Bhumi Pednekar, who started her career in Bollywood just five years ago, has been taking on challenging roles one after another. Her movies are usually associated with some kind of a social message, and her latest with Ayushmann Khurrana is no exception. In Bala, Ayushmann plays someone battling with the stigma attached with hair loss, and Bhumi plays the role of a dark-skinned girl. When she had shared the poster of the film on Twitter, the backlash was immediate, as she was sporting a brownface.
Here’s the poster:
Main hun Mr. Bald ki dost, Ms. Bold!
Miliye mujhse, jald hi.😉#Bala trailer out at 12 noon!#DineshVijan @amarkaushik @ayushmannk @yamigautam @saurabhshukla_s @jaavedjaaferi #SeemaPahwa @nowitsabhi @SachinJigarLive @sonymusicindia @JioCinema @jiostudios pic.twitter.com/TBSCA3caAt
— bhumi pednekar (@bhumipednekar) October 10, 2019
Just one look at it and you can see that there’s a ton of makeup and post-production editing that was required to turn Bhumi into what is supposed to be a brown-skinned girl.
Immediately, Twitter was flooded with comments from fans calling out the filmmakers for casting Bhumi, and Bhumi for accepting a role like this. Why couldn’t they have just cast a brown-skinned actress? Are you trying to tell us that there is a dearth of talented women in our country who aren’t fair-skinned?
Here are some of the comments from Twitter.
— Karnika (@KarnikaKohli) October 10, 2019
So bollywood is trying to make a statement about India's obsession with fair skin by casting a fair skin woman to play a darker one?
Also! My God that makeup is bad! No dark person looks like that! They are beautiful
— Ekta Chauhan (@ekta2993) October 10, 2019
Tbh, I don't even care about the acting. Maybe this person is a great actor. But like, dude why did y'all put makeup to make a fairly light skinned person into a dark skinned person. Should've just sat there and casted a dark skinned person 🤦🤦🤦
— 🐰 [BTS] (@_TypicalRobot_) October 11, 2019
GET DARK SKINNED ACTRESSES TO PLAY DARK SKINNED ROLES. @JioCinema
— @Tayloracrave (@TobiramasSenju) October 10, 2019
This poster is soo weird💀
and why Bhumi Pednekar when we have Konkona Sen Sharma, Bipasha Basu, Priyanka Chopra and many more bollywood actresses with dusky complextion https://t.co/uk2I2M4sW0
— ๖ۣۜƤiαﾂ (@ShadySGian) October 10, 2019
It's 2019 & people still don't understand that brownface/blackface is highly offensive.
I'm pretty sure there are a lot of talented actresses with a naturally darker skin tone in India.. instead of using make up to darken this actress's complexion. #Bala
— Yuvna (@YUVNA_H) October 11, 2019
brown facing is disrespectful to dark skinned people. is it that hard to find an actual dark skinned actress for this role?? the hypocrisy jumped out.
— kinshu (@yooongayy) October 11, 2019
Y'all are either constantly endorsing fairness creams or putting on tons of dark makeup to make some dumb point there's no in between. When will yall learn that there are real living dark skinned girls who're pretty af and mich better suited for roles like this
— Anjali 🏳️🌈💜 (@ARavenclaw28) October 11, 2019
When will Bollywood grow up and own up to it's mistakes? Isnt it better to cast a dusky-skinned talented girl who'll suit the role instead of finding a lighter skin toned girl and dump darker make up on her?
— Ruth ரூத் (@Ruthstweets) October 11, 2019
In response to the backlash, Bhumi has now given an interview to a leading daily, saying, “See, that was the character. When people see the film they will understand that it is not making fun of colour. It is a film that is trying to break the basic bias or the obsession that people have with fair skin in India. All my films are different and in all my films I look different. I am very clear. Even if I have to play a man I will do it. I’ll do whatever it takes. It’s my director’s prerogative. If he comes to me with an interesting part, why will I not do it?”
That clearly sounds like Bhumi doesn’t realise how problematic brownface is and why representation matters. If a 30-year-old can play the role of a 60-year-old, a fair-skinned girl can essay the role of a dark-skinned girl, doesn’t that sound like ageism and colourism to you, Bhumi? Wouldn’t it be logical to cast an age-appropriate or dark-skinned actress because they anyway don’t get enough roles because of all the prejudice?
But Bhumi went on to defend her role in Bala, and said, “In Bala, I am playing a deep-coloured girl, my character is commenting on the societal bias that is still very prevalent in India on colour, I feel as an actor, the kind of satisfaction I get by not being Bhumi on-screen is something else. I can proudly say this that both are very different, they are not the same people. I love the fact that I can challenge myself and through my work, I can change the way people think. I am not doing ordinary things.”
Featured Image: Twitter
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