Ileana D’Cruz’s Upcoming Movie Will Talk About How Dusky Women Are Not Considered Beautiful In India
If you are born a dusky woman in India, you inadvertently sign up for the lifelong membership of unsolicited advice, comments and remarks from your relatives, friends and family. Since childhood, we are told not to play in the sun for long, stay away from light colours that bring our complexion down and apply whitening ubtans and face packs to look ‘beautiful’. Listening to these things all your life pressures you into believing you are less than those fair cousins and friends of yours. The worst is when you are shamed for your dark skin by complete strangers when you decide to get married and the only thing rishta aunties have to say is “rang thoda dull hai.”
Colourism is a serious problem that causes prejudice towards dusky and dark skinned women and not matter how much we deny it and say we have evolved into more considerate beings, it is prevalent in society. A lot of Bollywood movies have also subtly talked about this issue but mostly in a comic tone. Ileana D’Cruz seeks to change that with her upcoming movie Unfair & Lovely (yes, the title is a play on the name of popular fairness cream). In the film, she plays Lovely, a desi dusky woman who faces discrimination because of the colour of her skin.
Talking about the project that will tap on deep-rooted colourism in India, D’Cruz said, “This story is beautifully written. It is not overtly in your face preachy. It is an entertaining fun story that touches upon a very sensitive topic. It gives you the most human perspective to it. People will relate to it and it will also open up their mind a little more and not be narrow-minded when it comes to color in this country.” Our society is highly obsessed with fairness and considers only fair women beautiful, a mindset this movie will try to change. “Colour doesn’t define beauty. It is like saying, the sky is not beautiful at night but it is as you get to see stars,” adds D’Cruz.
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We are also glad that Ileana D’Cruz was cast in the movie who has a naturally beautiful dusky complexion instead of blackfacing a fair actress for the role (think Bhumi Pednekar in Bala). We have so many gorgeous dusky ladies in Bollywood to represent the influence of colourism in India which shatters the confidence and self-esteem of girls from a young age. D’Cruz says that colourism doesn’t exist in Bollywood as such but in society. She says, “With this story, I take pride that we have different and unconventional-looking women in our industry. We have all sorts of women in Bollywood who are equally loved and are successful. There is this obsession not in the film industry but more so in the country. I don’t know if the film industry has to be blamed for it because we idolise women.”
We are not sure about that since a lot of actresses like Konkana Sharma and Nandita Das have spoken about how they have been rejected because of their skin colour. Plus, a number of TV actresses like Nia Sharma and Ulka Gupta have also faced bias and rejection due to being dusky. In fact, a recent AI study found that in Bollywood movies, fair is still considered beautiful.
Although we have many dusky actresses from Rekha to Kajol to Radhika Apte and Sobhita Dhilipala, we won’t say B’town is complety free of this prejudice. Maybe it stems from what the audience wants their female leads to look like which prompts the makers to look for a fair woman for a role but colourism does exist in Bollywood to some extent. We just hope this movie smashes these beauty stereotypes and gives its audience something to think about when it comes to skin colour, film fraternity included.