Greek philosopher Plato’s proverb “Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder” is quoted in Akshay Singh’s film Pinky Beauty Parlour (2016) to address the Indian obsession with fair skin.

The movie is about two sisters, the dark-complexioned Bulbul (Khushboo Gupta) and the light-skinned Pinky (Sulagna Panigrahi). The siblings run a beauty parlour in Varanasi. Their business is wrecked when a court case is filed against their claim of turning dark-complexioned women into angelic white beauties. A murder takes place in the beauty parlour, and the investigation turns the film into a suspenseful story of loyalty and deceit.

Pinky Beauty Parlour has been screened at the Mumbai Film Festival. “The challenge now for us is to take it to the public,” Akshay Singh told

How did the story of ‘Pinky Beauty Parlour’ come about?
The idea came from a friend who used to use fairness products to lighten her dark skin. She felt the pressure from relatives, parents and from society in general to lighten her dark skin. It was taking a toll on her. This prejudice is so deep-rooted in our country that it ruins many lives. As a filmmaker, I wanted to address this issue.

During my research, I discovered a news story on two sisters, one fair and one dark, and how it had affected their relationship. I incorporated that into my script. During this time I was in Varanasi, where I found that there were several beauty parlours offering treatments to turn dark girls into fair ones. So I decided to set my story in the city. I added the element of suspense after reading about two sisters who committed suicide because of their dark skin.

‘Pinky Beauty Parlour’.

Was casting a challenge?
Khushboo Gupta plays the character of Bulbul, the sister with the dark complexion. I knew her from before when she was cast opposite me in the film Chitkabrey (2011). She has also faced similar problems in the film industry, where dark-skinned girls are not preferred for lead roles. She was convinced about the role and then the rest of the cast fell in place.

How did your career as an actor begin?
I worked in television 13 years ago, when I was in a serial called Kashmeer. I always wanted to write and direct. I wrote the film Baat Bann Gayi in 2013.

You also play an important character in ‘Pinky Beauty Parlour’. Is it easy to switch between acting and directing?
Yes, it was easy for me to act and handle direction because I had written the script. Also, I find acting easier because an actor’s job is done when he arrives on the sets where everything is served to him on a platter – the script, the dialogue, the costumes. I find direction more challenging, where I have to involve myself in every aspect of the film, from scripting to shooting to instructing my actors.

Was it difficult to finance the film?
My wife and I put all our savings into making Pinky Beauty Parlour. There is no price tag for passion, so we jumped headlong into it. Most actors and technicians came on board for token amounts and worked almost for free. We did take some loans to complete the film.

Did you think about crowd-funding?
Actually, we will be setting up a crowd-funding page on in November to raise Rs 40 lakh to distribute the film in India. I hope I will be able to release the film in the summer of 2017.

Akshay Singh.