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Wednesday, October 5, 2022


Phirang Babes in Bollywood!


Monojit Lahiri wonders wassup with this white-skin complex with the B-town blokes?
MONOJIT LAHIRI | Issue Dated: March 23, 2014, New Delhi
Tags : Phirang Babes | Bodyguard | Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 | Katrina Kaif | Hazel Keech | Kristina Akheeva | Ranbir |

“Some people just never learn, fixated, obsessed & zonked as they are with their white skin addiction! Boss, the Brits – despite our 67 years of swatantra Bharat – also colonized our minds. Even today, when a phirang enters our room, don’t we stand to attention, become that extra teeny-weeny conscious and subservient? We do, and let’s not run away from it! For the phirang babes, doesn’t the drool factor operate overtime? No matter how liberated and modern you call yourself, white skin for us not so whites remains alluringly hot!” This was a friend holding forth at a party, when the conversation veered to the influx of Western female actors rocking Bollywood.

The guy wasn’t too off-centre. Right from the gorgeous Brit brunette Sophie Dahl in the dud King of Bollywood [2004] to the more recent Hazel Keech [Bodyguard] & Kristina Akheeva [Yamla Pagla Deewana 2], none of them seemed to have made the slightest impression on audiences or BO returns, so why do the B-town blokes persist with them? Film Scholar Rauf Ahmed believes it is a mixture of the Kat-and-Fair n’ Lovely combo effect gripping tinsel town & audiences! “Katrina Kaif could well be a huge inspiration as an outsider coming in and slowly conquering B-town, wholesale – movies, endorsements, shows, Ranbir – the works!” The other thing, Ahmed adds, is these females are very hardworking, obedient, conscientious, dedicated and totally ‘nakhra-free’ regarding discipline or inhibition, so that’s a big plus.
“Also, they don’t cost as much as a Bollywood star. Finally, as your friend mentioned, the white & female factor does exist in the Indian psyche & audience perception of this breed has little to do with hard-core histrionics and much more to do with baring their talents!” Chandigarh-based collegiate Tanu agrees. “I don’t know about the professionalism part but the white skin complex is very much there! ‘Gori chitti’ is any day hotter than others; and actresses can do what they like with her dusky, sexy complexion and can scream as much as they want from rooftops endorsing dark skins, but look at where they are in B-town and where Kat Kaif is! Men drool and women are envious of the phirang phenomenon. It’s as simple as that!”

There’s another side to it too. Beyond the young, hot white and female obsessed audience, it has also to do with the B-town of today. It’s a much cooler, inclusive & accommodating space than earlier times [rigid & straightlaced] with film makers keen and open to experiment with diverse talent. The phirang babes, for their turn, are buying into the world’s largest producer of feature films, perceiving it as a glorious opportunity and ready to chuck their hats [& much more!] into the ring & try their luck with whatever comes their way.
These are young, adventurous and free spirited women – many of half Indian origin – either glamour struck or ready to go the distance in fun, fearless fashion powered by hard-core nakhra-free professionalism. They are not necessarily crazy about making a huge name or scripting their personas in golden letters across the boulevards of Bollywood… they’re just girls who wanna have fun! So for every Evelyn Sharma [YJHD] attempting a baby step in the industry, there will be tons of Elena Kazan eminently consumed and forgotten in films like John Day & Prague.

The reason is simple: B-town uses this phirang creature as a carrot, a red-hot commodity and hopes her appearance – mostly in item numbers or guest appearances – can add that extra-sizzle and oooomph to tempt audiences make a beeline in salivating mode. If the records are anything to go by, the desi audiences may be impressed but don’t seem to be losing too much sleep… but Katrina Kaif? Aaah, that’s another story…!!


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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017