These Bollywood Actresses Defy the Stereotypical Notions of Beauty

These Bollywood Actresses Defy the Stereotypical Notions of Beauty

Scrolling down my instagram feed,  I stumbled upon the #UNFAIR AND LOVELY campaign.  A social campaign gone viral that is challenging the hypocritical habit of colorism. Culture bias dictates our society to look at fair people to be beautiful and talented. And dark skin or dusky to be “just so Indian”!

“Girls mature into beautiful women”. Notice anything wrong with this statement?

I do ! Girls are conditioned from their childhood to look presentable. We are to abide by the stereotypical understanding or are bound to get earmarked as unflattering.

Since time immemorial,  beauty as a label is fancied upon in the tinsel town.  Pancakes of makeup, plastic smiles and contoured features and like are the ingredients endorsed by the celluloid.

But the contemporaries are defying this age old notion. Preponderance of evidence to this is confirmed by the unconventional beauties of the industry that conceal their imperfections through their work that is not made up like the make-up they wear. The unconventional beauties have become mainstream and they conceitedly demonstrate how to embrace ones so called “imperfections”.  Gone are the days when the six lettered word was sabotaged with exaggerated makeup, flawless face and scrawny body. Our Face is unquestionably the map of our world but it’s not just the face that provides the insights of one’s character.

Why do women have to spend hours in front the mirror just to confirm her feminity to the judgemental eyes?

These renegade women have risen above the prejudices of the crème de la crème and are questioning the halo effect. Time to re-emphasize the notion of beauty to be only skin deep.


“Midnight’s Children “Premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival at Roy Thomson Hall on September 9, 2012 in Toronta, Canada.

“Where are you from? Are you a Malayali?”

The veteran actress who never lay low from valorous roles shot to pinnacle with the biopic of Phoolan Devi in Shekar Kapoor’s Bandit Queen taking home the National Award in 1995. Born in Assam, she was casted with her mother for a theater play without her consent that started her frenzy for acting.   Phoolan Devi in person praised her performance and thanked Seema for introducing her to her reality once again.

An NSD alumni, she doesn’t believe in portraying any one image and hence has experimented and outdone her characters in movies like Khamosh, Water, Company, Bhoot, Midnight’s Children, Vivah…Yes, the list is endless! Though childhood was a struggle for the chubby introvert kid, but till date, she has acted in over 40 films in 8 different languages. She proved to be an unconventional bong beauty that never got bogged down by her not so beautiful facial features. The resolute considers determination as her only ally in life. When her play “Going Solo” was at its popularity peak, she suffered from a torn thigh ligament. Even in an immobile condition she did 30 shows.

She vehemently opposes the kind of value often given to performances in Hindi cinema. She believes that not every women can be physically beautiful to appear on screen but that should not stop them from taking risks in their performances. This tradition should be broken!

She was on board among the five member jury board of 45th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) held at Goa in 2014. Watch out for her onscreen in the summer 2016 in Bhaskar Hazarika‘s Assamese Feature Film Kothanodi.


“I became an actress by chance”.

An indubitably acclaimed leading lady, Nandita Das. The actress has won accolades for her performance in Earth, Fire, Kamli, Neerparavai, Bawander, Amaar Bhuvan….u just can’t name it all!

The spectacle has worked in more than 30 feature films in 10 different languages with many eminent directors like Mrinal Sen, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal, Deepa Mehta, Mani Ratnam and others. She wore the director’s hat for her directorial debut in 2008 for Firaaq and between the lines marks her debut as a playwright and theater director. Firaaq scored 20 awards, has travelled to over 50 villages and has received admiration from audiences and critics worldwide. She has acquired masters in social work from University of Delhi and has worked for many NGO’s and continues to vindicate the issues of social justice, especially for those of women, children and marginalized communities, through various platforms.

She has been a featured speaker at many reputed universities and social forums, both in India and oversees. Unconventional runs in her veins. She is the only Indian. She was the Chairperson of Children’s Film Society between 2009 and 2012. Nandita Das was the first Indian to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of the International Women’s Forum. She has also been conferred the ‘Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters’ by the French Government. She was at Yale as a World Fellow in 2014.

A staunch supporter of “DARK IS BEAUTIFUL “campaign believes that the obsession with faired skin women makes one of the many traits that’s plaguing the women clan. She detests to be categorized under the “Dusky” tag. A headstrong reply for a role demanding a change in the skin tone … heads-up…She’s interested NOT! She understands the pain and stress women go through to make their skin look some  shades lighter. Recapitulating her visit to a village is Orissa where there was dearth of water or electricity but every house had the least of a fairness tube.  Complexion correctors have branded the particular “fair skin” with the “IT” factor.  Such commercializing factors have beauty shamed the wearers of their natural skin tones.

Nandita Das says, “ it’s not the actor’s fault who is endorsing a product on the idiot box. The evil is in our head”!


An achiever in academics and cultural activities, Richa Chadda a Stephenian accredited with an Honors degree in history. She commenced her career as a contestant in the Gladrags Megamodel 2008. Hopping off the modeling ramp , she strutted her way in to  the theatrical world. She did plays all over the Indian landscape and even across the borders in Pakistan. A Barry John student , she debuted her way into the tinseltown as ‘Bobby’ in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye! Her next role outshined all her future ones as Nagma Khatoon in Anurag Kashyap’s,  Gangs of Wasseypur . She timelined from a 16yr old girl to 60 yr old women. She’s a dedicated soul and a badass perfectionist. When all the designers she approached refused to dress her up, she pinged her BFFs and voila, the scarlet was ready to dazzle the Cannes film festival.

