Aishwarya Rai has just appeared as a model for a print ad of Kalyan Jewelers which was cited as outrageously racist by a number of online activists.
The print ad is a full page advertisement which was featured in The Hindu(Delhi Edition) on April 17th. Take a look at the image:
The printed visual represents a 17th century European painting of noblewoman with her child servant and it is extremely objectionable, according to a group of activists.
In an open letter to the former Miss World, renowned people including Farah Naqvi, Writer and Feminist Activist, Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam India, Enakshi Ganguly & Bharti Ali, Co-Directors of Centre for Child Rights, and Madhu Mehra, Shantha Sinha, Harsh Mander and Mridula Bajaj have pointed out all that is wrong with the ad.
The letter states that the ad features “an obviously underage slave-child, very dark and emaciated, struggles to hold an oversize umbrella over her head.” The ad is not just racist; it also depicts a 17th century aristocratic, colonial mentality, and the letter has gone to painstaking details to mark the origin of the concept that was depicted in the ad. The people in the letter have attempted to dissuade both the jewellery brand and the globally acclaimed actress from putting up this ad, or publicizing it any further.
Fast to respond, the spokesperson for Mrs. Bachchan issued this official statement:
On the onset, we would like to thank you on drawing our attention to the observation of the perception of the advertisement. Here is an attachment of the shot taken by somebody during the shoot. The final layout of the ad is entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand. However shall forward your article as a viewpoint that can be taken into consideration by the creative team of professional working on the brand visual communication. Thank you once again….
-Archana Sadanand, Imagesmiths, Publicist to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan
On the other hand, the response by the Jewelry brand, Kalyan was as follows:
The creative was intended to present the royalty, timeless beauty and elegance. However, if we have inadvertently hurt the sentiments of any individual or organization, we deeply regret the same. We have started the process of withdrawing this creative from our campaign. – Spokesperson, Kalyan Jewellers