oprah, Queen Latifa, America Ferrera, . etc who became leading ladies only because of their acting skills, charm and not looks? Not skinny, not reed thin, have won plenty awards, accolades and some of them in their fifties are still doing meaty, lead roles in Hollywood and not playing the heroine's mother's roles.

Any examples in South, North, West, East Indian films of such women who did not become famous for their looks at all but for their acting skills, personality or charm?

The best example of a "darling of the west" like Ledzius puts it is Oprah: a black woman, no Caucasian features, average looks, plenty intelligence and not skinny. Get it?

And read Ledzius's comments. Mine were merely sarcastic responses to his open prejudice about Hollywood. If Indians can exhibit such prejudice against "Westerners" then you too will be exposed in the process. Your flaws too will be pointed out. Too many desis have been displaying this petty anti-West sentiment on DC lately on every thread and as an American I won't just let it go without giving some back to let you know how it feels. When Americans do it, its labeled "racist" and when you guys do it its not? It makes you sound insecure.

And the red thingy is not a push-up bra. If it was then her boobs would look much bigger because they would be "pushed up". The push-up bra was a 70s product I think, not a 50s.

#34
commonsense
February 21, 2009
02:19 PM

Deepti:

"I don't find Pinto attractive. Priyanka is waaay hotter!"

Ouch! That HURTS!! OK, it's a matter of taste, and I admit to my "bad" taste...

And talking of push-up bras and boobs: big boobs are so thirty years ago and yuckky! Not a universal law, but all a matter of taste!

Overheard many times at Indian restaurant counters:

"So, which dish is tasty?"

I feel like butting in: "Sir, it all depends on your taste"

#35
SD
February 21, 2009
02:29 PM

"And talking of push-up bras and boobs: big boobs are so thirty years ago and yuckky! Not a universal law, but all a matter of taste!"

The universal law thankfully is quite the opposite commonsense. Big boobs are yuckky?! Wow! Wonder if they should tell this to the growing breast enhancement surgery so they could pack up their instruments.

That's almost like saying long-dicks are yuckky and obsolete.

"I feel like butting in: "Sir, it all depends on your taste"

...yeah and sexual orientation too!

#36
commonsense
February 21, 2009
02:41 PM

SD,

I totally agree with you that I am in a minority when it comes to being revolted by grossly engorged mammaries. Too bad so much money is spent on plastic surgery, inserts etc. etc. Gross to the max (from my subjective, admittedly not the mainstream point of view).As the saying goes, different folks, different strokes. As Swift once wrote: "passion and fashion cannot be governed" (by some universal law, equation or one size fits all)

In other words: Pinto is hot, for me. OK, not for me (sigh!), but as far as I am concerned. There is obviously no science or metric for deciding whether I am right or wrong ! :)

#37
commonsense
February 21, 2009
03:00 PM

SD:

"That's almost like saying long-dicks are yuckky and obsolete."

Huh?? Isn't that TRUE??:) OK, there's no metric or science for this too, but size, as the saying goes, does not necessarily matter...

a bit like some nationalists proclaiming India or the USA is the BEST country in the world!! Umm, err...maybe best for YOU!

"My wife is the best in the world"....umm, err, maybe for me...

#38
SD
February 21, 2009
03:09 PM

cs: Grossly engorged mammaries are not the same as big boobs. Big boobs is Salma Hayek, Terry Pheto, Tyra Banks, Scarlett Johanssen, Madhuri Dixit, Mallika Sherawat, Ayesha Takia to name a few. Keira Knightley has a lovely face but is flat and so are several emaciated stars who lose weight and lose their boobs in the process.

Grossly engorged mams would be something like Rasputia from Norbit :)...which are definitely not attractive unless one has a fetish.

I agree that Pinto is cute. She has a great smile but she is definitely very skinny as is obvious from the VF picture where her bones are jutting out. But like you say, no right or wrong here...just taste.

#39
smallsquirrel
February 21, 2009
04:22 PM

erm, as a woman... long dicks ARE gross. sorry guys. guys want monster tools to impress other dudes. girls do not generally like giant penises. we like moderately proportioned ones attached to men who are attentive and treat us well.

