Responding by name to the authors of an open letter branding her latest advertisement for Kalyan Jewellers as "insidiously racist," Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's publicist has inadvertently stirred up a hornet's nest.
In an attempt to distance her client from the ad that activists have found to be "offensive," Aishwarya's publicist writes: "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."
Finding her response far too mild for their liking (no one is even commenting on the grammar), activists are now asking if Aishwarya can do nothing more than forward their article for "consideration" to the custodians of the jewellery brand she represents. Is she that "powerless" ask activists, as they add that the response of her spokesperson "seems not only disingenuous, but quite disrespectful to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan."
For those who've missed the furore (and therefore the background to this story), the lovely Aishwarya is seen lounging on a sofa, bedecked with gold and jewels, in a recent print ad for Kalyan Jewellers. In the background, a child is seen holding up an umbrella for her. In an open letter to Aishwarya condemning this portrayal, activists write: "In the advertisement you appear to be representing aristocracy from a bygone era – bejewelled, poised and relaxing, while an obviously underage slave-child, very dark and emaciated, struggles to hold an oversize umbrella over your head... We wish to convey our dismay at the concept of this advertisement, and that you have, perhaps unthinkingly, associated with such a regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product."
Activists urging her to "do the right thing" may not have resulted in the anticipated response, but the public outcry over the ad has ensured that the folks at Kalyan Jewellers have withdrawn this particular visual from their campaign.
Of course we'd have liked a bolder public response from the brand's beautiful ambassador, but we see no point in flogging a dead horse. The younger Mrs. Bachchan couldn't possibly have seen this coming and she isn't regressive as a person, so maybe we should cut her some slack. All said and done, this is not a lapse she is likely to repeat!
Image Courtesy: www.hindustantimes.com