Ileana D'Cruz fans were excited upon learning that the actress is preparing to star in a film that deals with the Indian obsession for fair skin. They are curious about what seems like an interesting role for their favourite star, in line with several actresses who have been experimenting by going bald or gaining weight or donning minimal make-up to play relatable characters on the big screen.
Set in Haryana, the film titled Unfair & Lovely chronicles the story of a dusky girl who constantly has to fend against prejudices and biases that Indian society harbours against dark skin. Ileana plays the role of Lovely.
"Essaying Lovely is definitely going to be a very different and a unique experience for me and many people across all demographic would be able to relate to this character. What I love about the film is that its narrative isn't preachy. It's a funny story that will leave viewers smiling and laughing," Ileana had said recently.
While this film is yet to be completed, there have been other instances that have featured many actresses experimenting with non-glamorous avatars.
Bhumi Pednekar is one of them. In fact, she had started her film journey as an overweight bride in the romantic comedy Dum Laga Ke Haisha. She also went many shades darker in the film Bala, which discussed premature balding among men and the taboo associated with dark complexion in India.
Taapsee Pannu has also been hailed by many for not only her acting skills and choosing films with strong storylines, but also keeping her looks simple in films such as Pink, Mission Mangal and Thappad.
Kirti Kulhari, who had also featured in movies Mission Mangal and Pink, said that she has been doing "de-glam roles since forever".
"I have done a lot of non-glamorous roles. Except for Four More Shots Please!, I don't think I have played anything which is very 'glam glam'. I feel it is closer to reality. If you are playing a regular person then you have to look like that. You have to let go of all the glamour and I think that's the reason why it's becoming more and more popular now because in terms of our storytelling, we are shifting towards telling stories which are real. Also, realistically telling them. And I think that's what audiences are also highly accepting," the actress told IANS.
Shweta Tripathi Sharma is another actress who reminds people of someone they can relate to.
"When I choose a project or a character, I don't think if my role will be glamorous or de-lam, these are not my criterion. I am interested in what the character is doing. For instance, when I play Golu, I bring to life the character that my director and writer had imagined. I feel the character, the character is me, but the way the character has been shot, the background score, the music, interactions with other characters, hair, make-up... Golu has a scar and short hair. What excites me is to do the parts which are not only different from me, but are also different from each other," said the Masaan actress.
She wants to play with her on-screen look for a reason.
"I had learnt from (actor-screenwriter) Akarsh Khurana that if you look different, you will feel different. If you feel different, then half the battle is won. I just want to always look different. Looking beautiful is never my criteria, looking like the character, jaisa bhi dikhta ho (irrespective of how she looks), I want to look like that," she said.
"When I do a film like Gone Kesh, where my character has alopecia or Laakhon Mein Ek, I was excited. I was given dark circles," she added.
But she also acknowledges the challenge of being glamorous on screen.
"To look glamorous, it's very difficult. Hats off to all those actresses. I have respect for women who could do that because it is not easy," said Shweta.
Weighing in on the subject, actress Sanya Malhotra, who didn't sport a glam look in her debut film Dangal, a sports drama, feels that it is not just the responsibility of an actress to help redefine beauty in a country that has a set standard.
"It is not just our responsibility but I think also the writers and directors' responsibility to do that. I don't know if I'll call my characters de-glam, a relatable character is what I would go for. People are writing such scripts. They are writing a character which is relatable to the audience. If I apply a lot of make-up, who will relate to it? If a simple girl is seen wearing so much make-up? I don't approach my character on how it will look like," she said.
"Obviously, it's a part of my process when I am developing a character. But I think the credit majorly goes to the writers who are writing such relatable and unique characters that we can play now," added Sanya.
But she pointed out that she isn't against actresses who go all out with make-up.
"I am not going to 'thopo' (impose) my opinion on them and say, 'this is wrong, this is right'. I think we, as women, put a lot of pressure on women that we should look a certain way. I am glad that we are changing it through our movies. But if you want to do make-up then good, if not, then also it's good. It's your life and your call," shared Sanya, who enjoyed sporting heavy jewellery in Badhaai Ho.