#40
Aditi N
February 21, 2009
04:55 PM

I don't know how we got on to this subject but I will try to help SD out here :) I am a woman and I do not find long dicks gross unless one is wagged at me without occasion. I like attentive and nice guys too but if they have a long dick I would not go "Eww gross". I'd just be like "Oh now that's great...hope he can use it well" :))

As for boobs, I'm happy I haven't met guys who find big boobs yucky!

#41
kerty
February 21, 2009
05:08 PM

The problem with big boobs is that its glamor has a short shelf life. They begin to droop, shag, drop to the navel, and look plain ucky long before rest of the body begins to age.

On the subject of how long 'it' should be, a Guru responded to his Chela by way of a metaphor as to how tall a person should be - a person should be tall enough to reach the ground.

#42
SD
February 21, 2009
05:47 PM

"They begin to droop, shag, drop to the navel, and look plain ucky long before rest of the body begins to age"

hahaha :))

You've either had some very tough luck or terrible imagination kerty.

#43
commonsense
February 21, 2009
10:28 PM

Aditi:

"I don't know how we got on to this subject but I will try to help SD out here :) I am a woman and I do not find long dicks gross unless one is wagged at me without occasion.
As for boobs, I'm happy I haven't met guys who find big boobs yucky!"

My apologies for inadvertently veering this discussion in this direction. it all started though initially by perhaps Deepti's comments about a push-up bra and somebody else who mentioned that she needs more weight in order to be acceptable in India etc. And indeed the whole point of your article is looks, albeit from a different angle

Bottom line for me: I take back my putrid and silly TITillating comments about big boobs being "yuckky". Of course they are not and they are, depending on one's taste, or in my case the lack thereof. No metric, not universal law...that is why it's called personal taste!

Bottom line #2: In my highly subjective opinion, Pinto is a babe, and that has nothing to do with big or tiny boobs in and of themselves.They do matter, but it is hard to pin down as a formula. Nor whether she looks Indian, Caucasian or Martian. These issues can always be over-analyzed, as we have demonstrated here!

Bottom Line #3: Pinto is super-attractive, right up there with Salma Hayek, Smita Patil, Michelle Obama, Anoushka Shankar etc. etc. (you get an idea of my taste, be it good or bad, depending on one's perspective. Hint: Aishwariya Rai is NOT attractive although obviously very pretty, in my register. Note, I am not saying she is NOT attractive period. In my register is the operative phrase!

#44
commonsense
February 21, 2009
10:34 PM

Aditi:

"I don't know how we got on to this subject but I will try to help SD out here :)"

It all started with this booby trap:

Aditi:

"They called her "the new star" and even discussed her couture for a total of 7 seconds (yeah, I was counting). Indians might find Freida Pinto a little skinny for their taste. I can already see the South-Indian film industry demanding that she wear a push-up bra before she ever decides to act again. But America seems reluctantly smitten with this debutante."

not sure if america is smitten, but your truly surely is.

#45
Ledzius
February 21, 2009
11:03 PM

To SD, #33
There have been a lot of successful Indian actresses who became famous for their acting more than their looks - eg. Jayabhaduri, Konkona Sen. In the south, there have been Sarita, Radhika, Shobha, Vadivukkarasi, etc. And Whoopi, Queen Latifa, have appeared in important roles, but not the lead heroine ones as far as I know. Oprah is a talk show host. We also have Barkha Dutt in that case.

Some of the most successful "black" women in lead roles like Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams are mullatoes, and have distinctive Caucasian features. The only exception I can think of is Naomi Campbell.

#46
Ravi Kulkarni
February 21, 2009
11:53 PM

Ahem, who is Freida Pinto and what is Vanity Fair?

Ravi

#47
Deepti Lamba
URL
February 21, 2009
11:56 PM

CS, wasn't me who made the push up bra comment;)

#48
SD
February 22, 2009
12:26 AM

Ledzius: I may be American but I do know a few things about Indian cinema and icons.

Jaya Bahaduri was considered pretty and was a good actor I admit but never achieved iconic status. Whether you consider her pretty or not is not under question here. Conventionally she was not ugly. She was a petite, fair Bengali beauty.

Konkona Sen as far as I know is not "the darling of India" and all she manages to get is chunky roles in non-commercial films where plenty other actors can buttress the film. More importantly, she even landed roles because she is Aparna Sen's daughter not because Indians were taken by her talent and personality. Thats how stuff works in India: starlets own the film industry and nepotism is galore.

