There has been an awakening of sorts, all across the world, due to the outrage after a US-based colored civilian, George Floyd, was brutally killed by a police officer last month. Black Lives Matter movement against systemic racism exposed some fundamental flaws that we, as a society, choose to ignore. However, the effect of the outrage has also been felt across the seas in the Indian film industry where many celebrities have reacted against the post-colonial 'white supremacy' that continues to exist amongst us.
With that in mind, filmmaker Hansal Mehta has observed a 'definite color bias towards white skin' in the way all photography equipment has been designed. He took to Twitter and asked his followers to opine on his claim. He also pointed out that as a director, he has often had to struggle to give an 'international look' to actors with brown skin.
In a series of tweets, Hansal Mehta wrote, "Just a nagging thought. Bear with me. Have film stock, digital camera sensors, lenses and lighting equipment been designed for white skin? Given how brown skin reacts to these and how much we often struggle to make our films have that 'international look' I often wonder if.. cinematography equipment, laboratory processes, chemicals, digital coloring platforms are tested enough for colored skin. Maybe some wise women/men can answer or debate this question. I feel there is a definite color bias towards white skin."
As he received several responses from the budding filmmakers, he also retweeted a few that substantiate and/or clarify his 'nagging thought'. Some of them have shared links of international publications that explored the history of racial bias in photography.
Ideally most camera equipment is tested with respect to Grey card & color charts with 18% grey considered neutral shade, only in its readout can it be altered. But given the digital interventions available at this point, it’s very much possible to shift it towards our preference— Suyash (@sanimastudent) June 28, 2020
The veteran director has been active and vocal about different matters through his social media accounts and has recently weighed in on the ongoing debate on nepotism and lobbying in the film industry. Netizens have been lashing out at some of the big names of the film industry, most of them from 'film families', amid speculation of favoritism and 'campism' for star kids being responsible for late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput alleged ousting from numerous films.
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