Rang saaf nahi hai

Issue 33 - weekend newsletter

Rang saaf nahi hai…

A civilised way of saying that you are not good looking. Normally the debate of color is reserved for women in Indian society. And let's be honest the moment we see a good looking kid, our reactions are very different. I can tell you from my experience.

But the above line is used on a middle-aged inspector Jatil Yadav. The scene is from Netflix’s latest thriller Raat Akeli Hai. The mother is desperate to get his son married so she is doing a hunt for a good looking match. The irony is that the girl rejects our hero Jatil aka Nawazuddin Siddiqui on the basis of looks.

The scene has two layers - one it shows how people judge others on looks and the most important aspect a woman is rejecting a man based on looks. Quite rare considering the background and social status of the story that is being played.

Obviously the feedback isn’t taken well by our hero. Men and our bloated egos. How can we take rejection and that too from a girl? Thank god he didn’t hurl rape threats. So we see him making remarks on her behaviour and the clothes she is wearing. What follows after is an interesting conversation between a mother who is far more matured and open-minded compared to his son.

The movie is written by Smita Singh and directed by Honey Trehan. On the face, the movie is a murder mystery but every scene opens up a second layer highlighting different problems that our society holds.

Brilliant it is.

Fair and Lovely

Sorry, it is Glow and Lovely. I don’t understand the fascination with the word lovely.

Coming back to the movie, apart from the killer there is one more silent hero in the movie - the fairness tube that our hero keeps using whenever he is about to meet Radhika Apte. Yes, she is back on Netflix India. The platform desperately needs her blessings to compete against the shows Amazon Prime has been releasing off late.

The fairness tube that sits just back of the mirror is the tube of confidence. Not just for Jatil Yadav but hundreds of men who are not fair or good looking. Including yours truly.

The fairness tube was with me when I was a teenager. Obviously I realised quite early that I am quite behind in looks as I was in scoring marks. The tube gave a layer of momentary confidence. Those days life was more offline. Online was still a puzzle. Instagram filters were yet to become the new fairness tube.

My bubble broke very soon that the tube had no magic powers. It was just making money from a society that is still living in the cloud of looks. Not just making money but Unilever Srilanka suppressed the voices who wouldn’t promote skin whitening products.

After 2 years Kinita Shenoy shares her story. “I was a woman on my own. I had to pay my rent and medical bills with my salary. I had no safety net. Unilever knew what they were doing by threatening me, and that stuff stayed with me and was the reason I shut up for two years afterward,” Shenoy said. “Even now I am speaking up but I am afraid. I am afraid of what will happen — what they will do.”

The business and culture of fairness are skin deep. It isn’t going anywhere, it has just evolved.

With the world now spending more time online in locked houses, the filters and beauty apps are the new fairness tube. Both men and women are applying. The goal is to look good. The goal is to be talked about. Almost all of us are living in the stamp of approval.

I have done it and serves no purpose. Maybe momentary but in the long run, those likes and views serve no purpose. They won’t pay your bills, they won’t come and talk to you when you are fucked and they definitely won’t be around to support you.

And with masks on, the looks are gone out of the picture.

By the way, our hero in the final scene drops the fairness cream in the dustbin. Just before he proposes to his lady love.

He is who he is.

My learnings from online fundraising

After the fairness gyaan, a quick recap of my articles I wrote this week.

With Independence Day nearing, animal welfare organisations vouch for Vocal for local pets. The call is a good one but why not ingrain it completely.

Along with the ongoing pandemic, we are also witnessing a series of parallel incidents to test mankind. The recent Beirut explosion is one such example and Preemptive Love is a nonprofit that is working with a bold vision of ending the war. I write about the nonprofit, thoughts from the founder, and fundraising.

Finally, I wrote something about how nonprofits shouldn’t adopt technology. Sometimes I think how mean I am but then someone has to decode the BS.

Besides I have never been in the business of impressing people.

Some more thoughts

I don’t know about you but I have a lot of time to kill or think. I have been thinking about this for a while:

“Peace is the only thing matters.”

Earlier it was about convincing, forcing, and making things happen. The Internet brands you as the go-getter and the achiever mindset.

Today I only do things that give me peace. Earlier it was what do I get in return from doing an activity or talking or meeting someone.

These days my first question is do I get peace by performing the particular activity. If the answer is no, I simply avoid it. Which could be a bit harsh and letting the momentary happiness pass.

But peace is the ultimate.

Not sure about you. But whatever you do make sure it is you. The filters and fairness confidence don’t go a long way.

Peace be with you.