Black skin, white masks: Izzat as an appropriation of Othello | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Indian Othellos: Shakespeare Adaptations in India
  • ISSN: 2059-0660
  • E-ISSN: 2059-0679

Abstract

Izzat was the first mainstream Hindi film to reference and has so far escaped the attention of academics who have begun researching the underexplored field of Bollywood Shakespeares. The film stars Dharmendra playing both versions of a fair- and a dark-skinned twin, which is a novel take on a Shakespearean trope. As a mainstream film, does not aspire to the pedagogical cultural capital of Shakespeare that does, nor does it reference the performance traditions of onstage or film. However, references to that seem superficial at first glance are embedded throughout the film. The only direct reference to the play is when Deepa meets Shekhar (who is pretending to be his twin Dilip) for the first time, and he sees she has been reading This sparks off a conversation about appearances and colour prejudices that is quite alien to an industry that traditionally favours light-skinned protagonists but rarely acknowledges it. Through this article, I would like to explore the ways in which Shakespearean tropes, and in particular Shakespeare’s , has been used to explore postcolonial anxieties about identity in India by juxtaposing Adivasi identities with more typical urban Indian identities. The film also suggests that the colonizers have been replaced in Indian society by the urban elite who value superficial white masks and practise a racism that is much more insidious by discriminating against other Indians based on colour, caste and class. Through this exploration, I will also examine how impacts the Indian psyche and why the referencing of in this film points towards the many ways in which is adapted and appropriated in Indian mainstream media.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1386/itj_00014_1
2021-08-01
2024-04-14
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

