Bollywood is the largest film industry in India, producing around 20% of all Indian films. For most of my life, I didn’t enjoy watching Indian movies because I thought they were exaggerated and too long. Recently, however, this has not been the case, as I am eager to watch Hindi movies when I get the chance. I still believe that there are many scenes in movies that could never happen in real life, but as a whole, Bollywood movies resonate with me and I really do love them.
Although these days, I am completely obsessed with watching Hindi movies, I can’t help but feel like there is a large problem in Bollywood with lack of diversity.
In India, having light skin is considered beautiful and there are numerous products that claim to lighten one’s skin that are even endorsed by movie stars. Growing up, I would get dark easily when I was outside so I was always told to stay in the shade and even carried an umbrella with me to school to block the sun’s rays. I even used said skin lightening products like soaps, face washes, and creams to make me lighter. Nothing worked, and for a very long time, I hated my dark complexion. In Indian movies, the main characters are always fair – people with dark skin are cast as supporting roles and are often made fun of and serve as the comedy in the movie.
Additionally, actors with larger bodies have yet to be cast as lead roles in movies. Once again, plus-sized actors are cast as supporting roles such as family members and are the butt of the joke because of their weight. When children see this happen, they will be more inclined to insult other people based on appearances, or criticize themselves for looking a certain way.
Current Bollywood movies are leaning more towards issues other than romantic love, such as Dear Zindagi, which challenges the stigma around mental health. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil celebrates the power of friendship and how it can affect your life for good. Even though today’s themes are relevant, it would appeal to a wider audience if more diverse actors were cast in these movies.
While Bollywood and Indian movies in general will always be special to me, times are changing, and if the movie industry wants to appeal to more people, actors of different colors and shapes need to be represented.