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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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6 Kommentare


I watched this movie as well and yes I agree with you, Aqsa, that it would have been much better if it had been a real brown faced actor instead. However, the good part of the movie was that in the end, Ayushman Khurrana goes on to accept his baldness and says something like "apne aap ko kyum badly?". This was the part that I liked in this movie. I also liked the portrayal of the woman with brown complexion as an empowered and bold person who, as you also pointed out, did not care much about the people.

Really enjoyed reading your blog Aqsa.

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Antwort an

Thank you so much Ali for sharing what stood out most to you! Yes, there were some good messages as well, but since we have learned to see problematic representations, so I preferred writing on it.

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Thank you so much for this Aqsa because this is such a big issue even with Pakistani models. Representation isn't representation if it's done in a very convenient manner. And it is also unfortunate that the movie was marketed with a certain agenda yet had no truth behind it.

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Antwort an

Yes Taneer, it has become a culture in Indian and Pakistani media. Such representation creates more problems instead of doing any good.

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This is actually very sad. I have not watched the movie, but will do

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Antwort an

yes, you should watch it! You will see a lot of themes that we have learned in our class.

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