The movie buff inside us is so happy that Bollywood is no longer solely focusing on the ‘boy meets girl’ trope in films. Instead, it is showcasing fresh and hitherto uncommon themes like same-sex relationships, space missions, and male pattern baldness.
However, the industry still has a long way to go when it comes to eliminating discrimination on the basis of skin tone. There are songs that glorify ‘gori (fair) skin’ and dusky actors are under-represented.
Recently, the trailer of Ayushmann Khurrana starrer ‘Bala’ was released showcasing the trials and tribulations of a man grappling with a receding hairline. While the snippet brought to the fore a topic that needs discourse in a light-hearted manner, it also invited anger over Bhumi Pednekar’s brownface.
Main hun Mr. Bald ki dost, Ms. Bold!
Miliye mujhse, jald hi.😉#Bala trailer out at 12 noon!#DineshVijan @amarkaushik @ayushmannk @yamigautam @saurabhshukla_s @jaavedjaaferi #SeemaPahwa @nowitsabhi @SachinJigarLive @sonymusicindia @JioCinema @jiostudios pic.twitter.com/TBSCA3caAt
— bhumi pednekar (@bhumipednekar) October 10, 2019
The trailer shows the actress’ complexion visibly darkened with the help of makeup. People were not impressed by this detail and raised the pertinent question – Why not cast a dusky actor for this role?
Desi Twitter opined that this sends across the wrong message in a country that already has a lot of stigma around dark complexion.
Dear bsdk Bollywood,
Why did you have to paint bhumi’s face brown, Is there lack of brown girls in India!? Or dark skinned Women / artists who can do a better job,Wait afterall this is just Bollywood ! 😓
What can you expect😍 #Bala
— Wellu (@Wellutwt) October 11, 2019
Tbh, I don't even care about the acting. Maybe this person is a great actor. But like, dude why did y'all put makeup to make a fairly light skinned person into a dark skinned person. Should've just sat there and casted a dark skinned person 🤦🤦🤦
— Bunny ⁷ 🐰 (@_TypicalRobot_) October 11, 2019
So bollywood is trying to make a statement about India's obsession with fair skin by casting a fair skin woman to play a darker one?
Also! My God that makeup is bad! No dark person looks like that! They are beautiful
— Ekta Chauhan (@ekta2993) October 10, 2019
— Karnika (@KarnikaKohli) October 10, 2019
When will Bollywood grow up and own up to it's mistakes? Isnt it better to cast a dusky-skinned talented girl who'll suit the role instead of finding a lighter skin toned girl and dump darker make up on her?
— Ruth ரூத் (@Ruthstweets) October 11, 2019
How do you not realise how problematic this is?
— Niki Seth / #resist (@NikiSeth2) October 11, 2019
Y'all are either constantly endorsing fairness creams or putting on tons of dark makeup to make some dumb point there's no in between. When will yall learn that there are real living dark skinned girls who're pretty af and mich better suited for roles like this
— Anj⁷𖧵⟭⟬ 💜💜💜🏳️🌈 (@moonchildbichen) October 11, 2019
brown facing is disrespectful to dark skinned people. is it that hard to find an actual dark skinned actress for this role?? the hypocrisy jumped out.
— kin (@jiindorii) October 11, 2019
It's 2019 & people still don't understand that brownface/blackface is highly offensive.
I'm pretty sure there are a lot of talented actresses with a naturally darker skin tone in India.. instead of using make up to darken this actress's complexion. #Bala
— Yuvna (@YUVNA_H) October 11, 2019
— atif ghulam rabbani (@atifrabbani84) October 10, 2019
Horribly messed makeup..🙄🙄🙄
— Savitaa M (@justchill86) October 11, 2019
To counteract colourism in India, Nandita Das released a music video named “India’s got Colour” that urges everyone to rise above such bias and celebrate the different shades of desi skin.