The trailer of Super 30 seemed interesting, as it caught attention of several people as Hrithik Roshan, who was last seen in Mohenjo Daro in 2016, is back on the screen after a gap of 3 years. Hrithik, plays the role of Anand Kumar, a maths wiz who takes it upon himself to help people from financially backward classes to help achieve their dreams? And how does he do that? By starting coaching classes for them which would help them crack competitive exams. The movie is based in Patna, Bihar also known as a Hindi heartland area. Hrithik, has ensured that he fits in the role of Anand Kumar to the T. However, his dialect is falling short as for someone who has been born and brought up in plush Mumbai area, it seems evident that the Hindi Heartland, Bihari accent has been rehearsed. But that is not the only technical flaw in the film. Hrithik, has been given a bronze look, which seems as if someone painted him brown to play a working -class character. Hrithik, who is fair and has the body of a Greek-God, doesn’t really fit into the character of a man. But, this is not the only time, when fair Bollywood stars have been ‘bronzed’ to fit into the roles depicting the working class.
Bollywood has always had the habit of making actors turn ‘dark’ to play impoverished characters or the working class. Several movies in the 70s which used to show the workers’ unions or mill and factory workers, or the servants had leading stars turn ‘darker’ for the roles. In the 80s, which saw the advent of the parallel cinema, Bollywood turned inclusive and we had actors who weren’t conventionally ‘good-looking’ or ‘fair’. 90s and 2000 cinema was even more inclusive towards the duskier stars. But somehow, in Bollywood the poor and the working class could only be shown when the leading stars were ‘bronzed’. There was a huge, hue and cry, when Priyanka Chopra in 2014, played the role of Mary Kom, the Olympic-medalist and pugilist from Manipur. The makers supported this move as they wanted to make a commercially viable film. In recent times, Alia Bhatt, who is naturally fair was bronzed-up to play the role of a labourer in Punjab. Bhatt won accolades and awards for her role of Bauria, a woman who struggles with sexual and drug abuse. With the presence of several ‘dark-skinned’ actresses in Bollywood, we wonder why they had to choose a fair actress and brown her up. Ranveer Singh, who played the lead in the film Gully Boys, also had to be ‘bronzed’ up to play a rapper from the slums in Mumbai.
This isn’t a surprise as the country is obsessed with fairness. It isn’t surprising how much the demand of fair-skin products is in this country. But the issue at hand is, when the actors in the industry worth their salt in the industry are ignored and their fairer counterparts are chosen. The duskier stars get films with social messages or films which are heavily driven by content. But their fair counterparts are the ones who are mounted by the big studios and the masala filmmakers. This seems as if the only way dusky actors can get work is by landing serious projects, while the masala films continue with the fair stars. This othering of people with wheatish and darker skin tones has got to stop.