She prefers artistry roles over commercial ones. She knows her calling and nothing dithers her. Her movie conquered 2 prestigious awards at the Cannes Film Festival and they are the firsts from the Indian cahoots. She will be seen in upcoming pivotal roles in the biopic of Sarbjit Singh and Pooja Bhatt’s Cabaret. And the Dilli ki kudi is enchanting the material b-town with her acting skills.


“The virtue of being fair does not guarantee you fair treatment by the society”

The dauntless fair skinned Indian woman who has transcended through all the societal inhibitions has reserved her spot in Indian cinema . She was stamped as the white French girl. She had to witness colorism at an age when she didn’t even know how many colors exist in a rainbow.

“Indians are obsessed with fair skin, but even then brownie points were reserved for girls who were fair and ‘Indian’ looking,” Kalki says with a smile.”

Anurag Khasyap at first rejected her for her not so suitable “Firang” looks for her character in Dev D. But after watching her audition, he decided to reassess the character in light for Kalki and her teenage tramp character and her dainty looks received critical acclaims. An actor by day and a poetess by night, she has acted in over 12 movies and had her share of hits and misses. Her latest flick was “Margarita with a straw” which was the second most challenging role after “The girl in yellow boots.” She plays a teenager shuffling between her physical handicap and scuffling sexuality.

Alongwith the unconventional roles on the reel,  she has faced many in the real life as well. She spoke with conviction that she was sexually assaulted at a tender age of nine just so that she could reach out to all those who till date haven’t come out with such encounters, as it’s socially ruled out and hence instill confidence in kids to come forward to freely discuss about it and be protected against any potential abuse.

She has never thought of changing the way she looks, as once a person tries to change one part, there is always a chain reaction to fit other parts. Hence, a never ending process begins. She is an archetype of “there is more than what meets the eye”. She had to fight the prejudices of being white and the conjectures that string along with the white tag-“easy to flirt with; low- morals; and as an actress more party less work “. Kalki loves doing roles that render women in a strong light but need not be positive.

She is a feminist at heart and through the looking glass, counts women as humans commanding equal respect and stature. Koechlin feels that we tend to lose ourselves, when looking for approval outside ourselves. She is hard-nosed about the fact that women are still being treated as a commodity in the film industry. Just crediting the women before men isn’t gonna cut it but crediting them as equals with equal pay will !!

Ah! woman of quintessence!!


She is the realist rooted Iyer beauty who played the nerd in Hum Paanch.  Vidya’s  profession took flight after her debut Bengali movie Bhalo Theko(2003). The well versed actress in 5 different languages debuted in bollywood in Parineeta(2006). Soon you could notice the ‘ Silk Smitha’ enticing the nation with a range of box office hits. She had painted the town  red with her “Kahaani”.

Vidya is a versatile actress who has outnumbered the appreciation for her roles. Be it  for the strong-willed ‘Sabrina Lal’ or foxy ‘Krishna’ or the much critically celebrated ‘ Dr.Vidya’ , the mother of a Progeria inflicted kid . She is ubiquitous!!

She has brought curves back in vogue. Being in a fashion struck industry, she boldy flaunts her not so fashionable quotient. Upon being body shammed by a co-actor,  she retaliated with her lady-like etiquettes quietly.

YES! The Sabyasachi’s muse is in her 30s, and she is flirty and thriving!!


“Onscreen beauty is unreal”

The ultimate and unmatchable Bihari accent of Swara as Payal Sinha in Tanu weds Manu kick started her career in the glam world. A naval officers kid , she  before marching her way to Bollywood , was a former theater actress with “Act One” theatre group in Delhi. Though her debut flick  ‘ Madholal Keep walking’ was a miss on the box office , she  landed herself the dream role in a Hrithik Roshan starrer flick “Guzaarish” in 2010. The downside of flops didn’t deter her down and she was back with a bang with a series of critical and commercial hits namely Tannu weds Manu(2011), Listen Amaya, Ranjhanna and Tanu weds Manu Returns(2015).

At the panel discussion on career struggles and strategies for women, Swara impartially declared that women portrayed on screen are a mirage. No women look that perfect in person. She undeniably embraces the flawed beauty of natural women. One can lear from the recipient of best actress award at the silk route festival’15 onscreen in Ashwini Iyer Tiwari’s Nil Baatey Sannata.


“But yeah, I do get stereotyped. Everybody does ”

The deceiving Bengali looks of the not so conventional Marathi beaute, Radhika Apte has compelled her ‘oh so beautiful’ contemporaries to raise some eyebrows. Living the title of her debut film,  “Wah! Life ho toh Aisi”,  she is a regular in regional flicks and theater drama. The avant-garde actress has gone viral with Sujou Ghosh’s Ahalya(short film) sketch. The backbone for Manjhi, Radhika Apte has a many new projects lined up…Madly, Parched, Phobia, to name few.

Radhika doesn’t support objectification of women and avoids any roles that shadows women in the clichéd view of the society. Actresses shouldn’t be typecasted or discerned their appearance.

Beauty being subjective is controverting in itself and many philosophers have deliberated to prove the same.

“Beauty itself is but the sensible image of the infinite” – George Bancroft.



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