Get Inspired, Be Empowered Forums Sexism & Patriarchy Why do the Indian film industries use the offensive practice of brownface? Reply To: Why do the Indian film industries use the offensive practice of brownface?

Manpreet Singh
Not Helpful

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.”