I don't even know who all those other women are that you listed so I am guessing they probably aren't the darlings of the rest of India and are regional heroines who do not hold iconic status as far as all of India is concerned.

Both Whoopi and Queen Latifa have appeared as leading ladies in quite a few movies (Corrina, Corrina, Clara's Heart, Sister Act, Bringing Down The House, Last Holiday, Taxi and many more). Oprah has also acted in a couple of films and is not just a talk-show host. She is an American icon which I am pretty sure Barkha Dutt is not. She is a news reporter and a journalist, not even a talk show host. Nice try though.

Regarding your pejorative comments about Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams (both of whom are definitely not considered icons of American cinema), I am not sure if you are talking about mixed race but most people in America do belong to several races. If they are considered beautiful it is not because their features are "Caucasian" but because they are pretty.

The thing is no matter what facts indicate me or anybody else for that matter won't be able to change your mind because you CHOOSE to be prejudiced. You use terms like "Mullatoes"!! Wow!Yikes! Like I said the anonymity of the internet allows plenty crudeness. If you live or work in the US and people heard you use such terms about other people it wouldn't be looked upon well unless you just hang out with other racist people or Indians who condone this sort of language. I had heard about racism within Indian crowds but this is atrocious.

One can rouse a sleeping man but when someone pretends to be asleep, you cannot wake them up. You are just a bitter ignorant person with unfounded views about a film industry that has showcased talent irrespective of race, color or physical appearance while the ways of your film industry have been best documented ironically in a recent Hindi film I saw: Luck By Chance.

Some of you Indians on DC have opened my eyes to the kind of prejudice that exists among Indian people about Westerners. It is surprising.

Ledzius: The argument started with your saying that only women who look Caucasian make it big in Hollywood. This is very obviously not true. There are plenty examples if educate yourself. In fact, in India, Caucasian traits hold more importance. Fair, light-eyed women are pronounced pretty and women wear war paint like make-up in order to play leading ladies. They have to heave their breasts and wiggle their booty and reduce themselves to ogle-material in order to have their films be commercial hits. And most of the time the women who do make it to the top are children of stars.

This is what goes on in your film industry and you have the nerve to talk about what will get Pinto ahead in Hollywood? If Pinto was some Kapoor or Deol thats what would make her big in Bollywood.

#49
Aditi N
February 22, 2009
12:59 AM

Hi Ravi: Read the article. The details of who Pinto is and what Vanity Fair is should become pretty clear. But I'm thinking if you don't know already then you may not be interested in reading the article either :)

CS: When I said I didn't know how we got to the subject I meant the subject of "penis size" :) But I kinda see how comments went that path now. BTW from your list you seem to have pretty good taste so maybe the "not liking big boobs" is just one stray anomaly. On the brighter side, it does look like you and kerty finally have something in common now even if the reasons may be vastly different. :)

#50
Ledzius
February 22, 2009
01:03 AM

SD, Barkha Dutt is not just a news reporter, but hosts a weekly talk show "We the People" that comes on NDTV. But since you say you are in the US, I can understand your ignorance in this matter.

"I don't even know who all those other women are that you listed so I am guessing they probably aren't the darlings of the rest of India and are regional heroines who do not hold iconic status as far as all of India is concerned."

I presume you are N Indian, so I guess Southies don't count in your book. The fact of the matter is, many South Indian movies didn't emphasize the oomph factor as much as Bollywood.

"If they are considered beautiful it is not because their features are "Caucasian" but because they are pretty."

How does this then explain Whoopi Goldberg? You consider her pretty? A Romanian student who was a friend of my ex-roommate in the US saw her on TV for the first time and remarked that she looked like a monkey. Mind you, this came from a white guy, not a desi.

I have also heard a lot of racist stuff from many Serbians in the US. Please be aware of the fact that the US is not the sole representative of white culture although many Americans would like to think it is. Many people of other continents (including many whites) hate Americans for their overbearing cultural self-righteousness.




#51
anon
February 22, 2009
01:24 AM

"I don't even know who all those other women are that you listed so I am guessing they probably aren't the darlings of the rest of India"

Its not possible for regional actors to attain iconic status all over India barring a few because their reach is limited. Doesn't mean these actors don't exist or that they are not appreciated and loved by the masses in their own states.A person who's had only a cursory glance at Bollywood and who has almost no understanding of regional cinema should not make blanket statements for the whole of India and Indians. Reflects more on your ignorance rather than reality.

