Presentation Title

In All Fairness & Unfairness: an Analysis of Colorism in Stanley Ka Dabba

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Andrew Nelson

Start Date

23-11-2019 12:45 PM

End Date

23-11-2019 1:00 PM

Location

Markstein 201

Session

oral 3

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

humanities_letters

Abstract

India’s multi-genre film industry, Bollywood, has gained criticism for glorifying fairer-skinned characters and demonizing darker-skinned characters, an issue known as colorism. Scholars have examined this issue in romantic-genre Bollywood films and television; however, Indian children’s films remain overlooked. Many film academics hold the false impression that the genre lacks profound socio-cultural messages and, therefore, offers little scholarly value if analyzed. To fill this gap and provide a more holistic understanding of Bollywood’s colorism issue, I analyzed the popular Hindi children’s film, Stanley Ka Dabba (Stanley’s Lunchbox), asking: to what extent does the film reinforce Indian ideas of colorism through its adult characters? Using Proppian narrative theory and critical theory, I discovered the film portrays colorist notions to a great extent, as evidenced by the majority of its narrative functions. The film falls trap playing into the same colorist caricatures presented in romantic-genre cinema, such as the one-dimensional darker-skinned villain Sir Verma and light-skinned savior Miss Rosie. However, unique to this film was its counter-stereotypical representations. These characterizations were ineffective, for example, when Sir Verma feels guilty for unjustly expelling child protagonist Stanley from school but only after Miss Rosie confronts him about it. This finding suggests that children’s films may present colorist notions differently from other Bollywood genres, and, thus, merits further scholarship to evaluate its pertinence to other Bollywood children's films. Moreover, children’s films could serve as an appropriate medium to address colorist notions, instead of contributing to them. One way may be to construct more nuanced adult characters who exhibit both fairer-skinned and darker-skinned stereotypes - possibly, minimizing associations between complexions and positive or negative characteristics. While limited to only one film, this analysis opens up potential areas in film production and film studies - areas that could, one day, address colorism and bring children’s films into the academic spotlight.

Keywords: Bollywood, Colorism, Film Analysis, Indian Children’s Cinema, Stanley Ka Dabba

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 23rd, 12:45 PM Nov 23rd, 1:00 PM

In All Fairness & Unfairness: an Analysis of Colorism in Stanley Ka Dabba

Markstein 201

India’s multi-genre film industry, Bollywood, has gained criticism for glorifying fairer-skinned characters and demonizing darker-skinned characters, an issue known as colorism. Scholars have examined this issue in romantic-genre Bollywood films and television; however, Indian children’s films remain overlooked. Many film academics hold the false impression that the genre lacks profound socio-cultural messages and, therefore, offers little scholarly value if analyzed. To fill this gap and provide a more holistic understanding of Bollywood’s colorism issue, I analyzed the popular Hindi children’s film, Stanley Ka Dabba (Stanley’s Lunchbox), asking: to what extent does the film reinforce Indian ideas of colorism through its adult characters? Using Proppian narrative theory and critical theory, I discovered the film portrays colorist notions to a great extent, as evidenced by the majority of its narrative functions. The film falls trap playing into the same colorist caricatures presented in romantic-genre cinema, such as the one-dimensional darker-skinned villain Sir Verma and light-skinned savior Miss Rosie. However, unique to this film was its counter-stereotypical representations. These characterizations were ineffective, for example, when Sir Verma feels guilty for unjustly expelling child protagonist Stanley from school but only after Miss Rosie confronts him about it. This finding suggests that children’s films may present colorist notions differently from other Bollywood genres, and, thus, merits further scholarship to evaluate its pertinence to other Bollywood children's films. Moreover, children’s films could serve as an appropriate medium to address colorist notions, instead of contributing to them. One way may be to construct more nuanced adult characters who exhibit both fairer-skinned and darker-skinned stereotypes - possibly, minimizing associations between complexions and positive or negative characteristics. While limited to only one film, this analysis opens up potential areas in film production and film studies - areas that could, one day, address colorism and bring children’s films into the academic spotlight.

Keywords: Bollywood, Colorism, Film Analysis, Indian Children’s Cinema, Stanley Ka Dabba