Actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s team has responded to an open letter from a group of activists charging her with appearing in an allegedly racist advertisement. The advertisement for Kalyan Jewellers appeared in a newspaper on April 17 and shows Aishwarya reclining under a parasol held over her head by what the letter describes as ‘a dark-skinned slave-boy.’ The 41-year-old actress is a brand ambassador for Kalyan Jewellers.
In a statement on behalf of the actress, her publicist suggested that Aishwarya was not involved in the final image that appeared in the newspaper. The statement, accompanied by the photo below, was addressed to the authors of the open letter and read: “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.”
The open letter, published on Scroll , is written by a collective of activists for women’s and children’s rights including feminist writer Farah Naqvi, Enakshi Ganguly, Harsh Mander and Shantha Sinha, a former chairperson of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.
The letter describes the image in the advertisement as ‘insidiously racist’ and accuses Aishwarya of associating herself with a ”regressive portrayal of a child to sell a product.” It also acknowledges that she may have done so “unthinkingly.”
The advertisement has received some attention on Twitter, none of it complimentary.