"Say someone like Whoopi Goldberg, Meryl Streep, Bett Midler, Oprah, Queen Latifa, America Ferrera, . etc"
Are these women ugly in your book? I'd consider them average. Nandita Das is a prominent dark skinned actress but I'd hate to add her to the list because she's a gorgeous woman, a real beauty.

As for talk show hosts there is someone in TN who is extremely popular and greatly admired by the common people here. She hosts a talk show called Ippadikku Rose, and yeah she is a eunuch. Even people in rural TN can identify her. However she wouldn't be considered iconic because she is 'regional'.

#52
Ledzius
February 22, 2009
01:35 AM

anon- I (and many other Indians) like Nandita Das way better than Freida. Although she was also fairly well exposed to US audiences (mainly because of "Fire"), she never became an instant fixation there, simply because she looked "too Indian" (with nice curved eyebrows and rounder eyes and jawline). So pretty in the Indian context doesn't necessarily translate to saleability in the American context. She didn't appear to possess the degree of Caucasian looks that Freida seems to have. And that was her handicap.

#53
SD
February 22, 2009
02:09 AM

Ledzius:

"I presume you are N Indian, so I guess Southies don't count in your book. The fact of the matter is, many South Indian movies didn't emphasize the oomph factor as much as Bollywood"

I am neither actually if you just didn't read my comment. I am American and from LA. I know Indian actors because I see lots of Indian films. An Indian icon I would hope is someone the whole country has at least heard of. Ask any other person on this forum if they think that the other women you listed would be classified as Indian icons or darlings of your nation.

"But since you say you are in the US, I can understand your ignorance in this matter"

Since you are from India I too can understand your ignorance and even the undertones of racism. I'm relieved that the only thing I don't know is a talk-show host.

"How does this then explain Whoopi Goldberg? You consider her pretty?"

How does what explain Whoopi Goldberg? I don't understand the question at all. Hollywood has all kinds of actresses, not just pretty or ones with unconventional looks. Whoopi isn't known for her looks, Halle Berry on the other hand is pretty. So? They both have their own niche. Whats your point? Only pretty or ugly people should be famous? I don't get it.

And let me add that there are plenty black women who are not of mixed race and are still very beautiful. More importantly if a biracial woman is beautiful, so what? She must have the best of both races. It doesn't mean she is prettier because she is Caucasian or has been un-whitened.
Here visit this website and you will find all the beautiful black women/ actresses listed:

http://gorgeousblackwomen.blogspot.com/


"Many people of other continents (including many whites) hate Americans for their overbearing cultural self-righteousness"

So? Does that now mean Indians cannot carry a single thread without introducing hatred of America? So now everything about America is automatically bad and nasty? That is illogical. Criticize by all means when the context is there but your comments are just empty hate, prejudice without any just cause. How can hatred about cultural self-righteousness of Americans influence your comments about a film industry which at a time was plagued by racism but has risen above that and showcased talent irrespective of such differences. It is unfair of you to have made that accusation in the most prejudiced of language and now you are engaging in hopeless debate to justify those illegitimate comments instead of admitting your mistake.

By the way, if more people you know, Serbians, Romanians or otherwise are racist that does not excuse your being racist. It may very well be that since you are racist you just thrive better in a racist group of people. Birds of a feather flock together.

Try to open your mind a little and educate yourself instead of living a life of prejudice, racism and empty hate. You might see the good in the world. The world moves forward and hopefully leaves racism and prejudice behind. Try to move forward instead of justifying your constant anti-West whine by saying that everybody hates America.



#54
SD
February 22, 2009
02:17 AM

"So pretty in the Indian context doesn't necessarily translate to saleability in the American context"

Yeah no, we don't seem to like fair green eyed women with war paint on their face.

And conventionally Nandita Das and Freida Pinto would appear almost indistinguishable to an average American (the ignorant scumbags that we are). Pinto's film was nominated for an Oscar and Nandita Das isn't known in Hollywood. Fire wasn't that well-known here. Whether she has Caucasian features or not is irrelevant. At this point I am seriously starting to wonder about two things: 1. do you know what Caucasian features even mean and 2. am I engaging a racist troll.

