PETALING JAYA, August 21 – Malaysian actress Mira Filzah has apologized to a Twitter user who accused her of appropriating Indian culture in a contact lens photo shoot.
The 27-year-old actress recently posted on Instagram photos of herself wearing a full set of embroidered lehenga, a form of traditional clothing for Indian women, and an elaborate nath or nose ring.
She also shared a video of herself in lip sync with the song Maar Dala from the Hindi movie Devdas.
Photos began circling yesterday on Twitter, where a user known as Eshwarya sarcastically referred to Mira as a “cultural appropriation queen” and accused her of taking advantage of Indian culture.
The tweet has received over 6,000 retweets and 4,100 likes so far.
Mira then apologized directly to Eshwarya on Twitter and clarified that she suggested traditional Indian clothing for the photoshoot because she was a die-hard fan of the Bollywood industry.
She was also inspired by the striking gaze of actress Aishwarya Rai in the movie Umrao Jaan and wanted to emulate her for the photoshoot.
“Hi honey. I’m sorry if what I did was wrong. I grew up with Bollywood movies and songs and have always been a Bollywood fan since I was little.
“When I was offered this photo shoot, Aishwarya Rai’s eyes came to mind. I loved seeing her green / blue eyes in Umrao Jaan, so I suggested the Bollywood theme to the brand owner.
“Again, I have no intention of profiting from Indian culture itself. I’m just a die-hard Bollywood fan and I’m sorry if you think what I did was wrong.
“I really respect and love your culture,” Mira wrote.
Eshwarya then thanked her for her sincere apologies and said she was sorry if her initial tweet made Mira the target of hateful comments.
She also suggested that the Sangkar actress use her platform to spotlight models, designers and makeup artists of Indian descent if she was truly passionate about promoting their culture.
Despite the amicable reconciliation, Eshwarya became the target of cyberbullying and was forced to shut down her direct messages on Twitter yesterday after receiving a deluge of hate from strangers.
She also shared screenshots of people calling her racist slurs and nicknames while accusing her of trying to stir up unrest among Malaysians.
To purify the air, Eshwarya made it clear that she has no problem with people of other races wearing Indian clothes, but is simply against those who use Indian culture as a tool for profit.
“It’s only bad when you use it for profit or just to follow a trend. When you really respect it or want to wear it to a friend’s wedding or cultural event, that’s perfectly okay, ”Eshwarya said.
Other Twitter users also agreed that it was disappointing to see artists using Indian fashion as an aesthetic accessory without acknowledging the systemic racism faced by minorities in Malaysia.