Get Inspired, Be Empowered › Forums › Sexism & Patriarchy › Why do the Indian film industries use the offensive practice of brownface?
Semantee ChattopadhyayParticipant@semantee03July 14, 2021 at 11:14 pm #33116
It won’t be wrong to say that you need to be fair-skinned to be in Bollywood. Even if you play a dark-skinned role, you need to have a fair complexion to stand out. For decades Bollywood has underrepresented Indian skin tones that are an everyday reality in the country. Fair skin has always been considered on top in most of India, be it due to its caste history or its colonial past. In 2019, dark-skinned roles took centre stage but they were played by light-skinned actors with darkened skin. They were mostly small towns, rural, poor characters. Critics pointed out that if dark skin was crucial to the role, actors with the right skin tone could have played the part. They also underlined that associating low income with dark skin is baseless. Dark-skinned actors have regularly mentioned how tricky it is for them to rise in the industry. Bollywood is looking to promote body positivity but so far it’s sailing under false colours.
In the year 2020, Unilever dropped fair from its fair and lovely to be inclusive of all skin tones. This progressive step was taken after the ‘Black Lives Matter movement. For example, in the movie Super 30, Hritik’s skin was made extra dark to make him look authentic in the role of Anand Kumar. In real life, Anand Kumar’s skin is nowhere as dark as it was portrayed on screen. Alia Bhatt playing a migrant labourer from Bihar in Udta Punjab or Bhumi Pednekar in Bala, the brown facing of brown-skinned actors has become a new trope that Bollywood can’t get over with. While all this is done for fair representation, we have all grown up listening to songs like, ‘Gore gore mukhde pe Kala Kala Chasma’, ‘Gori hai kalayian’, ‘Goriya churana Mera jiya’, even ‘Chittiyan Kalaiyan’ in 2015. There are numerous songs made on fair-skinned females. Bollywood is just propagating the already existing mindset of our country. This needs to be addressed and discontinued.Yash TiwariParticipant@yashJuly 15, 2021 at 11:45 am #33121
Brownface is a practice that emerged when some filmmakers wondered why they couldn’t just light their white actresses to play certain Indian characters (usually roles that required pivotal dancing skills). The practice was lampooned in the popular Hollywood short film, “A Chorus of Disapproval.” When Bollywood actors paint themselves brown for roles that are supposed to be South Asian, or when they black up their faces to play Africans, they perpetuate troubling stereotypes. This essay analyzes the reasons why brownface is so common in Bollywood, discussing the way it reflects Indian society’s attitudes toward race and color. It also considers how India might change in the future — that relationships between people of different colors might be more positive, and that such changes could lead to fewer instances of brownface in Indian cinema.
The dark skin tone is associated with lower socio-economic class and thus it is somehow seen as uncouth or barbaric. While there are exceptions in the film industries of other countries, brown-face is a widely accepted practice in India. Therefore, it’s amazing that we Indians have been proponents of the very same western standards that promote white skin over dark on our own people. The practice of fair skin is considered the most desirable trait to have is prevalent in India. It is very common to find skin-lightening products for sale in India. Many products are marketed on the basis that they will magically provide lighter skin, something which is desperately sought after.
The ubiquity of brown faces in Bollywood might be new, but the practice is consistent with a long historical trend wherein white actors black up when playing roles historically occupied by Indians. (The term “brownface” is used to describe indigenous people of color.) This is purely a cosmetic effort that requires white actors to look like non-white actors without requiring society to change its view of what non-white looks like. Indians have a fetish for fair skin. The kind of code words used to describe actresses like “suntanned”, “dark-skinned”, “dusky” and so on underline this preoccupation with fairness. The use of brownface, and yellowface, in Hindi films have been a contentious issue for decades. Despite the Indian cinema industry’s expressed admiration for fair skin, Bollywood continues to insist on casting actors with dark skin in less important roles or as antagonists.