References

  1. Anon. ( 2019;), ‘ Bollywood has an offensive history of using blackface and it’s still doing it. ’, Scroll, 5 November, https://scroll.in/reel/942547/bollywood-has-an-offensive-history-of-using-blackface-and-its-still-doing-it. Accessed 2 April 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Balram, Dhruva. ( 2018;), ‘ Anti-blackness in South Asian communities: How do we break the cycle?. ’, Media Diversified, 14 December, https://mediadiversified.org/2018/12/14/anti-blackness-in-south-asian-communities-how-do-we-break-the-cycle/. Accessed 2 April 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Balram, Dhruva. ( 2019;), ‘ Blackface and anti-blackness in Bollywood: An endemic problem. ’, Media Diversified, 13 January, https://mediadiversified.org/2019/01/13/blackface-and-anti-blackness-in-bollywood-an-endemic-problem/. Accessed 2 April 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Banerji, Rangana. ( 2012;), ‘ “Every college student knows by heart”: The uses of Shakespeare in colonial Bengal. ’, in T. Bishop,, A. C. Y. Huang,, G. Bradshaw, and S. Chaudhuri. (eds), The Shakespearean International Yearbook: Vol. 12: Special Section, Shakespeare in India, Ashgate:: Routledge;, pp. 2942.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bauman, Chad M.. ( 2010;), ‘ Identity, conversion, and violence: Dalits, Adivasis, and the 2007–08 riots in Orissa. ’, in R. Robinson, and J. M. Kujur. (eds), Margins of Faith: Dalit and Tribal Christianity in India, Los Angeles, CA:: Sage;, pp. 26390.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Bhatia, Gautam. ( 2013;), ‘ The dark side of fairness: As India shifts towards greater equality, old prejudices about skin colour persist. ’, Mail Online India, 6 March, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2288675/The-dark-fairness-As-India-shifts-greater-equality-old-prejudices-skin-colour-persist.html. Accessed 14 February 2015.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Callaghan, Dympna. ( 1996;), ‘ “Othello was a White man”: Properties of race on Shakespeare’s stage. ’, in T. Hawkes. (ed.), Alternative Shakespeares, vol. 2, London:: Routledge;, pp. 192215.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Camper, Petrus. ( 1794), The Works of the Late Professor Camper, on the Connexion between the Science of Anatomy, and the Art of Drawing, Painting, Statuary, &c., &c, London:: Printed for C. Dilly;.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Cartelli, Thomas, and Rowe, Katherine. ( 2007), New Wave Shakespeare on Screen, Cambridge and Maiden, MA:: Polity;.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Chakravarti, Paromita. ( 2003;), ‘ Modernity, postcoloniality and Othello: The case of Saptapadi. ’, in P. Aebischer,, E. Esche, and N. Wheale. (eds), Remaking Shakespeare: Performance across Media, Genres, and Cultures, New York:: Palgrave Macmillan;, pp. 3956.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Chatterjee, Sudipto, and Singh, Jyotsna G.. ( 2013;), ‘ Moor or less? The surveillance of Othello, Calcutta 1848. ’, in C. Desmet, and R. Sawyer. (eds), Shakespeare and Appropriation, London:: Pluto;, pp. 6584.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Desai, Sonalde, and Kulkarni, Veena. ( 2008;), ‘ Changing educational inequalities in India in the context of affirmative action. ’, Demography, 45:2, pp. 24570.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Durairaj, Lydia. ( 2015;), ‘ Colour prejudice has deeper meanings and unwarranted consequences. ’, Weekend Leader, 26 April, http://www.theweekendleader.com/Causes/1098/be-yourself.html. Accessed 23 February 2015.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Fanon, Frantz. ( 2008), Black Skin, White Masks, New York:: Grove Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Fletcher, John. ( 1966–96;), ‘ The Island Princess. ’ in The Dramatic Works in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon, vol. 5 (ed. F. Bowers.), 10 vols , Cambridge:: Cambridge University Press;, pp. 539642.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Hogan, Lalita P.. ( 2010;), ‘ The sacred and the profane in Omkara: Vishal Bhardwaj’s Hindi adaptation of Othello. ’, Image & Narrative, 11:2, pp. 4962.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Hunter, George K.. ( 1967), Othello and Colour Prejudice, London:: Oxford University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Jain, T. R.. ( 2013), Indian Economy, New Delhi:: FK Publications;.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Johnson, Sonali E.. ( 2002;), ‘ The pot calling the kettle black? Gender-specific health dimensions of colour prejudice in India. ’, Journal of Health Management, 4:2, pp. 21527.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Kendal, Geoffrey, and Colvin, Clare. ( 1986), The Shakespeare Wallah: The Autobiography of Geoffrey Kendal, London:: Sidgwick & Jackson;.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Kulkarni, Damini., ( 2016;), ‘ In the movies, fair equals lovely while dark equals backward, villainous, savage (take your pick). ’, Scroll, 22 October, https://scroll.in/reel/819289/in-the-movies-fair-equals-lovely-while-dark-equals-backward-villainous-savage-take-your-pick. Accessed 2 April 2020.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Loomba, Ania. ( 1989), Gender, Race, Renaissance Drama, Manchester:: Manchester University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Loomba, Ania. ( 1997;), ‘ Shakespearean transformations. ’, in J. J. Joughin. (ed.), Shakespeare and National Culture, Manchester:: Manchester University Press;, pp. 10941.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Macaulay, Thomas B.. ( 2003;), ‘ Minute on Indian education. ’, Archives of Empire, 1, pp. 22738.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Metcalf, Thomas R.. ( 1997), Ideologies of the Raj, New York:: Cambridge University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Nayar, Pramod K.. ( 2013), Frantz Fanon, New York:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Neill, Michael. ( 1998;), ‘ “Mulattos”, “blacks”, and “Indian moors”: Othello and early modern constructions of human difference. ’, Shakespeare Quarterly, 49:4, pp. 36174.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Pattanaik, Devdutt.. ( 2009;), ‘ Black gods and white gods; Indian mythology. ’, Devdutt, 22 July, https://devdutt.com/articles/black-gods-and-white-gods/. Accessed 25 January 2019.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Prakash Rao, Tatineni. ( 1968), Izzat, India:: Pushpa Pictures;.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Raha, Kironmoy. ( 1978), Bengali Theatre, New Delhi:: National Book Trust;.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Robb, Peter. ( 1995), The Concept of Race in South Asia, New Delhi:: Oxford University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Shakespeare, William. ( 1997), Othello (ed. E. A. J. Honigmann.), London:: Thomson Learning;.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Sharda, Saksham. ( 2017;), ‘ Black skin, black castes: Overcoming a fidelity discourse in Bhardwaj’s Omkara. ’, Shakespeare Bulletin, 35:4, pp. 599626.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Singh, Jyotsna. ( 1996;), ‘ Shakespeare and the “civilizing mission”. ’, in J. Singh., Colonial Narratives/Cultural Dialogues: ‘Discoveries’ of India in the Language of Colonialism, New York:: Routledge;, pp. 12355.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Sutton, Hedley, and Waddel, Karen. ( 2016;), ‘ Shakespeare in India. ’, Untold Lives Blog, 24 May, http://blogs.bl.uk/untoldlives/2016/05/shakespeare-in-india.html. Accessed 1 May 2017.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Trivedi, Harish. ( 1995;), ‘ Shakespeare in India: Colonial contexts. ’, in Colonial Transactions: English Literature and India, Manchester and New York:: Manchester University Press;, pp. 1028.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Upadhya, Carol. ( 2000;), ‘ The Hindu nationalist sociology of G. S. Ghurye. ’, National Workshop on Knowledge, Institutions, Practices: The Formation of Indian Anthropology and Sociology, New Delhi, 19–21 April, http://www.unipune.ac.in/snc/cssh/HistorySociology/A%20DOCUMENTS%20ON%20HISTORY%20OF%20SOCIOLOGY%20IN%20INDIA/A%203%20IEG%20Workshop%20papers%202000/A%203%2005.pdf. Accessed 7 March 2015.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Viswanathan, Gauri. ( 2014), Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India, New York:: Columbia University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. White, David G.. ( 2000), Tantra in Practice, 8 vols, Princeton, NJ:: Princeton University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Wolf, Naomi. ( 1991), The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women, London:: Random House;.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. Zastoupil, Lynn, and Moir, Martin. ( 1999), The Great Indian Education Debate: Documents Relating to the Orientalist-Anglicist Controversy, 1781–1843, London:: Psychology Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Chatterjee, Koel. ( 2021;), ‘ Black skin, white masks: Izzat as an appropriation of Othello. ’, Indian Theatre Journal, 5:1, pp. 2941, https://doi.org/10.1386/itj_00014_1
    [Google Scholar]
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1386/itj_00014_1
Loading
  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): blackface; India; Othello; postcolonial; race; Shakespeare
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error