#55
kaffir
February 22, 2009
02:27 AM

"Regarding your pejorative comments about Halle Berry and Vanessa Williams (both of whom are definitely not considered icons of American cinema), I am not sure if you are talking about mixed race but most people in America do belong to several races."
-

SD, Obama has called himself a mutt when talking about his identity. Is that pejorative?

Is the use of the word "mulatto" in and of itself, pejorative, or would that depend on the context?

#56
Kerty
February 22, 2009
02:43 AM

Persis Khambatta, Kabir bedi, Parminder Nagra, Tabu, Kal Pen, Om Puri, Amrish Puri, Victor Bennerji, Roshan Sheth etc got lucky break in Holywood but they remained sidelined as one-trick pony as Holywood would not come up with any scripts to use their ethnicity or talent. That is the fate faced by all ethnic actors and actresses in Holywood as good scripts are hard to come. Barring few hotties, the same fate is met by most white actors and actresses as well - actors and actresses are so dime a dozen and the market place is so crowded and competitive and there are only so few scripts to go around. The age of iconic stars with long shelf-life is long gone. Fortunately, there is a vast tv, theater and entertainment industry to keep most of them gainfully occupied.

Bolywood does put a premium on fair skin and dark skinned actresses would face an uphill battle to make it. But its notion of fair skin is not the same thing as pale skin or white skin. Each race have their own skin and facial features. Movies are made for target audiences and hence they cater to ethnic make up of their audience base. Movies made for Indian audiences would naturally cater to Indian notions of beauty that is found among Indians. Holywood caters to markets that are predominantly white-majority. So naturally other ethnicities would have to fit in. It opened up to blacks after decades of struggle. If India were to open up to holywood, things would open up dramatically for the Indian actors too.

#57
SD
February 22, 2009
03:34 AM

Mulatto is considered a pretty racist term in the US. If one said it out loud in LA downtown and were heard they'd very likely get beaten up or confronted. I am surprised that people don't know this. Please look up the origin of the term and you will know why. The term mullato was used in describing biracial offspring of slaves. The word itself is believed to have originated from a species resulting from the breeding of mules with horses and hence the use of this word with respect to slaves. The term denotes the animal status that was given to slaves and their offsprings and hence as per my understanding is considered very offensive.

And context does matter of course. If one were to refer to themselves as anything at all it wouldn't be racist unless they were making a reference to a community as a whole.

"Mutt" is not a racist term since historically it has never been used as pejorative towards any race. Its really that simple.

No matter what the debate is about, decent human beings should not engage in the kind of racist language that Ledzius has on this thread. Americans may not be very popular in the world right now but that does not make racist banter against Americans acceptable. It is truly shocking that the seemingly educated people would do something like that. Even when I pointed out the racist comments he still continued doing it, extending examples of other friends and acquaintances who also were racist and used racist terms as if that would explain or excuse it.

It just makes me wonder about the Indians I know, about how many of them think like Ledzius but just don't show it or express it to my face.

#58
kaffir
February 22, 2009
03:50 AM

"It just makes me wonder about the Indians I know, about how many of them think like Ledzius but just don't show it or express it to my face."
-

SD, true - we like to hide our racist tendencies, we're very cunning like that. Unlike America, where it's all out in the open, like the 2008 movie "21" which morphed the Chinese-American Jeff Ma to a white Ben Campbell, but threw in a side-kick character named Choi (just in case anyone had any doubts about his ethnicity) as a sop. I do admire such "artistic liberties" taken by Hollywood, because, well, there aren't really any talented Chinese-American actors who could be cast in that role, and Jackie Chan wasn't available.

#59
kaffir
February 22, 2009
03:58 AM

SD, Homeland Security should start handing out a pamphlet on "Racism 101 - USA version" along with F-1 and H-1B visas. Whatever knowledge of American society most new arrivals have, it's mostly gleaned from Hollywood movies.

#60
kaffir
February 22, 2009
04:14 AM

"Holywood caters to markets that are predominantly white-majority."
-


Kerty, I wasn't aware that there were whites living in India and other Asian countries. ;)
/tongue-in-cheek

#61
Ledzius
February 22, 2009
04:41 AM

SD, I have to admit that I didn't expect you to be a non-Indian for the amount of stuff you seem to know about Bollywood. That said, I am not being "racist", but only pointing out the racism that exists in Western societies. Yours is a case of shooting the messenger.

