Is Bollywood “whitening” Indian beauty standards?

Since Vidhi’s passing remarks seem to generate so much controversy on BP; I thought I would share a statement she made to me earlier (I usually send her the links when I’m quoting her but she’s too busy to read them).

But she was pointing me towards this latest starlet:

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Many moons ago 🦋 @sashajairam

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V was saying that she could look Spanish or Italian and the first person who came to my mind was Natalie Portman. V was then comparing Tara to Madhubala or Meena Kumari who had much more “Indian looks.”

Image result for meena kumari

It’s interesting that India as a civilisation cum country is still in its “importing stage.” Even Madhubala and Meena Kumari reflect more “Turanin” standards of beauty than indigenous Indian.

In my podcast on Numismatics; Mohit mentioned that India was interested in only two products from Rome; wine and (fair) women.

Related image

In some ways I do prefer the Western aesthetic where tanning is encouraged since I find tanning to be a healthy exercise. But my biggest gripe with South Asians is when they show no swag whatsoever; the vast majority of South Asians are very happy to be pot-bellied. This might be a function of poverty but there is never an excuse to be unfit.

Finally I’m shocked and disgusted by the antics of Arjun Rampal to be happily fathering an illegitimate child less than a year after his divorce. He’s following in the footsteps of his comrades, Farhan Akhtar and Saif Ali Khan (philandering in the tradition of the Holy Pedophile). All three men have teenage daughters and it just sets a bad model.

At least Neha Drupia had the good sense to marry the father of her child before the birth.

I was about to thank the Lord we have Pakistan to preserve our “moral fibre” (I’m usually a libtertine but I think promiscuity, if done, should be done with good taste like in the court of Versaille) and then I remembered that our Leader in Chief is not reputable whatsoever.

Imran slept with half of polite society, fathered a child with an heiress then married another heiress half his age and now he’s PM of Pakistan. I suspect that’s why Imran looks so haggard in his old age (he was probably into the drinks & drugs scene but one can never know).

Image result for imran khan

46 Replies to “Is Bollywood “whitening” Indian beauty standards?”

  1. It’s the 21st century. We don’t really talk about “illegitimate” children anymore. No one is “illegitimate” whether they are born out of wedlock or not. People’s sexuality and their marital choices are their own concern. Who are you to be so judgemental?

    1. That’s true I’m a being a tad judgemental.

      But I do think wedlock is the best system to bring up a child in (whatever form that may be; Gay marriage etc).

      I think that a child is a stronger commitment than marriage fwiw so if people aren’t ready to get married how on earth are they able to have a child together?

      1. Many people are in committed relationships without ever being legally married.

        Arjun Rampal is divorced so it’s not like he’s cheating on anyone. If he and his girlfriend want to have a child, that’s their personal choice.

  2. Tara Sutaria IMO looks like someone who studies in Delhi University, she isn’t that “distinct” looking.

    I would argue that “Indian looking” actress like Deepika Padukone are comparative more “non Indian” looking , considering more than whiteness (Vicky Kaushal for example) i feel its more and more the “fit”-ness aspect of various stars which is the non-Indian thing (considering our diet)

          1. Zach I don’t doubt that at all, you look very good, and I’m sorry if I seemed presumptuous.

      1. Biologically speaking, fitness (Darwinian definition), is the ability to survive to reproductive age, find a mate, and produce offspring. The more offspring an organism produces, the greater its biological fitness

        1. “Biologically speaking, fitness (Darwinian definition), is the ability to survive to reproductive age, find a mate, and produce offspring. The more offspring an organism produces, the greater its biological fitness”

          Spoken like a true beta male.

  3. Actresses like Tara Sutaria come and go.
    But any cohort of leading Bollywood actresses usually shows more ethnic diversity than leading male actors, who are mostly all from the north (-westerly) stock.

    Just look at the biggest actresses from the last 20-30 years.
    Rani Mukherjee (Bengali), Kajol (Bengali + Marathi), Madhuri (Marathi), Sridevi (Tamil), Urmila (Marathi), Karishma (Punjabi)
    Closer in time, Deepika (Kannada), Vidya Balan (Tamil), Priyanka (Punjabi + Bihari + Mallu), Anushka (UP), Kangana (HP), Sonam (Punjabi)

    I feel that Indians like their leading women to be ethnic and ‘cultured’ while men can be uncouth.

