On May 29, 2020, the Indian actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas posted a lengthy Instagram caption for Black Lives Matter with the picture titled "I Can't Breathe." Since then, she has been repeatedly accused of 'selective outrage' by followers and other members of the Indian movie industry.
Their anger is not because she chose to support #BLM – who could argue with that? – but that she has said nothing about matters even closer to home that a prominent celebrity might be expected to.
Abhay Deol, another Bollywood actor, posted an image on his Instagram with the words, "Migrant lives matter, poor lives matter, minority lives matter." His caption reads, "Maybe it's time for these now? Now that 'woke' Indian celebrities and the middle class stand in solidarity with fighting systemic racism in America, perhaps they'd see how it manifests in their own backyard?"
Chopra Jonas has endorsed fairness creams – skin lighteners – in the past and people were quick to point that out on comments and call her a hypocrite. A user commented: "Have you forgotten your advert of the Garnier skin whitening cream????"
Responding to her husband Nick Jonas' joint message regarding Black Lives Matter, another Twitter user said: "Was pri's 'heart heavy' before or after she promoted skin lightening creams? Was it 'heavy' when she watched Muslims get lynched in her own country & said nothing?"
Kangana Ranaut, another prominent Indian actor and director, spoke to the BBC highlighting the selective solidarity of Indian celebrities.
Referring to an incident when two Indian monks were lynched by a mob, she said: "There was not a word from anyone… When you politicise your compassion, your activism, your humanity, of course you are part of the problem. Because people who inflict pain on others too have a set of people they are kind to. The problem is selective compassion."
Following Chopra Jonas' Instagram post, memed images soon started circulating over the internet from her movie Fashion, in particular a scene where her character wakes up next to a black man after a night of partying and she pulls a face of shock. While it might be argued that she is disgusted with herself for sleeping with a stranger, the camera then returns to a shot of the man's body, facing away from the camera, emphasising his skin colour.
There has been an ongoing debate ever since then about how the Indian film industry actively participates in racism.
For more information on how you can support Black Lives Matter, please visit its official website or donate here. Readers can also donate to the UK anti-discrimination group Stand Up To Racism, and the Unite Families & Friends Campaign, which supports those affected by deaths in police, prison and psychiatric custody.
Digital Spy now has a newsletter – sign up to get it sent straight to your inbox.
Looking for more TV recommendations and discussion? Head over to our Facebook Group to see new picks every day, and chat with other readers about what they're watching right now.
You Might Also Like