For instance, read the article below that clearly implies that whites of N European descent are the most beautiful women in the world, in spite of many Indians winning beauty pageants recently-

http://majorityrights.com/index.php/weblog/comments/the_evolution_of_blond_hair_and_blue_eyes_among_nordics/

#62
smallsquirrel
February 22, 2009
07:27 AM

hahahha ledz, that is a racist site, not some mainstream article.

dude, you are not so swift, are you?

#63
commonsense
February 22, 2009
08:30 AM

Aditi:

"On the brighter side, it does look like you and kerty finally have something in common now even if the reasons may be vastly different. :)"

brighter side, me and kerty in the same basket...eeeks!!!

#64
Ledzius
February 22, 2009
09:18 AM

SS, mainstream websites have no choice but to be politically correct. If you ask a farmer from Iowa, guess which website he is going to agree more with?

Hollywood and Manhattan are not representative of the views of all Americans.


#65
smallsquirrel
February 22, 2009
09:22 AM

ledzius, what you are saying is patently false. you cannot take some hate site and bandy it about as typical american thought and think you can get away with it.

go find us a proper study, or keep your dimwitted fallacies to yourself. but trotting out some racist website as a representative view of mainstream american thought is unacceptable. (although par for the course for you and your totally warped views)

#66
SD
February 22, 2009
12:13 PM

kaffir: Its definitely not out in the open. Please don't just level accusations for the sake of argument. Our nation has made huge strides in this past decade or so in countering racism. Educated, decent Americans who've had a good upbringing and were raised with good values do not use racially tinged terminology and if they do they are immediately called out on it. When one uses a term they should know its origin and meaning. Why does the consulate or homeland security have to provide a booklet? As Indians arriving on F1 and H1 visas into a country don't you think you guys should at the very least learn something about the culture or about what is considered offensive. Why do you use words that you don't know the meaning of? Do you think it makes you cool? If I go to India and use words that people consider offensive as an American I will be criticized as being culturally self-righteous and inconsiderate. So why doesn't the same rule apply to you?

Ledzius: you have trouble admitting to it but believe me in our circles in LA you would be classified as racist if you were to say the stuff you did in your comments. You use plenty racist terms and your whole ideology is prejudiced. You think that Hollywood peddles "Caucasian" features (which is not true, we've moved on from that era) and you then excuse it by providing examples of other racist people you know. It is anti-West bitterness. If racism exists in some parts of America then it should be countered not used as an excuse to fuel more racism.

I just have one last thing to say to the commentators on DC. As an American I love Indian culture, cinema and people. After reading the constant anti-West diatribe on this forum it made me look differently at my Indian friends and even wonder if this is what they think of me but don't say out loud. I even spoke to my best friend who is Indian about this. And she put sense into me by saying that if I thought on these lines I would be doing the same thing you guys are: applying the words and actions of a few people to a whole community or nationality. Today America's image in the world is not that great. I agree. That does not mean that you criticize everything about America. We may deserve some of the anti-West sentiment but don't make it so generic and indiscriminate that it makes you seem prejudiced. Some of the things you guys mention are outdated. The faces in Hollywood are mixed, of all colors and shapes. The arts industries have pioneered the ousting of racism. Times have changed and if you live in the US you will realize that the tide isn't just sweeping the big cities; its in the smaller areas of America too. There will of course be a few racist people everywhere and hopefully time will eliminate those. And with time your critique will have to change too or it will be dismissed as prejudicial bitterness. It really hurts me to see so many Indians constantly and sometimes without reason demonstrate hatred towards the West. Its just not nice. If someone constantly criticized your country for no good reason and started an anti-India propaganda how would you feel?

#67
Kerty
February 22, 2009
01:08 PM

Ledz

Thanks for the link. The article does go to great length and details to compare Indian women to white women. One may wash off the hands by shooting the messenger or by attacking the site as racist, supremacist or hate and that would be the political correctness expected from MSM and people, but if you scratch the people off the record, the views mirrored in the article would not entirely be off the mark. They resonate. They are reflected in the kind of choices people make and freedoms they pursue. The article merely holds mirror to it and dares to highlight something that MSM would not. America have come a long way, no doubt, and majority of people in urban, elite, liberal America would want nothing to do with it, but ask Black America if their struggle is over.