      1. Lol. That article might be described as, among things, classist or ‘orientalist’. But it has a kernel of truth to it.

      2. SDutta,

        Nice. Any way my perspective.

        Not sure how old you are. Once you start hitting the 50’s and and above its a struggle to keep the hair and nails in control.

        Dont worry too much of the hair in the ears because I rarely look at the mirror.

        I do worry about hair where the sun dont shine and that gets removed on a very regular basis As a caring guy I have no wish for hair to be ingested.

        If I do wear a shirt, its open to my midriff, unhappily no gold. Its a statement, I am broke and from an Island in the Tropics.

        I think at my age a big fat wallet over comes all those hair problems, no necessity to be a caring guy either. Unhappily, no big wallet for me, gift of the gab helps though.

        https://photos.app.goo.gl/GrxwqZeSQWpfjGon9

        1. “I do worry about hair where the sun dont shine and that gets removed on a very regular basis As a caring guy I have no wish for hair to be ingested.”

          Mate, too much information!

  4. “I feel that Indians like their leading women to be ethnic and ‘cultured’ while men can be uncouth. ”

    I’ve always interpreted that through the lens that Bollywood deals in fantasy and escapism in a primarily poor and patriarchal society. You want to titillate and bedazzle the male gaze, but at the same time, sell them the fantasy that it could by some stretch of the imagination, be them on the screen, or at least have them identify with the protagonist. Upward mobility on the sexual marketplace is an intoxicating dream to sell to the Indian masses.

    Only in Bollywood is there space for `boy next door’ looking men with limited acting skills like Mithun Chakraborty, Govinda, Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgan to become superstars. Amitabh is the original angry young man that every villager could identify with. He’s definitely handsome, but not the out of reach handsome (for the typical Indian) of the Sashi or Raj Kapoor variety. Same with SRK compared to his more model looking male cohorts.

    1. “Only in Bollywood is there space for `boy next door’ looking men with limited acting skills like Mithun Chakraborty, Govinda, Shah Rukh Khan and Ajay Devgan to become superstars”

      What would you put someone like Nawazudiin success down to? `boy next door’ looking men or acting abilities?

      1. I’d say that Nawazuddin Siddiqui is one of the finest acting talents of his generation. His portrayals of Balasaheb Thackeray*, Manto and Gaitonde (Sacred Games character) were top notch. An artist in the truest sense of the word.

        It seems he may even have a bit of the ugly sexy thing going on (like Gainsbourg or Nick Cage). I’ve had more than one female acquaintance comment on how hot they find him. Go figure.

        * irony of ironies…

        1. I think its difficult to decipher what makes anyone tick. Neither the `boy next door’ looking men or acting abilities is the whole thing. And that applies to Nawaz as well. In my view he is not as good as actor he is held out to, but actually its more of “`boy next door’ looking men” thing which helps him out. I could distinctly see him struggle with Wasseypur when he had to “physically” dominate (in scenes) pathans and thakurs.

          The converse i feel is true of Shah Rukh who is feted for his “`boy next door’ looking men” (his ticket to superstardom) , but i feel actually its his acting ability (his earlier movies Bazigar, Darr etc ) which has helped him out.

          1. Indeed that there are many things that go into the `X-factor’, not all of them overlapping for different folks. For the record however, you’re the first person who’s extolled SRK’s acting abilities to me! I haven’t seen either of the movies you mentioned, but in Swades for example, some people raved about his acting but I found it risible. If it weren’t for A.R. Rahman playing your emotions in the background, I’d say many of the scenes would’ve fallen flat on their face. Try watching it with the volume down to see what I mean.

            As varied a talent as Nawazuddin is, it’s true that he’s not cut out for the more physical roles. Everyone has their limits, although he nails Gaitonde’s more physical scenes because he can portray deranged and volatile pretty convincingly. I expect him to go far. I actually rate him up there with Krishna Bhanji in terms of versatility.

          2. “For the record however, you’re the first person who’s extolled SRK’s acting abilities to me!”

            LOL, even i myself am surprised to having defend his acting abilities. I guess his earlier movies he had to act, because his life dependent on it while post DDLJ he was a star , that’s why now he struggles because he is a star trying to be actor.

  5. I don’t follow Bollywood movies but I ask someone to explain me:

    Why many B. actresses have Serbian names:

    Tara, Meena, Devika, Radika, Priya(nka), Anushka, Vid(y)a, Urmila (esp. in Czech R.) etc…?

