A 25-year-old actress in West Bengal, India, has lodged a complaint with the Kolkata Police alleging that she has been receiving a barrage of online hate comments regarding her “dusky skin tone”
Shruti Das, who debuted in 2019 in Bengali soap “Trinayani“, said she had been shamed for her skin tone for the last two years but it reached a point where she could not take it anymore as the attacks were becoming more and more personal.
The popular Bengali television actress alleged that she has been called ‘Blackboard’ and ‘Kalindi’.
“When we worship Kali and Krishna [Indian deities] who both are dark complexioned but we cannot accept a heroine who is not of fair skin. I was surprised to find that one girl from Katwa posted some comments on the verified facebook page of the channel I am working for. This has been happening for the last two years and I felt that there should be a protest to this. So, I lodged a complaint with the Kolkata police and I believe that action will be initiated,” Das said.
“The trolls accused me of manipulating my partner, who is a director, to get this role. They claim it would otherwise have been impossible for a dusky person like me to get such a chance,”
Das said initially, everyone around asked her to ignore the trolls, and so she did. But it only got more vicious with time.
“I am in a steady relationship with the director of my first TV serial ‘Trinayani’, and the hate brigade, after getting to know that, has been making distasteful remarks, questioning my character and my talent. I thought if I take it lying down any further, it would only give them more reasons to continue with this hatred,” said the actress, who now plays the lead in ‘Desher Maati’
“Since childhood, I have been facing such abusive comments because of my dusky colour. I always wanted to be an actress and worked really hard to achieve this place. But people still abuse me because of my skintone. They also feel I have made some compromises to bag a role or forced someone to cast me,” Shruti added.
The actress, who tagged the Kolkata Police on Facebook to draw attention to the nasty comments targeted at her, was told to email the details to its cyber cell.
A senior police officer said the matter was being looked into.
“The cyber cell of the Kolkata Police has received an email from actor Shruti Das regarding the online abuse that she had been facing because of her dusky skin tone. The actor, in her complaint, has said she had been receiving such hatred since 2019. She has also attached screenshots of the social media comments,” the officer said.
Ms Das said many in the industry, too, had made her skin tone a topic of discussion, with some from the production units having said that she wouldn’t have got her second gig, if she wasn’t given the right kind of makeup and presentation in the first soap.
She pointed out that she wasn’t the first actor to have faced the brunt for her skin colour.
“Some of my seniors, who are now household names, have gone through similar predicaments for their complexion,” Ms Das claimed.
Film and TV actor Parno Mitra said it is a matter of shame that people get targeted for their skin tone in a country like India, where most of the people are brown.
“With the advertising world, media and film industries having glorified light skin colour for so long, it is but natural that this prejudice against skin colour still exists. Often, we are told to put on makeup in a way that would make our skin tone a few shades lighter. I usually avoid too much makeup,” Parno Mitra said.
Director Swarnendu Samaddar, who is in a relationship with Ms Das, said he has often tried to shut down the trolls on social media, but that has barely helped.
“Looks alone cannot ensure success in the industry. Talent matters more than anything else. Not just Shruti, there are several others who have made a name for themselves by sheer dint of talent. Trolls keep making offensive remarks with no regard for an individual’s sentiments. Strong action should be initiated against them,” he said.