The Rise of the Quarter-breeds in Bollywood

We saw Kabir Singh over the weekend and while I had issues with the film; I enjoyed it.

I had known of Kiara Advani (the lead actress playing a demure Punjabi girl) but I had just assumed she was another Sindhi (Brahmin) girl.

I was surprised to look at her profile and see that she’s half Muslim but that the Muslim half is mixed in with some European.

So essentially like the Kapoor sisters; Alia Bhatt (Vidhi was telling me that she’s Muslim because her nana is Razdan loll) and now Kiara, there is a trend of starlets having a hidden European maternal grandmother (lets not even start with Katrina Kaif).

They have the Indian surname, upbringing and Hindi but also get that “look enhancement” from the European infusion. I’m using that controversial term because that is the Indian beauty standards; sharp features with a fair skin and dark hair/eyes.

Pakistan girls will usually push the envelope and lighten their hair, if they can pull it off. Though I find the Pakistani aesthetic standard to be sometimes a bit too fake for my own tastes.

Intriguingly enough this aesthetic appeal was probably fixed during the Mughal-Muslim period since its not a European ideal. It also doesn’t feel that pre-Muslim India’s aesthetic ideal was similar but then in the Indian Numismatics podcast I was told India’s only imports were wine & (fair) women..

The irony is that the Western perception of Desi beauty is more along the lines of Freida Pinto; softer features with duskier skin.

Happy birthday to Hollywood’s most fabulous Brown Star; Mindy Kaling. She’s an amazing role model on so many levels and as I tell all my +35 single Desi female friends, just go to the sperm bank and get a tall Dane to be your baby-daddy.

Of course my own hypocrisy knows no bounds since my social media coup; I’ve erased all the previous Brown symbols (Kal Penn / Mergagh Man) and replaced it with Kiara Advani, Mughal Princesses & the Hum Safar cast(e).

26 thoughts on “The Rise of the Quarter-breeds in Bollywood”

  1. “The irony is that the Western perception of Desi beauty is more along the lines of Freida Pinto; softer features with duskier skin.”

    She is absolutely stunning. What’s more, she’s a type of beauty that many Indian girls could aspire to. Literally the girl next door as well (grew up in the northern Mumbai suburb of Malad, a few minutes down the road from my folks). Couldn’t get TV or film work in India because she was apparently too dark.

    It’s a real shame that most Desi folks have the colorism worm in their brain and can’t appreciate the native beauty that exists in abundance in the Desh for what it is. I’d like to see us celebrating more women like Nandita Das and Nidhi Sunil instead of cut rate knock offs of the Persian beauty standard…

    1. I feel as the years roll by the whole “Persian” beauty thing has standardized to even greater extent. Considering now it has become easier to acquire that look through various means.

      The only thing which has changed is folks like Nandita Das and Freida Pinto have specific roles now written for them. For example , Sobhita Dhulipala as poor brown rags to rich in Made in heaven TV show. That and this recent fascination of Bollywood with small towns.

      Even the South movie stars have started looking more and more like their Bollywood counterparts.

      1. LOL, she and Salman Khan campaigned for Rajpakshe last election

        I know very few actors or actresses by their looks just by name. Even Jacqueline Fernandez is just a name, had to google.

        Now that I know she campaigned for Rajapakse’s a little more impressed. I am a Rajapakse fan, they brought peace and order into Sri Lanka.

        My favorite SL movie star from four decades ago is Swarna Mallawarachchi. She is on the light skinned side for a Sri Lankan., but what is considered Sinhalese feature. Good actress.
        If you get a chance see the movie, Suddilage Kathawa. Set in small village and jungle.

        I think she got brain cancer and then breast cancer. Is some kind of activist now.

      1. Sumit,

        Because of the surname Fernandez (and her skin color) she would be considered Burgher

        If go thru the link, there is a photograph of her grandparents.
        They both look like your average sinhalese.

