This morning, I was reading a post
by my sister-in-law, the multi-faceted Nandita A about her unhappiness about how skin color was used as a comedy ruse in the recent blockbuster "Sivaji".
The whole of India (and in fact the world) is quite obsessed with skin color. History is full of colonizers invading countries and attempting to impart their "culture"/"education"/"religion" or "values". And invariably, the invading nation has the fairer skin (with a few exceptions).
The treatment of blacks/native Americans in the US in the past, Hitler's obsession with white skins/blue eyes are other examples of this obsession.
Black skin is assumed to denote an inferior person ... For example, our Hindu caste system although supposedly based on occupation (warrior, trader etc) is really based on color - Kshatriya, Brahmin etc are all "varnas" - which means "color" in sanskrit. Essentially, our dumb caste system was based on skin color.
And I guess subconsciously, the desire to get married to fair people/get fair daughter's in law etc is really a subsconscious attempt to elevate one's social status. The fairer the family, the higher the social standing. Skin color as a proxy for achievement :-)
Even amongst the Nadars, I guess there is discrimination against the darker skinned people from the deep-South districts (Nagercoil, Tirunelveli etc) and the first generation rich from the deep south attempt to whitewash their modest past by acquiring the fairest daughters in law.
It's sad but true. And of course, movies are only a mirror on society - So, there is no point blaming Sivaji, the movie - It is us all that allows the perpetuation of the color based disrimination and humor. And in any case, there is no kind of humor that is uniformly kind to every type of person.