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On Brownface and Beauty Standards

Aqsa Manzoor

Although Bollywood is not the right place for messages of body positivity, I still expect the industry to retain some level of political correctness with the growing cancel culture. However, the giant industry continues to disappoint and in this blog I’ll be expressing my opinions about the movie “Bala” directed by Amar Kaushik and starring Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam and Bhumi Pednekar.

The synopsis of the movie gave me hope when it mentioned the protagonist having to deal with premature balding issues and his fight with societal beauty standards. It seemed like a movie that would have a detailed discussion about imperfect beauty standards in India and how one should accept themselves regardless of what society believes. However, the movie took a completely different turn. The main character went through an entire journey only to invest in a toupee and marry a conventionally beautiful woman.

My biggest issue with the movie was not even this problematic portrayal of the protagonist and his female lead. Instead, the movie had a strong female lead with a dark complexion. She was depicted as an infallible lawyer who had no care for what society demands and was confident in her looks. I would now like you to imagine the disappointment I felt when I saw an interview and realized that the actor was actually blindingly white ( as most Bollywood actresses are). I was extremely disappointed to realize that this was another instance of Bollywood using brown face instead of hiring actual dark-skinned actors. Brownface is a common problem found in Bollywood and it continues to take away opportunities from deserving people.

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