There is a tendency to shoot the messenger, hold accountable a person who is only holding a mirror to the society, label a person to be racist when one is only pointing out racism. To practice racism or not highlight it and leave it alone is not racism, but pointing it out is racism! I have seen such gymnastics in conservative as well as liberal forums.

#68
kaffir
February 22, 2009
01:25 PM

"If I go to India and use words that people consider offensive as an American I will be criticized as being culturally self-righteous and inconsiderate."

***

I doubt it. We are known to bend over backwards to accommodate foreigners, especially if they are white. That's a colonial hangover which will take some time to go away. I could give you a few examples of the changes that have happened in India solely for that reason, but since you are so familiar with India, you must know them. One example is the introduction of non-vegetarian food in the town of Rishikesh (home of many yoga ashrams and a spiritual center) to pamper the tourists, while many locals expressed discomfort over that change. (I'm not debating the merits or demerits of vegetarian/non-vegetarian diet, or the mechanics of change, but that's a good example of a change that was made to accommodate foreign tourists who couldn't go for a few days without eating meat.)

#69
SD
February 22, 2009
01:54 PM

kaffir: here is what I think. I think that when we visit a place or move there we should learn a little about its culture. whether it is done or not is besides the point. the point is it is the right thing to do. you know something? at travel stores here there are books which give us a list of what we shouldn't say to inadvertently offend people when we travel to a foreign country. we can either educate ourselves or not care. its a prerogative that defines us and speaks of the respect we have for other cultures. if Indians have made certain uncomfortable changes to accommodate foreigners then they may have done so to improve tourism and not just as an allowance to foreigners. the fact remains that they shouldn't have to do that, it is like giving up your principles. if it is their religious place then they should protect it and not serve meat. if a foreigner were to use offensive, racially charged words it shouldn't be tolerated. We should all stand up for what is principally right.

I remember a couple of years ago a big group of us went to this sports bar in Michigan and we had in our group a foreign exchange student from Africa. He was excited to be in the US and was loudly expressing his festive mood. He was happy and was singing, The owner of the bar approached our group and very rudely without explanation asked him to leave. We were shocked. The guy was white and we knew we were in a very segregated area of Michigan. The owner simply pointed to the sign that said they reserved the right to deny anyone service. We all got up to leave and before leaving one of us stood in front of the bar and loudly told the other customers what was happening. Everybody soon knew what was happening. The bar was mostly white and we were not sure if anyone would be on our side but they all got up canceled their orders and soon every single person exited leaving every seat empty. A bar that had been bustling and full of people was now empty. Some of us stood outside the bar in the cold telling people what had happened if they tried entering the bar. The African guy kept shrugging it off telling us it was OK and we should just move on but we all decided we would make sure this was addressed. After a while the owner came out and apologized and made up an excuse about how he had felt that the African guy had been too drunk and was acting rambunctious. We later heard that the incident was narrated on the radio the next day. This is the fate racism faces today in America or at least I hope it does. But the real achievement of the night was that a whole bar full of people in the middle of what was considered a segregated area was drained empty when they realized that the owner was being racist. As an American when Ledzius narrates about Serbians and Romanians being racist I want to narrate this incident because it reminds me of the things that make me proud of being an American when everybody else is attacking my country.

So when you know something wrong is being done stand up against it. Don't just condone it because its done elsewhere.

I don't mean to lecture here. :) Its just my own perspective.

#70
kaffir
February 22, 2009
02:39 PM

Shabaash SD!!!

Such a fine lecture on taking pride in one's country and standing up to the wrongs. I'm sure there are a few regulars here who could learn from your example, instead of always looking at the half-empty glass and finding nothing worthwhile in India, or at least not speaking up if they do.

The problem in India is that, for example, when that change in Rishikesh came about (sorry, I wasn't there - I heard about it from a local friend), likely there would've been a good number of Indians who, based on their world-view and lack of pride in their culture, welcomed that change with glee in their hearts because the local population was not receptive to the idea.

