The trailer for Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar's 'Bala' released recently, and has been wrapped in controversies ever since. From the trailer, it is quite evident that the film revolves around balding and how the leading character, played by Ayushmann, deals with a receding hairline and the stigma surrounding it.
However, a photo shared on Twitter by actress Bhumi Pednekar has gone viral for the wrong reasons. The photo which features Pednekar offers an insight into her role in the film; yet, desi Twitterati have pointed out that the actor's skin tone looks visibly darker than usual.
What's ironic is that the film also focuses on India's obsession with fair skin and how those with darker skin tones are often discriminated against. In one of the scenes from the trailer, Pednekar can be seen arguing with Ayushmann who emphasises the need for fair skin.
The point is, if the film makers really wanted to shed light on the stereotypes and taboo associated with dark skin in our country, they could have simply cast an actor with a dusky complexion! Instead, they chose to cast Bhumi, who can easily be classified as fair skinned, and made her at least two to three shades darker through make up.
This sparked a debate online with several people calling the film out for endorsing "brownface". Brownface is likely a term derived from "blackface" which was a theatrical practice back in the 19th and 20 centuries when fair skinned performers were given a "blackish" make up in order to portray African American characters. It was eventually deemed extremely offensive and eliminated.
Bhumi Pednekar's tweet was bombarded with comments and messages which condemned the film's use of brownface especially in times when actors and activists are trying desperately to challenge India's inclination towards fairer skin.
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
This is what Twitter had to say:
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
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
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 ️ | Jimin (@ARavenclaw28) October 11, 2019
How do you not realise how problematic this is? — Niki Seth (@NikiSeth2) 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
if only there were any actors in this country with darker skin... if only. #BrownFace #Bala pic.twitter.com/baks9OaeFw — 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 — Jimin love from India (@_TypicalRobot_) October 11, 2019
GET DARK SKINNED ACTRESSES TO PLAY DARK SKINNED ROLES. @JioCinema
— @Tayloracrave (@TobiramasSenju) October 10, 2019
The film makers and Bhumi Pednekar are yet to offer clarifications or justification for the same.