Bhumi Pednekar in Bala is another case Bollywood’s hypocrisy

Bollywood casting has always been a subject of controversy. It is not just about the star kids making their way into cinemas effortlessly but also about color and age-related casting. 

I watched the Bollywood movie, Bala(2019, Hindi), directed by Amar Kaushik recently. Well, from an industry that is obsessed with good looks and fair skin, the change will evolve slowly.

 Latika, a dark-skinned girl from Kanpur who is not at all ashamed of her complexion unlike the rest of her family is portrayed by the very talented Bhumi Pednekar. 

A fair-skinned Bhumi is painted brown to personify a dusky complexioned Latika; hypocrisy number one! The industry is not short of dark-skinned actors but still opting to cover up a fair-skinned actress in a dark make up is a logic I find too difficult to comprehend. The film was criticized by the public for its character depiction.

Is it the star value of Bhumi or the age-old Bollywood custom of giving preference to only fair-skinned actresses? From people who grew up singing “Gore Gore Gaalon pe Kala Kala Chashma”,  expecting colorism does not come as surprise. 

What makes the execution of the character so questionable is how unevenly the makeup has been applied, the tone varies in every scene and is unrealistic at its best. 

And about Ayushmann Khuranna who donned the role of a bald man(hypocrisy number two!), I can hardly comment; I just turn around and look at Vinay Fort from Tamasha(Mal, 2019) and breathe a sigh of relief; a bald in real life who played a bald in the film with perfection and naturality! There is a reason why the Malayalam industry is appreciated for its realistic approach.  

bhumi pednekar

 Ageism is as much an issue as colorism is. Actors over fifty(condition applied-only women mostly) are typecasted for “mummy” roles. No matter how good an actor they are, the only offers they are ever going to get is that of the leads’ mother. 

Saand ki Aankh(Hindi, 2019)  is undoubtedly a beautiful film telling the tale of the Tomar sisters who are exceptionally good shooters. The lead actresses Bhumi Pednekar and Tapsee Pannu who played Chandro Tomar and Prakashi Tomar respectively did a wonderful job playing the older part rather effortlessly. 

But the question here is, wouldn’t it be more appropriate to cast older actresses as the sixty something-year-old Tomar sisters? Actresses Neena Gupta and Soni Razdan had expressed their desire in playing the titular role and I find that as an excellent choice for casting. But the film has to make some business ain’t it? 

And for business, Bollywood minds color and age. At times, more than talent, these are the factors that are prioritized while check listing the success factors of a movie!

saand ki aankh

Continuing on ageism, it makes me wonder why the concept is rarely applicable to the men in cinema? Every time a male hero over forty or fifty is cast in a film, his female counterpart is never of the same age, rather she is expected to be someone twenty years younger to him! It’s normalized for such men to play college-going students and Romeos but not for women!

    In the end, it is all about star value, looks, and business.
When this preconceived begins to change, we will get a better cinema!!!!

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