    1. Milan,

      What is the role of Yayati, Turvasu, and Yavana in Serbia?

      Might the Serbs have the following genealogy:
      —Brahma
      —Marichi and Kala
      —Brihaspati and Aditi
      —Surya and Saranyu
      —Shraddhadeva Manu (also called Vaivasvata Manu)
      —Illa and Budha (Mercury)
      —Pururavas and Urvashi
      —Ayu and Prabha
      —Nahusha and Ashokasundari
      —Yayati and Devayani
      —Turvasu, progenitor of the Yavanas

      Genealogy of Devayani:
      —Brahma
      —Brighu and Kavyamata
      ——Brighu being one of the most important if not the most important sons of Brahma.
      —Sukra (Venus) and Jayanti (daughter of Indra and Sachi {daughter of Puloman})
      ——Indra = king of Devas and son of Kashyapa and Aditi
      —Devayani

      Genealogy of Budha (moon):
      —Brahma
      —Atri and Anasuya (sister of Kapila {father of Samkhya Darshana, Buddha’s previous incarnation and very important to Jainism and Buddhism}, daughter of Kardama and Devahuti)
      —Chandra (moon) and Tara (wife of Brihaspati/Jupitor)
      —Budha (Mercury)

      Some of the above are gender fluid.

      ++++++++++++++++++

      Please let me know the role of Turvasu and his descendants (Yavanas) in Serbian narrative histories.

      Could Turvasu’s descendants have gone back east?

      Could Nimrod be a Serbian descendent of Turvasu? [Have no idea if this is possible.]

      How might the Biblical, Babylonian, Akkadian, Sumerian narrative histories intersect with Serbian and eastern ones?

      1. Will do but I need some time. Some names are very similar but localized. The last question is very interesting and requires longer elaboration.

  6. “It’s the 21st century. We don’t really talk about ‘illegitimate’ children anymore. No one is ‘illegitimate’ whether they are born out of wedlock or not.”

    The fact that it is the current year, that illegitimacy is no longer a legal category and that people no longer “really talk about” it does not change the underlying issue nor cover for the mountains of evidence suggesting a correlation among high rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancy, unstable families and poor socialization. What we do or talk about is not necessarily what we should do or should talk about.

    “Many people are in committed relationships without ever being legally married.”

    This is true, although whenever people tell me they are in a “committed relationship” the depth and longevity of said relationship tends to be EXTREMELY variable. Granted the divorce rate is high as well but one should in my view looks at such things as aggregates.

    Fundamentally, however, if a couple is so “committed” to one another is it really so much to ask that they seal this commitment before an approving public on whom they intend to impose the children that are the fruits of this “commitment”? That is what marriage *is* after all, and it’s no accident that undisciplined parents tend to have undisciplined children. That is why we have institutions intended hopefully over time to discipline at a minimum people who see fit to live in society.

    1. It is no longer considered appropriate to label children as “illegitimate”. Mores have changed.

      If you believe that children should be brought up in a household comprising of two married parents, by all means establish such an arrangement for yourself. However, you cannot impose your moral judgements on the rest of society.

      Some people see marriage as an outdated institution or as simply a bureaucratic thing. There are people living together outside marriage who are more committed than many married people who are for example cheating on each other. We are not in a position to judge other people’s family arrangements (though people of a right-wing persuasion are big fans of doing this).

      1. We are not in a position to judge other people’s family arrangements (though people of a right-wing persuasion are big fans of doing this).

        plenty of left-wing ppl judge family arrangments. look at the criticism of neo-trads and quiverfulls, with accusations of women in these families of having false-consciousness. most of my friends are left-wing white ppl. so i hear complaints from them all the time about other types of whites with different lifestyles (the assumption that actualization requires similar life choices to themselves).

        your general point is one that is fine. but somehow you make yourself out to be a pompous ass who can’t think himself out of a box.

        1. In my experience, it is generally right-wing people who are concerned about what other people do in bed or about “illegitimate” children. Left-wing people tend to give others more freedom when it comes to matters of personal morality. As long as someone isn’t breaking the law, it should be no concern of anyone else’s how they run their life.
          I have no idea what neo-trads are so I can’t speak to that specific issue.

          1. What percentage of the world’s 1.5 billion muslims do you think encourage young people to have children outside of wedlock?

            “Left-wing people tend to give others more freedom when it comes to matters of personal morality.”

