Bollywood Bond girl furious over Elle magazine cover 'skin-whitening' scandal - Fans of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan were left stunned last week after the actress's skin appeared to have been digitally lightened on the cover of a new issue of Elle magazine.
Now the 37-year-old Bollywood star, who is widely believed to be the world's most beautiful woman, is said to be considering suing the Indian version of the title over what has been deemed 'racist airbrushing'.
The actress herself has not commented on the situation, but friends of the Bride and Prejudice star have said she is 'furious'.
Beyond the pale? Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on Elle's cover
'Aishwarya's first reaction was disbelief,' said one.
'She believed that these things don't happen anymore. Not in this day and age when women are recognised for their merit, and not for the colour of their skin.
'She is currently verifying this skin-whitening allegation. If there is any proof of this, she might even take action.'
Another adder: 'She is clearly the global face of the contemporary Indian woman. The last thing she'd want is to have a global image coloured by a racial suggestion.'
Neither Elle magazine or Mrs Bachan were available for comment today. The actress, a former Miss World who is married to fellow actor Abhishek Bachchan, is thought to be too preoccupied by her father, who is ill, to look into the matter further.
True beauty: The actress pictured in a more natural light
Fans of Mrs Bachchan were the first to notice that her skin was several shades lighter than usual, and were quick to view concerns on social networking sites such as Twitter.
One wrote: ‘It’s annoying because it seems like lighter skin is always in fashion as if darker skin is something to be frowned upon.’
This is not the first time Elle magazine has come under fire over such airbrushing, and this latest storm echoes one sparked by a cover of the U.S. edition earlier this year.
In September, black actress Gabourey Sidibe appeared on the cover of the title with a noticeably paler complexion.
Bollywood star: Aishwarya Rai shares an intimate moment with her husband, Abhishek for this year's film, Raavan
On that occasion Elle claimed it had not altered the Precious star’s skin any more than that of the other models photographed alongside her.
Editor-in-chief Robbie Myers dismissed the suggestion of racism, explaining: 'At a photo shoot, in a studio, that is a fashion shoot, that's glamorous, the lighting is different. The photography is different than a red carpet shot from a paparazzi.'
Skin lightening is a controversial issue in India and those with a lighter complexion are often perceived to be more successful and wealthy.
Skin-lightening products aimed at young men and women now form a multi-million-pound industry. ( dailymail.co.uk )