No industry in India has been a great proponent of using brownface than Bollywood. You’ll find actors from not just the South but even North India donning make-up to act as south Indians. And that isn’t just for acting, it is often a reality in real life too. The other part of this is watching films where only affluent south Indian women are shown as being beautiful. This overrides the fact that beauty is diverse and everyone has their own definition of beauty. Representation is extremely important in society and cinema. The way women are displayed affects how they see themselves, and their self-confidence.Manpreet SinghParticipant@manpreetJuly 16, 2021 at 11:18 am #33129
For its beautiful casting, glittering clothing, and energetic dance routines, Bollywood is well known. But the reputation for encouraging the brownface offensive is likewise much less positive. Blackface and brownface notions extend back to the 19th century in the United States when white performers darken their maquila faces and utilize racial stereotypes to represent black or other ethnic minority characters. White executives did so at a time when the industry itself excluded non-white experts. And in England, the practice goes back to the Elizabethan period, when directors routinely put white performers as minority players.
Bollywood has taken a brownface on a lot of films, particularly when portraying characters from poor backgrounds by temporarily darkening the complexion of performers. As in Hollywood’s early days, critics believe that Bollywood typically prefers to hire artists with naturally darker skin to perpetuate discrimination and inequality in the industry.
The hit film “Bala” in 2019, for example, depicted a woman who endured discrimination due to her skin tone. The woman has been played by Bhumi Pednekar, the famous actress (seen above), who darkened her skin to perform the role. Some Indian media, analysts, and social media have blasted the move.
The approach of this is an ancient notion towards justice. On the other hand, fairness has been treasured and regarded as a sign of attractiveness and rank. Bollywood had two significant precursors, and Indian cinema in general, religious iconography. Hindu gods and goddesses, with the exception of Shiva, Rama, and Krishna with black skin, are astonishingly white. In 1947, India’s independence created the door for a new constitution prohibiting discrimination on caste grounds, yet in parts of India, it still remains entrenched. Human Rights Watch observed in its 2019 World Report that Dalits, historically known as “untouchables” continued “discrimination in education and work.” In choosing a fair, well-known actor over a dark-skinned performer, a large-budget film “financially viable” is based on the will, film director Neeraj Ghaywan, who has been working on Bollywood and independent films. “So in Bollywood people believe it.”DISHA SAPKALEParticipant@42dishaJuly 22, 2021 at 11:25 pm #33229
India film industry & indian ad industry always make offensive practice of brownface, The filmmaker always choose brown colour people if film is related to slum area’s & village related story and on the other side if the film story is related to rich person they screen white human which means from the filmmakers perspective in india the rich people is clean & white and middle class people is brown & dirty. Not only films but also ad’s promoting stereotypes on a new generation, They ad’s is like if a man or a women is black no one will see them or talk to them everyone will avoid them & if a person is white everyone like to talk to them, example: FAIR & LOVELY and FAIR & HANDSOME – fair & lovely promote fairness “whiteness”. At old times, when British people were ruling our country, from that time indian people has thinking like fair people are more talented and clever than brownface people it happens because people were not well educated this was the big reason behind that but in today’s generation there are people with high education they also discriminate and make offense about brownface people. There is movie called “Bala” they are clearly showing brownface as offensive one and it is also shows that indian society are still discriminating brownface women. To portray lower class people movies and tv shows usually does over makeup to give brownface looks to actor or actress. And when the movies and tv shows wants to show model or high class people they prefer fair skin tone actor or actress. Indian film industry should stop making offensive about brownface it gives the wrong message to society due to which it leads to inequality, discrimination, stereotypes, comparison between white and brown people skin tone. They should portray both colour people equally without letting down of brownface people.PALAK KASHIVParticipant@palakJuly 24, 2021 at 3:04 pm #33241
The film industry does this discrimination with the brown and fair people they always prefer actors and actresses who have fair skin and are skinny and nice body over the people who are darker tone but this give wrong influence to our society it shows that how much we are demeaning we are beauty is what we perceive others how we adore other if we start giving an opportunity to people who are given a role to the people who have darker tone maybe people not accept them for the first time but a slowly they inspire, also why in some movies actors and actors which belongs to a poor family and lower caste are shown darker tone why not fair, we are portraying that to audience people who have a darker tone is ugly poor which is bullshit, stop making them look negative establish some equality give chance to the people who have really nice acting skill and talent. After so many decades, Bala’s movie came is very nice portrayed about this issue. Normal people also wrongly behave with people by they start discriminating fair people with black people use very bad words to call them to make fun of them. stop making songs like gore gore mukhde pe kala kala chashma, chittiyan kaliyan, and what this song are giving the wrong message. For entertainment purposes we should not forget our morals and ethics, there are a lot of other ways. So please end this racism and start evolving so in the future our entertainment industry recognize as a unique industry.
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