        Mother is Malaysian descent and her maternal grandfather hails from Canada (what ever that means)..

        1. Makes sense, I guess Burger status is mostly based on outward signifiers like name / look in Sri Lanka.

          In India Anglo-Indians and Luso-Indians are basically treated like a caste.

          A multi-generational community, of them look very Indian (for eg. Russell Peters), others can look very much more european or mixed.

          They get some reservation benefits in federal parliament, as well as some state. Some states give the community OBC benefits as well (I think kerala).

  2. As someone who is blithely indifferent to Bollywood movies, I can’t tell one Kapoor or Kaif from another, they all look the same to me. I think Kajol looks uniquely South Asian and she is the only major Bollywood actress I can identify instantly. But I can show you plenty of Punjabi Khatri women who look just like the Kapoors, and they have no European blood in them. Who’s to say the northwest Indian ideal of beauty is any less valid than the peninsular one? I am, however, sure that this ideal of beauty in northwest India goes further back than the Islamic period. I remember reading of a Sanskrit play (the title of which I absolutely cannot recall) which mentions how hot the ‘Huna’ women were, which in this context would be the Hepthalites.

    1. “which mentions how hot the ‘Huna’ women were, which in this context would be the Hepthalites.”

      Reminds me of this Telugu movie which showed some random Indo Greek king sending an Iranian girl (aptly played by some white girl) to seduce the Satvahana king Satkarni ??

      Looks like the movie got that part right

  3. I long for the day when a slight hint of Gond eyes, or Munda lips will be considered “looks enhancement”.

    To some extent native indian looks of the mongoloid kind are actually quite in demand. From anecdotal evidence I know that male student of north eastern states are quite popular with girls in colleges of Delhi and Mumbai. Presumably it is due to their somewhat exotic east asian looks, and also due to the fact that for some reason they all know how to play guitar.

    1. i don’t recall any bengali woman in bengali circles being considered less attractive due to an east asian cast to her features.

  4. If you go to Ajanta and look at the cave frescoes, it is jarring to see brown women and men of different shades depicted respectfully, and attractively by brown artists.

    It is jarring only because I almost never see such representation. Tokenism in the west, and light skin look in the East. One to the things that made me realize that media representation is important.

      1. Very pretty, interesting life too.

        Anita recalls a telling incident. ‘At the Delhi Film Festival in the early 1980s, when I was in India, we (Smita, Poonam Dhillon and I) had forgotten our delegate badges. They allowed Poonam in but not Smi because she did not look like a film star.’ The film being screened was Chakra. Our fair and lovely hang-up did not even spare an iconic National Award–winning actor!

  5. What I find interesting is the names people have started giving kids these days – Kiara, Alia, Shanaya etc etc. I have heard of more than one Tiara in my friends’ circle.

    Back in my days, cool girls had names like Dimple, Monica, Rinki, and Pinky.

    1. Back in my day, all the popular girls had names like Shakuntala, Tilottama and Damayanti – a guy from 400 AD, probably.

  6. “What I find interesting is the names people have started giving kids these days – Kiara, Alia, Shanaya ”

    Well someone important in Tamil Nadu wanted tamil parents to give authentic Tamil names to their children. Its just so happened that the very same person is named ‘Stalin’ .

    1. I’m going to give my kids classy names like Janmajeya, Yayati, Panchali etc.

      They might hate me for it but I don’t care.

  7. “I tell all my +35 single Desi female friends, just go to the sperm bank and get a tall Dane to be your baby-daddy.”

    For centuries (until 1972) the official title of Danish kings was the “King/queen of Wends and Goths” (plus Vandals in Sweden). Those guys were Scandinavian violet colour on recent Razib’s map. Danes (mostly came from ancient Dacia) are R1a, I2…Two exemplars of this breed are Nikola Tesla (r1a) and Novak Djokovic (I2). Both, 1.88m tall.

    So, if a bank deposit is needed….

Comments are closed.

Brown Pundits