It's talent over fair skin for TV show producers, who prefer dusky beauties like Hina Khan, Kratika Sengar and Mitali Nag. In a welcome trend, these actresses have broken the fairness-is-the-only-beauty-mantra myth by not just becoming popular but also fetching high TRPs for their respective shows.
Hina-starrer Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai recently completed 1,000 episodes, while Kratika's Punar Vivah is notching high TRPs.
"For us, when we cast any actress, it is more important for us to see that she fits the character and is a good actor. Complexion doesn't really matter at that moment. It is 'mind' over beauty now," said Suzana Ghai, fiction head, Star Plus.
Other dusky actresses who are ruling the TRP charts are Gulki Joshi in Phir Subah Hogi, Mitali in Afsar Bitiya, Sakshi Tanwar in Bade Acche Lagte Hai, Niaa Sharma in Ek Hazaaron Mein Meri Behna Hai and Deepika Singh in Diya Aur Bati Hum.
"Today if people see Sandhya (Deepika), Akshara (Hina) and Maanvi (Niaa), they see them as characters they play and their complexion doesn't really matter," Ghai said.
This new change is surely encouraging, said Mitali, who faced rejection in real life due to her darker complexion.
"It is good to see that the perception is gradually changing, though it hasn't changed completely. It is encouraging for girls who used to get sidelined due to their complexion. I, too, was rejected so many times," said Mitali.
"I feel things happen when they are supposed to happen. I feel that the role of Krishna was tailor-made for me," she added.
The choice of actors largely depends upon the requirements of a script, according to Wasim Sabir, who is helming "Phir Subah Hogi".
"We should really not differentiate between fairer complexion or dusky complexion because Indian skin colour is naturally dark. However, the reason behind roping in dusky actresses depends upon the requirement of the script," Sabir said.
"If you have to show a village girl, then you have to cast someone who can bring that authenticity to the character. When we get on to cast, it is very important for us that people should connect with actors," he added.
Writer Purnendu Shekhar agreed: "Our lead actress in Balika Vadhu, Pratyusha Banerjee, is dusky, but she fits the character completely and has built a strong connect with the viewers."
"More than fair skin it is the features that matter. We had introduced dusky Rajshree Thakur in Saat Phere. When I first saw her, I was quite surprised because I had never seen such a dark complexion before, but her features were remarkable and she looked really nice on screen'," he added.
Another dusky actress, Vindhya Tiwari, has recently replaced Ragini Nandwani as the lead in Zee TV's Mrs Kaushik Ki Paanch Bahuein.
(Priyanka Sharma can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)