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Bollywood actress' racist statement brings condemnation
24th July, 2006

A Bollywood actress has come under harsh criticism for making a racist statement while interviewing for her latest film Golmaal.

The film is number 8 in the UK charts and some groups are considering whether to call for a boycott in British cinemas.

The actress, Rimi Sen, said in an interview last week: "I play a sweet and beautiful girl in the film. The best thing that I like about the film is that though it has four heroes, I am the only heroine. Rohit Shetty is amazing as a director. He can make even a black African look pretty."

The comments were published by the Indian Bollywood website and later by an automated news feed on Yahoo News.

The British African group Ligali has openly condemned her statement and said the fact that the majority of readers saw Sen's comments as acceptable exposed "how normalised anti-African ideology is within Bollywood and its audiences".

The organisation told AIM magazine it was unfortunate that "it would be unlikely that her racist comments will hinder her career or that of the journalist and media organisation that published this anti-African statement".

Jaspreet Pandohar, Bollywood film critic for BBC Movies Online told AIM that Sen's comments were "shameful but not entirely surprising".

"It not only reflects her ignorance of other cultures and belief that black people can’t be naturally beautiful, but also illustrates India and Bollywood’s long-running obsession with fair skin."

She added: "The sad thing is Rimi probably doesn’t even realise her comments can be construed as offensive. It would be practically unheard of a British actor making these kinds of racist comments in the open and to the media."

There have been other recent debacles.

Ms Pandohar says journalists were caught surprised at a recent London press conference for the Bollywood blockbuster Kkrish.

At the event, well known actor Hrithik Roshan made a passing comment about how he knew it was time to leave Shanghai and Hong Kong after six weeks of stunt training and go home when his eyes started "turning into little slits like the Chinese".

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