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Fifty Shades of Brown: Bollywood's relationship with colorism

We have seen lately in several Bollywood films where a fair-skinned actor is turned into a brown skin person with makeup. Case in point Ranveer Singh in 'Gully Boy', Bhumi Pednekar in 'Bala', and Hrithik Roshan in 'Super 30.' This is a way to either denote that the protagonist is either living in poverty or comes from a lower caste. Lower castes are associated with dark, tanned skin, giving them an inferior status while fair skin denotes privilege and higher caste. Taking in mind the reach and influence of Bollywood films, this doesn't give out a good message to the society where women and men also sometimes, are under pressure of looking fair and white. Just look at any matrimonial ad and you will see the demand for a fair skin bride/groom is sky-high.

This downgrades the message of even good-intentioned films like 'Gully Boy' and more so in 'Bala'. The latter talks about accepting yourself the way you are and has a fair skin actress with literal black face paint. Which makes her less desirable in front of the hero, played by Ayushmann Khurrana. It's high time Bollywood realizes this problematic trend and ends this colorism. Why not cast real brown people for these roles?


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