Culture & Lifestyle / Showbiz / Shantanu & Nikhil’s Pellet Injury Makeup Creates Outrage

Shantanu & Nikhil’s Pellet Injury Makeup Creates Outrage

Culture & Lifestyle Showbiz Dec 11, 2016

The Indian design duo’s recent fashion show sparked outrage when they decided to mimic ammunition effects as part of their runway’s makeup. 

The Kashmir valley is still reeling from the events following the killing of militant leader Burhan Wani in July of this year. Clashes between the public, police and Indian soldiers saw the authorities deploying pellet rifles to control outraged and unruly crowds. Although the weapons were termed “less than lethal,” many were blinded, injured and scarred for life by the pellets.

The effects of "less than lethal" pellet guns on a 14 year old Kashmiri boy
The effects of “less than lethal” pellet guns on a 14-year-old Kashmiri boy. Photo Credit: Physicians for Human Rights

Clearly, nothing about these occurrences or the scars they left behind says “high fashion.” But apparently, some didn’t get the memo. Models that walked in designers Shantanu & Nikhil’s recent fashion show at Van Heusen GQ Fashion Nights in Mumbai sported makeup with a “bullet pellet effect,” as they showcased the duo’s new Kashmiriyat collection.

A model shows off Shantanu & Nikhil's Kashmiriyat collection. Photo Credit: Shantanu & Nikhil Official Facebook Page
A model shows off Shantanu & Nikhil’s Kashmiriyat collection.
Photo Credit: Shantanu & Nikhil Official Facebook Page

Needless to say, turning the plight of hundreds into some sort of punchline did not go over well. The move was called highly insensitive and an act of immense arrogance and “majority privilege” by many in the press and on social media.

Tweet 1

Tweet 2

The original tweet that set off the twitterati came from the GQ India account, revealing a backstage look at artist Sonic Sarwate creating the macabre makeup look. The post was discreetly deleted soon after backlash began pouring in, but not before former Jammu & Kashmir ­­­­Chief Minister Omar Abdullah took notice and offence.

Source: Twitter


Along with calling the idea both thoughtless and inexplicable he also questioned if the commercial exploitation of the tragedy was going to benefit the victims of the pellet rifles in any way.

Source: Twitter
Source: Twitter

While the collection’s title, Kashmiriyat, translates into “Kashmiri culture,” others pointed out that being caught in crossfire, injured and scarred is certainly not a part of the culture.

Tweet 4Tweet 5

Aside from the tweet being taken down by GQ India, neither the designers nor anyone from the magazine have acknowledged or admitted to the rather poor makeup choices made during the fashion show. The duo did however reveal that the collection represented “poetic aggression and hope” and told the BBC that there had been no depiction or indications of pellets in their designs. They also said they were “deeply concerned about misguided statements that wrongly perceive our intentions behind this collection.”

We didn’t quite hear an apology there.

Should the designers take responsibility and apologize for hurt sentiments or are they allowed their artistic expression despite its alleged insensitivity? Weigh in with your thoughts in the comments below.

Main image photo credit: Shantanu & Nikhil Official Facebook Page

Dilshad Burman

Dilshad Burman


Dilshad Burman is an award winning TV host and Canadian media personality.   Born in Mumbai, India, she was surrounded by its creative energy and grew up with a passion for music, film and television. While completing her Bachelor of Arts in English literature from The University of Mumbai, she i...


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