Imagine the response if a dark-skinned Indian woman who had acted in porn films had gone to the Bigg Boss [ Images ] house instead of an Indo-Canadian porn actress, says Faisal Kidwai.
Recently, there was a debate on an international newspaper's Web site about whether Indians are racist.
I won't discuss the finer points of the debate here simply because the topic itself is flawed. Just like every country in the world, there are some Indians who are racist and some who aren't.
To debate, or to claim one country is more racist than the other, is an exercise in futility.
Having said that, there is no denying that a good number of us are in love with white skin.
A perfect example is Sunny Leone [ Images ], a contender on the television reality show, Bigg Boss. She is fair-skinned, Indo-Canadian, good-looking and a porn star.
Initially, her housemates weren't aware of her professional background, except that she had worked in some 'movies' in America.
But when she told them, and the viewers, about her work, not only were the housemates very accepting of her, even viewers didn't protest at the 'immorality' of seeing a porn star in our living rooms.
Now, there are two ways to look at the accepting nature of the housemates and the viewers.
The optimist might say we have finally matured and the personal life of a person, especially a woman, is not an issue anymore.
I would say the optimist has got it wrong. What a person does either in the bedroom or in front of the camera remains a big thing for us, especially if that person is a woman.
The reason why the housemates are not bitching, something they apparently do every waking hour, about Leone's personal life and why she receives fan mails from viewers is her fair skin, nothing else.
Imagine the response if a dark-skinned Indian woman who had acted in porn films had gone to the Bigg Boss house instead of an Indo-Canadian porn actress.
Would we have seen the housemates treat her in the same way they treated Leone?
Would she have got fan mail from males showering her with love?
Would she have got millions of hits like Leone's Web site is apparently receiving now?
When Laxmi, a transvestite, was a guest in the Bigg Boss house, some housemates claimed they felt uncomfortable with her presence.
So, a transvestite makes them uncomfortable, but a porn star is okay?
Bollywood film director Mahesh Bhatt [ Images ] went inside the Bigg Boss house to sign Leone as his lead heroine for his next film.
I don't know Bhatt personally, so I will refrain from passing judgement on him, but I doubt if he would have signed somebody as a lead actress if she were an Indian porn star.
Our love of white skin is much deeper than Leone's film history. We spend thousands of rupees every year on 'fairness' creams, parents shamelessly advertise for a 'fair-skinned' girl in matrimonial columns and we use the word 'black' in derogatory way.
It's easy to blame the media, advertisers and movies, but the shortcomings lie within us. We prefer a fair-skinned marriage partner, we would rather watch a blonde bimbo on screen than a dusky actress who can actually act, and seek out girlfriends based on their skin colour.
Whether we will ever get over our obsession with fair skin is an open question, but, thanks to Leone, we are finally seeing a porn star on our television screens.
Hopefully, this will help remove the stigma attached to the porn industry.