Targeted for casting Bhumi Pednekar in a role for which she needed to have a darker skin tone, Bala director Amar Kaushik says not experimenting with the look of a character will confine an actor only to a "particular kind of role".
Describing Bhumi as "superb" for the part of a lawyer comfortable in her skin, he said his team initially thought about approaching an actor with a dark complexion but that didn't materialize.
"There was an initial thought about casting a dark skinned actor. I can't say who we approached as this is not right to say. During the audition, you get to know whether an actor suits the part or not. The actor should look convincing. I felt Bhumi was superb for this character," Kaushik told PTI in an interview.
Starring Ayushmann Khurrana in the title role, Bala revolves around a young man with a receding hairline. The film was praised for its message of self-love but was also criticized for painting a fair Bhumi many shades darker, something which many viewers said they found distracting.
Questioning the audience's "double standards", the director said it was interesting how people didn't have a problem with the hero going bald for the role.
"I felt Bhumi was fit to play Latika. But we had to do something about the colour. We did some tests on her (to get the dark skin colour). If the hero is going bald or anything, there isn't an issue but when a female actor does (something), it is asked why this is done. For me, it was important how she is as a performer," he said.
Kaushik said experimenting with looks is a part of an actor's job. If not, they will get stereotyped.
"We had thought people might say something or react in a certain way due to the color thing," he said, adding that physical transformation, whether putting on weight or changing skin tone, is part of the job.
"Otherwise an actor will not be able to do anything... Then, it will be about an actor being suitable only for a particular kind of a role," he said.
Bala was mired in another controversy over comparisons with Ujda Chaman, which starred Sunny Singh in a similar role of a man struggling with premature baldness.
Both film hit the screens within a week of each other with questions being raised on who copied the idea from whom.
In the climax, Ayushmann's Bala comes to terms with his looks and regains confidence.
The director said the problem with the character was about not loving himself.
"It was not about not getting the woman or getting married. He was not in love with himself. He was assuming girls would not like him and he would not get married but that was insecurity that made him think all this," Kaushik said.
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