Once upon a time, there was only one name that captured the attention of Hollywood head honchos when the term ‘Indian beauty’ was brandished with flair – Aishwarya Rai.
However, the equation changed in 2008 when a virtually unknown Freida Pinto burst onto the scene, piggybacking on the success of the film, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’; the rest, they say, is history.
Now, nearly five years later, Pinto has succeeded to the ranks of one of the most beautiful women in the world, with men’s lifestyle magazine, GQ, bracketing the 28-year-old as its ‘Hottest Indian Chick’.
News of the dusky actress’ rise in the beauty stakes has surprised many critics in her home country of India.
While in another poll conducted by Askmen.com, racy actress Sherlyn Chopra has been placed on a pedestal in the top 100 most beautiful women list at number 64, with Bipasha Basu close at her heels at 67.
“These names are quite strange choices considering two out of the three actresses are barely household names in India,” said Akaash Kohli, a Dubai-based stylist. “But, the imagery that Hollywood holds of Indian beauty is very different from the perception that Indians define.”
Kohli added: “Hollywood picked these three names, because, frankly, these are the only three they really know.”
Aside from Pinto, Basu is starring opposite Hollywood hottie Josh Hartnett in ‘Singularity’, while Chopra gained notoriety and the shocking title of a ‘Bollywood legend’, when ‘Playboy’ magazine featured her in their nude centrespread.
In a country where increasing sales of fairness creams are backed further by celebrity endorsements, the stereotypical perception is ‘fair is lovely’, without punning on a brand with a similar name.
Dubai-based GMASCO’s Creative Director, Shaun-Dean Thomas sheds the light on ‘fair is better’ imagery in the region, saying: “You have to understand that the endorsement campaign paints a different picture in different regions.
“While in the sub-continent and parts of Asia, it’s the all-white story in skin tone, in this region even-tone is what sells the product. However, celebrity endorsements are always a game changer.”
Thomas explains that in most campaigns though, market research indicates that very dark skin can alienate the buyers, but the American markets are more receptive to duskier skin tones, and find them even more attractive.
Spare a glance at the ‘Worlds Sexiest Asian Woman’ conducted by Asian weekly, Eastern Eye, and the names that pop are quite different.
In 2012, Bollywood superstar Priyanka Chopra has won the coveted crown, according to its on-line survey, defeating reigning champion Kareena Kapoor and three-times winner, Katrina Kaif.
Meanwhile, fashion magazine, FHM India, cast its vote for Katrina, Kareena and Deepika Padukone, respectively, as the top three sexiest women in the world.
Incidentally, that same list sees Pinto at number 59, while Basu at least saves face at the 16th spot; meanwhile, Sherlyn Chopra doesn’t even rate a mention.
The editor of a Dubai-based fashion magazine said on the condition of anonymity: “Most of the time, magazines manipulate the polls to place names that the public demands.
“If your poll question is a multiple choice, with options such as Katrina, Kareena, Deepika, Priyanka and Anushka, you really can’t vote for a Freida, now can you?
“Similarly, Western rags place their magazine sales on names and faces their advertisers will pitch for. Katrina and Kareena are nobodies there; so Freida and Sherlyn get that boost.
“Ultimately, its all a numbers game with no real winners but the magazine itself which gets a peak in sales.”
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