            :LOL:

          2. This is not about Islam, so I don’t know why you are bringing that up. Most religions advocate conservative social values.

            I don’t believe that it is anyone’s place to judge other people’s moral choices. Whether Mr. Rampal and his partner choose to marry or not is solely their concern. Use of words like “illegitimate” to refer to human beings is dehumanizing and reminiscent of Victorian England.

            It is the right-wing that is overly concerned about other people’s sexuality and life choices. The Left tends to be more concerned about advocating equal rights for everyone and addressing systemic injustices.

          3. I know many left-wing people who think polygamous marriages or relationships are wrong.

          4. Everyone is free to think that a particular thing is wrong or right. But we have no authority to impose our values on other people (assuming that those people are within the law).

            The left tends to stay out of people’s bedrooms while the right seems to be very interested in regulating sexuality and personal relationships.

      2. “You cannot impose your moral judgements on the rest of society”

        This is what every country does via something called, “the law”. There are gradients based on whether these judgements are from the masses or the elite, but they ultimately are all moral judgements enforced on us by men with guns.

      3. I think Razib Kahn and INDTHINGS have adequately replied to Kabir, who tellingly did not answer my objections to his (her?) previous positions but simply restated them. So I
        will restate this, because there seems to be at least one person who doesn’t get it: for better or for worse, saying something does not make it so, and what is popular is not always right.

        1. kabir is repeating rhetorical nostrums. ‘you can’t legislate morality.’ actually, we do all the time.

          perhaps he’s brilliant as a musician and music theorist or whatever he does. but the insipid repetition of platitudes that are fed intellectually incurious college-educated people gets tiresome. (i think he genuinely thinks these are rock-solid because his professors did not challenge him to think deeply about the mantras he was repeating)

          i agree with kabir about zach’s tone of censure and moralistic pose. i could do without it. otoh, i’m not going to lecture zach on what words he can, or cannot, use. kabir’s language-policing is indicative of his lack of originality and default to conventional modes of thinking.

    2. Nico, perhaps you live in a conservative environment.

      If so, it might be helpful to substitute “marriage” with “committed long term relationship” for most practical purposes.

      Many young people in Abrahamized and westernized societies now appear to believe that marriage is associated with:
      —white supremacy
      —patriarchy
      —“the man” {I have never met “the man”. Has anyone else?}
      —sexism
      —oppressors
      —corporations
      —hegemons
      —imperialists
      —colonialists
      —exploiters
      —racism
      —bigotry
      —prejudice
      —Nazism
      —fascism
      —sectarianism
      —religion
      —spirituality (for those who oppose spirituality)
      —Jews
      —Zionists
      —ableism (does anyone know what this word means?)
      —liberalism (apparently this word is now regarded as “evil”)

      Personally I don’t understand what most of the above words mean. But young people today use them a lot. Maybe they are similar to modern cuss words? Similar to our earlier generations used f*&^, s*&^, a hole, f’ing a, etc. Somehow these words start flying out of many young people when the word “marriage” is used. Many well intentioned young people oppose the concept of “marriage” out of idealism. Maybe read:

      http://www.frontpagemag.com/2014/mallorymillett/marxist-feminisms-ruined-lives/#comment-1707915345

      1. @AnAn: I live in a large Western city. Admittedly, I do move within a comparatively very conservative and relatively religious social subset of that ecosystem, but cohabitation is far from unknown even among my friends. I suppose the difference is that, in such circles, there is an underlying acceptance that this arrangement must or ought to culminate in a formal marriage eventually.

        I will grant Zach’s moralizations in the context of a “general-interest” crowd are indeed a bit eyebrow-raising in our day. Of course he can say what he likes, though if I were to offer some unsollicited advice I might say that such a tirade in these times and circumstances is unlikely to find a significant audience of impact. If that’s what you mean, I agree.

        Nevertheless, I do believe the fallout from the trend away from idealizing marriages and stable pairings with children and looking down at “alternative lifestyles” is on the whole quite negative (while this is only anecdotal, I do have a few friends whose adult lives have been animated by serial monogamy and out-of-wedlock childbearing and I have to say the removal of social stigma on cohabitation or legal handicaps on illegitimacy hasn’t made their lives all that easier). Partly for my own sanity and partly in the hopes of passing something more “classical” down to the children I hope to have someday I don’t want to mentally “normaize” certain trends in the modern world. I realize many others disagree or are indifferent and I accept whatever judgments they wish to pass on me for my thought patterns.

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