After being accused of appropriating Indian culture in a contact lens photoshoot by a Twitter user, Malaysian actress Mira Filzah has apologised. Mira, 27 uploaded photos of herself on Instagram where she is seen wearing anelaborate and embroidered lehenga (traditional clothing for Indian women) and a nath (nose ring).
The actress also posted a video of herself lip-syncing to the song Maar Dala from the Hindi film Devdas. When the photos circulated on Twitter yesterday, a user known as Eshwarya sarcastically called Mira the ‘culture appropriation queen’ and accused Mira of profiting off Indian culture. As of writing, the tweet has been retweeted 6,000 times and has 4,100 likes so far.
The actress apologised to Eshwarya on Twitter and explained that the reason why she wanted to dress in traditional Indian clothing for the photo shoot was that she is a die-hard fan of Bollywood industry. Inspired by the striking gaze of actress Aishwarya Rai in the movie Umrao Jaan, Mira wanted to look like the Bollywood star for the photoshoot.
“Hi dear. I am sorry if what I did was wrong. I’ve grown up with Bollywood movies and songs and I’ve always been a fan of Bollywood since I was small”.
“When I got offered this photoshoot, Aishwarya Rai’s eyes came across my mind. I loved to see her green/blue eyes in Umrao Jaan, so I suggested the Bollywood theme to the brand owner”.
“Again, there’s no intention at all to gain any profit by my own from the Indian culture itself. I’m just a die-hard fan of Bollywood and I am sorry if you think what I did was wrong”.
“I really respect and love your culture,” Mira wrote.
In response, Eshwarya thanked Mira for her sincere apology and she apologised if her earlier tweet caused Mira to be a victim of hate comments. Eshwarya also recommended to the actress to use her platform to highlight models, designers and makeup artists of Indian heritage if Mira was truly passionate about promoting their culture.
Even though things have settled between them, Eshwarya was cyberbullied and was forced to close her Twitter direct messages yesterday after receiving a barrage of hate from strangers. Eshwarya shared screenshots of strangers calling her racial slurs and nicknames including accusing her of trying to cause unrest among Malaysians.
To rectify the situation, she said that she had no issue with people of other races wearing Indian clothing but she was merely against those who utilise Indian culture as a tool for profit.
“It’s only wrong when you use it for profit, or just to hop on a trend. When you genuinely respect it or you want to wear it to a friend’s wedding or a cultural event, that’s perfectly okay,” said Eshwarya. Some Twitter users also agreed that it was disheartening to see celebrities using Indian fashion as an aesthetic prop without acknowledging the systemic racism faced by minorities in Malaysia. /TISG