Kalyan Jewellers 'racist' ad depicts an aristocratic Aishwarya Rai and a black child holding a parasol over her head

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan 'racist' ad – Kalyan Jewellers withdraws ad, Ash responds

Archana Venkatraman

A Kalyan Jewellers print ad featuring its brand ambassador Aishwarya Rai Bachchan posing like a queen with a dark-skinned, puny child with bare upper body holding a parasol over Aishwarya Rai has been withdrawn amid criticism that it is 'racist'.

Aishwarya Rai 'racist' ad by Kalyan Jewellers in Hindu newspaper depicts a dark-skinned emaciated child as a slave of an aristocratic woman

Kalyan Jewellers print ad depicting a heavily photoshopped Aishwarya Rai and the child was criticized as 'racist' and one that promotes child slavery. The withdrawal comes after a group of activists wrote an open letter to Aishwarya Rai Bachchan suggesting that the full page print ad is a "regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product."

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Kalyan Jewellers 'racist' ad withdrawn

The print ad appeared on respectable Indian national newspaper The Hindu (Delhi edition) on Friday, April 17, 2015 and shows Aishwarya Rai Bachchan representing classic aristocracy and the little emaciated boy depicting poverty and slavery.

Aishwarya Rai racist ad - Ash worked with Kalyan Jewellers brand team

The activists – including Enakshi Ganguly & Bharti Ali, Co-Directors, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, Harsh Mander, Centre for Equity Studies, Madhu Mehra, Executive Director, Partners for Law in Development, and Shantha Sinha, former Chairperson, National Commission for Protection of Child Rights – urged the actress ambassador to disassociate herself from the advertisement.

The controversial ad was criticized heavily on social media sites too by influential Indians and human rights groups' professionals.

In response, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan issued a letter through her spokesperson suggesting that the jewellery brand has started retracting the advertisement. Ms Rai Bachchan further clarified that she was not involved in the final layout of the ad. She also attached the original shot of herself taken for the ad which does not depict the child or the backdrop. The final layout is "entirely the prerogative of the creative team for a brand," she said through her spokesperson. She added that she will work with the creative team to withdraw the ad following the 'racist' perception of the advert.

The activists further said in the open letter that the ad represented a "17th and 18th century colonial European portraits of white aristocracy, depicting women being waited upon by their 'black servants'" and called on Ms Rai Bachchan to dissociate herself from "this offensive image".

The setback to Kalyan Jewellers comes just days after the jewellery brand opened its latest showroom in Chennai in a star-studded event involving Ms Rai Bachchan, her father-in-law Amitabh Bachchan and South Indian cinema's lead actors Manju Warrier, Nagarjuna and Prabhu.


Follow Archana Venkatraman on Google+

Follow IndiaNewsBulletin on Google+

Comments powered by Disqus