Our country has an obsession with fair skin and adhering to eurocentric beauty standards. This obsession has made its way into Bollywood and countless songs have been made praising fairness and touting it as the most desirable quality in, especially, a woman. This has reflected in the portrayals on screen. Only once in a blue moon do we get to see an actor who is not conventionally “fair” in a lead role.

This means that actors who are not fair-skinned have their share of struggles in the film industry, simply because of the colour of their skin. These 10 actors have spoken up about how they were typecasted or lost roles because of their skin tone.

1. Priyanka Chopra Jonas
The former Miss World is one of the highest-paid actors in the industry. The actor has done numerous roles in Bollywood and Hollywood. Despite this, Priyanka spoke up about the time she missed a role because of her skin colour. In an interview, she said,

I was out for a movie, and somebody called one of my agents and said, ‘She’s the wrong ‘physicality’…And then my agent broke it down for me. Like, ‘I think, Priy, they meant that they wanted someone who’s not brown.’ It affected me.

2. Nawazuddin Siddiqui
The actor has given us phenomenal performances consistently. In one of his interviews, he recalled his earlier days in the industry as a junior artist.

In those days, I used to work on a daily basis for television shows as a junior artist. Because of my brown complexion, people used to say, ‘We can’t take you … we have to put extra light to make you visible, you are dark and we don’t have time.’

3. Radhika Apte
The actor has worked in Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Telugu, Bengali, and English-language films. While she has not revealed if she has lost roles because of her skin colour, she has revealed how she was typecasted because of her skin tone. She revealed how she was not even auditioned for roles of an urban woman. In an interview, Radhika revealed,

If there was a kaam wali bai role in the urban setup, then I’ll be okay for that because I was dark-skinned and I looked a certain way.

4. Hina Khan
The Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai star is also one of those actors who has lost a role because of their skin colour. In one of her interviews, Hina revealed that she lost the role of a Kashmiri woman. Ironically, the actor has her roots in Kashmir.

I could not crack a project because I didn’t look Kashmiri enough. I am Kashmiri and I can fluently speak the language but I didn’t get cast because my complexion is dusky and I am not extremely fair. That’s what the team and character demanded. I really felt bad.

5. Chitrangada Singh
The actor who was last seen in Bob Biswas once revealed how she had to lose out on modelling assignments because of her skin colour. In an interview, she revealed,

I did lose out on modelling assignments. In fact, when I lost out on one ad in the initial days of my career, I was specifically told the reason as it had come down to selecting between two people for the part.

6. Freida Pinto
The actor has performed in a number of movies and TV shows in Hollywood. When Freida graced the Koffee With Karan couch, she revealed the rejections she faced in India because of her skin tone. She said,

If I talk about Indian television, then commercials, I did get rejected quite a bit. ‘Not fair enough, not Indian looking enough’… those were the kind of rejections. But they were not rejections that broke me. It just made me realise that there’s something else for me and I just have to wait it out.

7. Shilpa Shetty Kundra
Speaking to Humans of Bombay, the actor opened up about the struggles she had to face in the film industry because of her skin tone. She said,

I remember there were producers, who without any reason, threw me out of their films. The universe wasn’t in my favour, but I had to keep trying no matter what.

8. Rajkummar Rao
One of the most talented and versatile actors in the film industry, Rajkummar Rao was rejected for a role because of his skin tone. In an interview, he recalled this incident that took place when he was struggling for a role in the film industry. He said,

I did an audition for a director who was making his debut film. He really liked my test but told me, ‘Acting is fine, but I can’t give you a lead part because leading heroes are supposed to be fair and muscular. But do you want to play a small character in my film?’

9. Sameera Reddy
Sameera Reddy is one of those few celebrities who keep it real and honest on social media. In an interview, she revealed how she was also a victim of the unfair beauty standards of Bollywood. She revealed,

I was told I was too dark, too tall, too broad. I didn’t fit into that girl next door look. I had to constantly try and fit in it and it really exhausted and tired me. I don’t regret it because that was my learning to learn to come to this point of loving myself unconditionally.

10. Nandita Das
The actor and director has spoken up about how her skin colour had directors typecasting her only for certain roles. She has also spoken up about how directors have asked her to lighten her skin colour to fit certain beauty standards. In an interview, Nandita revealed,

When there is a role of a rural woman, or a Dalit woman, or the role of a slum-dweller, then my skin colour is fine. But the minute I have to play an educated, upper-middle-class character, invariably someone comes up to me and says ‘I know you don’t like to lighten your skin, but you know this role is of an upper-middle-class educated person.’

Despite having actors this talented, Bollywood still goes on to cast actors who are culturally incompatible or do a brown face. Time to change this.