Accused of appropriating Indian culture, Malaysian actress Mira Filzah apologises for wearing traditional clothes
BY TAN MEI ZI MALAY MAIL Fri August 21, 2020
Mira said she was inspired by Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai and wanted to emulate her character from the film ‘Umrao Jaan’ for the photoshoot. — Pictures courtesy of Instagram/mfmirafilzah
PETALING JAYA, Aug 21 — Malaysian actress Mira Filzah has apologised to a Twitter user who accused her of appropriating Indian culture in a contact lens photoshoot.
The 27-year-old actress recently posted Instagram photos of herself clothed in 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 lip-syncing to the song Maar Dala from the Hindi film Devdas.
The photos began making the rounds yesterday on Twitter where one user known as Eshwarya sarcastically labelled Mira the “cultural appropriation queen” and accused her of profiting off Indian culture.
The tweet has gotten over 6,000 retweets and 4,100 likes so far.
Mira then apologised directly to Eshwarya on Twitter and clarified that she had 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 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.
Eshwarya later thanked her for the sincere apology and said she was sorry if her initial tweet caused Mira to become the target of hate comments.
She also suggested that the Sangkar actress use her platform to spotlight models, designers, and make-up artists of Indian heritage if she was truly passionate about promoting their culture.
Despite the amicable reconciliation, Eshwarya has become the target of cyberbullying and was forced to close her Twitter direct messages yesterday after receiving a barrage of hate from strangers.
She also shared screenshots of people calling her racial slurs and nicknames while accusing her of trying to stir up unrest amongst Malaysians.
To clear the air, Eshwarya clarified that she has no problem with people of other races wearing Indian clothing but that 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.
Other Twitter users also agreed that it was disappointing to see artistes using Indian fashion as an aesthetic prop without acknowledging the systemic racism faced by minorities in Malaysia.