As for Homeland Security and pamphlets, it's an idea along the same lines as the government facilitating those immigrants who want to learn English by setting up ESL classes and making it easier for them to learn a new language which will make their life a lot easier. Or we can ask Hollywood to not perpetuate stereotypes which are then exported to viewers across the globe.

#71
commonsense
February 22, 2009
10:10 PM

deepti:

"CS, wasn't me who made the push up bra comment;)"

yup! you simply commented on the the original piece about the push-up bra!

Re: big boobs or lack thereof, (not that this is SO important), i was simply reacting against the male (and female) fetish of bigger is necessarily better! does somebody remember Katy Mirza? Or am i too old? And there was actually an Indian movie called "Lady Football", a very soft version of soft porn playing in the theatres some twenty years ago...Freida Pinto is getting a bad rap for not being "Lady Football". They just showed her at the Oscars, and she looked really great and oh so attractive, despite the fact that the dress she wore clearly displayed the fact that she was no "Lady Football"!

SD (if you are still reading this), the issue you are tangling with is way complicated with wheels within wheels etc. much of it having to do with colonialism. I must say I agree with you that in US, Canada etc. despite the bad rap they get, most regular people do not deserve the taunt of "racism" that is so casually hurled, especially by some Indians who would not even blink twice while doing the same for Americans, "whites" and indeed for fellow indians too, except they will deny that this indeed is "racism".

(Watch me getting attacked for sucking up to a "white" guy, an American etc.!! Or perhaps this could be a self-denying prophecy)

#72
Hardik
February 22, 2009
11:46 PM

Seriously, here in my college everyone's comments after the movie were "Nahh.. she's not hot. " (translate as voluptuous)
And I just kept saying "Well Hello ????? "
Is it just me or does everyone find her so amazingly charming...
Oh and what an outrageous job VF has done..
Just look at how beautiful she'll look when she comes on the next cover of Femina etc.

#73
Ledzius
February 22, 2009
11:58 PM

Many IT companies here in Bangalore provide etiquette training for its employees who have to go abroad on assignments.

I know that in the US, they provide such training for Americans who visit Japan, but I doubt there is any sort of training if the destination is India.

#74
commonsense
February 23, 2009
12:37 AM

Hardik:

"Seriously, here in my college everyone's comments after the movie were "Nahh.. she's not hot. " (translate as voluptuous)
And I just kept saying "Well Hello ????? "
Is it just me or does everyone find her so amazingly charming..."

naah, it's not just you. FP is seriously hotter than hot! super-attractive indeed!

In your face, over-the-top, overblown mammaries are seriously over-rated!

#75
commonsense
February 23, 2009
02:05 AM

Hardik,

it's all the in the face: FP has a perfectly symmetrical face, very well proportioned nose, lips, chin etc. To top it all, a captivating smile!

#76
Slime_id
February 23, 2009
03:19 AM

Freida Pinto denies dating 'Slumdog' co-star

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29336877/

#77
Slime_id
February 23, 2009
03:31 AM

These pics are so beautiful. Million dollar pics. I think Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar is so cute!

http://www.allyourtv.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121:photogalleryslumdogcast&catid=48:photogalleriescelebrity

#78
Aaman
URL
February 25, 2009
12:10 PM

The latest Vogue India cover repeats this - our Freida, white-washed, to put it baldly.

#79
Aditi N
February 25, 2009
12:19 PM

Aaman: is this the picture you are referring to?

http://community.livejournal.com/ohnotheydidnt/32577539.html

If so she doesn't seem white-washed...just air-brushed as is usual but several shades closer to her real skin color compared to VF's glaring tube-light shot.

On Vogue India's cover she looks over-accesorized. I mean what the hell is that hideous thing around her neck? It looks ridiculous.

But at least she looks more like her mocha self. It would've been embarassing if she looked like a Fair & Lovely ad on a desi magazine.

#80
Aaman
URL
February 25, 2009
12:44 PM

It is the same pic, but I think the jpg does not bring out the colors of the print version. Very glamorized pic, though

#81
commonsense
March 12, 2009
09:44 PM

freida pinto, da best!

(smitten CS)

#82
kaffir
March 12, 2009
10:53 PM

meh. too waif-like and emaciated. I like 'em well-rounded and full-figured.

#83
commonsense
March 12, 2009
10:57 PM

kaffir,

i understand. it's all a matter of taste. my bad taste and your good taste :)

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