Raj Thackeray, a feared political leader in Mumbai, has started a hate campaign against British and foreign actresses appearing in Bollywood films. In response, directors explain why they need to hire white women. Oh, and both sides suck.
Thackeray heads up the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), a nationalist street gang and political party that is not exactly loved in Mumbai. Actually, the Sydney Morning Herald says he "inspires terror" and the influence of the MNS is so powerful that actors and actresses are afraid of speaking out against their blatant racism. The MNS has been working to blacklist the 1000 British and other foreign actors who regularly appear in Indian films. It would seem they have the ability to do so. Producers and directors fear Thackeray will ruin their films, and shut down production, if they do not comply with his request.
The campaign began in earnest last week, when MNS officials raided the set of Crooked and demanded to see the work permits of all foreign actors and actresses working on the movie. Thackeray explained the raid to the press as a matter of saving jobs for the local population:
Why can't our Indian actors dance with locals? We will insist that only local junior artists should be employed. We will check whether they have valid permits. Many times, foreigners come here on tourist visas, but take up work in Bollywood.
Jag Mundra, a leading director, was willing to speak out against the MNS and their nationalist campaign. Unfortunately, what he said made his side sound no better than Thackeray's.
"The reason producers pick white girls is because a lot of them have better figures and are willing to expose them," he said. "If you need a bikini shot, not many Indian girls are willing to turn up in a string bikini. But most white girls will not have an issue with that. Titillation has been an important part of Bollywood."
White women are at once both better looking than the local women, and they're easier to exploit, which clearly makes them perfect for the "vulgar and cheap" dance scenes. That has got to be the absolute worst argument against a hate campaign we've ever heard.
Hate Campaign Targets Foreign Stars In Bollywood [Sydney Morning Herald]