Bollywood celebs who have faced racial discrimination
While strict laws are in place today to prevent racist attacks, Indians living or traveling abroad do at times end up becoming unsuspecting victims to nasty jibes from their western counterparts.
Even the high and mighty of Bollywood too have not been spared the rod. In an exclusive interview with hitlist, Priyanka Chopra spoke about her ordeal as a school student in the US.
Even as an actress, initial Hollywood offers mostly sought to project her as the stereotypical exotic Indian princess riding on an elephant, roles that she outright rejected. Read Priyanka Chopra's full interview. From racially profiling and detention at airports to poking fun at ethnic antecedents, we take a look at the Bollywood celebs who have seen it all...
Shah Rukh Khan
Shah Rukh Khan
A name that can launch a thousand products in India has ironically landed the superstar in trouble. He has faced gruelling detentions at US airports on quite a few occasions. SRK was first detained in August 2009 for over two hours at Newark airport where was to attend India’s Independent Day parade. In an interview, he had said, "They kept telling me that my name is common to some name that has popped up on the computer, so they need to follow procedure. It took them an hour and a half or two hours; they kept on asking me questions, if I could give them any numbers in America that they can contact and vouch for me and who I am. I was really taken aback because there were people who knew me there." He was detained again in 2012 when he was travelling to New York with Nita Ambani to deliver a guest lecture at Yale University. Khan later joked about the episode saying, "Whenever I start feeling too arrogant about myself, I always take a trip to America. The immigration guys kick the star out of stardom." SRK's airport nightmare - The full story.
John Abraham and Bipasha Basu
The former lovers, along with their 'De Dhana Dhan Goal' co-star Arshad Warsi, faced racial abuse and ridicule while shooting in London for the film. The troika was shooting near a traffic signal when a car stopped and two white men sitting inside started rapping a song that poked fun at Indians. The actors were stunned at the racist outburst. John was quoted as saying, "When you come to London and are shooting, it’s the last thing you expect."
Her stint in the UK reality show Big Brother drew international attention and widespread ire when her fellow contestant Jade Goody made racist comments against her. Jibes were also taken at her accent and derogatory remarks made about India when she presented her chicken curry to her fellow inmates. It snowballed into an international issue prompting the then UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to condemn the episode. A deluge of sympathy and support poured in for Shilpa from all quarters and the actress ended winning the reality show.
Neil Nitin Mukesh
When the young actor flew down to the US to shoot for New York with Katrina Kaif, he was detained at the airport as the overtly suspicious officials felt he looked ‘too fair’ to be an Indian. The actor finally had to ask the officials to ‘Google’ his name to confirm his real identity as an Indian actor. Despite realising their mistake, the personnel didn’t allow Neil to leave immediately and quizzed him about his profession, the kind of films he does and the purpose behind his visit.
The veteran actor, who has played memorable parts in many a Hollywood movie, faced racism during his early days in the West. He had said, "I did feel it when I came here for the first time in 1984, but now I don’t. One used to get worried going into the Tube station because of the skinheads around. They had a very terrifying look on their faces."
Despite being a US national, the actor has faced racial discrimination at US airports because of his surname. "Whenever I travel to the US, the authorities there detain me for extra security screening because of my Khan surname. They even make me remove my trousers for their security checks," Imran had once revealed in an interview. Although the actor gets irked with such frisking, he has now taken such checks in his stride. "It is irritating, but what can one do. I can’t sit and make them understand or tell them ‘Listen, Google my name and find out.’ I know why it happens; just because of my surname Khan," he had said.