Amrita Prasad
Saturday, 16 March 2019

The festival of colours is almost here and soon you will be immersing yourself in the celebrations. But before you throw gulal, Amrita Prasad asks you to see the world in a different light — with more colours, more oneness and more positivity

Colours play an important role in our lives or else Oscar Wilde would not have said, ‘Mere colour... can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways’. There is a reason why we feel attracted to a particular colour and often, they do influence our choices. Some colours make us happy, some sad; some make us calm, some angry. Colours also unite and divide us. That said, colours will continue to be an integral part of our lives, and we do acknowledge and appreciate their presence. However, it’s not necessary to see colours the same way as everyone else does. You could have a ‘rainbow vision’ of things. With the festival of colours approaching, we ask people if they had the power to re-imagine the world and see it differently, what changes would they make for certain popular and iconic objects like the costume of their favourite superhero/ fictional character, the stripes of a zebra crossing, the ‘vardi’ of police officers or Facebook’s logo. Some of the conversations are humorous, and some actually make you picture the rainbow! 

Clothes maketh the man, but what if you are a superhero? All the superheroes — Superman, Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, Iron Man, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, Black Panther and others have iconic costumes that define who they are, their ideologies and the power they possess. For example, it took Superman more than eight decades to bring some changes to his outfit, and by changes, we mean subtle ones like Kal-El (Superboy, the preteen and teenage years of Superman) does let go of the iconic red underwear! However, even today, we continue to associate him with the signature colours — blue and red. 

When we asked a superhero movie fan who grew up reading superhero comics, if he were to re-imagine his favourite superhero in a new costume/ colours, he came up with some interesting ideas.  

Zaid Ahmed, 29, Kolkata-based content manager, feels that Black Panther  (the film, which was a roaring success and even bagged a few Oscar awards) should wear all white instead of black. “I would make Black Panther’s costume all white. So the moment he arrives to catch the bad guys everyone gets confused whether it’s actually Black Panther or his albino twin brother Erik Killmonger who is a villain, and in that confusion he catches the bad guys. I also feel white is different as everyone wears dark shaded costumes,” he shares.  

However, Ahmed thinks Batman needs to wear black. “Batman wears black for practical reasons — he operates at night in the shadows, so a dark costume works for him, and he needs all the advantages, since he’s just an ordinary person. So it’s hard to change his colour. Superman wears red and blue since he is a personification of American ideals, so it’s easier to change his colour. But the problem is that they already did that in the comics with Superman Red and Superman Blue. Hence I would like to change Spider-Man’s costume colour and make him wear all yellow to differentiate him from Superman,” says Ahmed. He feels that the vibrant shade of yellow will symbolise his sunny personality. “Spider-Man is a snarky guy, so yellow suits him because it’s a bright and joyful colour. It goes well with his funny and jovial nature. I am not saying this because I love yellow (I just have one yellow t-shirt!), but simply because the hue will complement him well and maybe confuse his enemies — because of the bright colour if he’s crime fighting in broad daylight!” chuckles Ahmed.  

While many refrained from ‘changing’ the colours of the costumes of their favourite superheroes, many felt that Severus Snape’s black outfit — the coldly sarcastic potion masters in Harry Potter series — needs an instant makeover. One of the bravest and kindest wizards, Professor Snape was one of the most misunderstood and hated guys, also because of his appearance. Snape, who was a double agent and protected Harry till his last breath and loved his mother deeply, has been described as a thin, pale man with sallow, oily skin, greasy shoulder-length black hair which hangs in curtains around his face. He has black eyes that are most often cold and sometimes glittery, and a very large hooked nose. He wears black during the day and a grey nightshirt after sundown. 

“Black is often considered evil and dark and it is because of his black flowy robe, which was quite similar to that of Voldemort (the Dark Lord), that made people think he was evil and heartless. But in reality, he was kind, loved Harry and was faithful to Dumbledore. Since we cannot change his scarred childhood and lonely adulthood, we can add some colour to his wardrobe and I think a shade of green would be perfect as it symbolises hope, newness, harmony and freshness, and is also the colour of nature. Since young Lily (Harry’s mother) and Snape spent a substantial amount of their time amidst nature, trying their magic tricks with flowers and lying down on the grass having long conversations, green is the colour that suits him best. It is also the colour of Slytherin, the house he is the master of,” says Deepa Dutt, a Delhi-based psychologist, who grew up reading Harry Potter. 

She adds that green would add a new lease of life and perhaps add some joy to his otherwise mundane life. “After all, a man who had such deep love and was on a mission to save the wizarding world by risking his life needs to be embraced, accepted and loved, and I think a green palette will help. Plus, it looks good too!” insists Dutt.

How often have you been annoyed when you try to walk on the zebra crossing but you can’t simply because the cars won’t stop despite the traffic lights going red. Trust me, you are not alone. We face this on a day-to-basis. Despite traffic laws becoming strict, a few four-wheeler and two-wheeler drivers refuse to abide by the law. 

Now imagine this: If a zebra crossing would be painted in fun colours other than the usual black and white stripes, would it encourage vehicle drivers to stop and pedestrians to use the crosswalk? Perhaps yes. The otherwise mundane crosswalk, which would suddenly become vibrant and lively, would  help citizens to obey traffic laws and also bring down accident rates.  

Priyanka Paul, Mumbai-based illustrator, says that she would love to change the colours of the pedestrian crossing to neon pink and white. Says she, “The combination of neon pink and white looks spunky and uber cool and when used together, draws attention. More than aesthetics, it is also utilitarian. When a zebra crossing is painted in lively colours, there’s no way you can miss it. It will also motivate more pedestrians to use it, and will also make cars stop. Also, the lively colours in contrast to the usual black and white will uplift your mood when you are driving or stuck at the traffic signal.” 

The 20-year-old artist closely connects with the colour pink and uses this bright shade in her artwork too. “Pink has always been a colour that makes me happy and I define myself with it. Pink can be anything  — it can be sad or exciting, hence it makes a perfect choice to replace the black lines at the zebra crossings across the world. Many associate pink with ‘femininity’ and we are told all our lives that pink is a girly colour, but if it is considered girly, I think it is also positive, attractive and powerful,” avers  Paul. 

Khaki is not just a colour or a word. It symbolises power, authority and responsibilities of cops in India, who wear the khaki uniform. Also, Bollywood films like Dabangg, Singham, Simmba and others have popularised the ‘vardi’. But say if you want our cops to sport another uniform, what would it be? 

Swapnil Kumawat, city-based commercial artist, writer and filmmaker, says that he would take inspiration from his favourite superhero Batman’s costume to reimagine the ‘vardi’. “Batman comes out in the dark and that too in the darkest world of Gotham. His battle is against the worst of the criminals. So black represents him the best. The mask makes him more anonymous for his targets. A lot of thought has been given to his costume design, so I would not want to change that. Instead I would love to have some of these concepts to inspire the uniforms of our police force. That said, the existing uniform is also designed perfectly well and that’s why we have been following khaki colour since the time of the British. But now when we are becoming a smart nation, we need to seriously think about updating our police department. We can think of introducing smart uniforms and black looks tough, and can have an alternative grey with a tough material, as an option for multiple reasons like durability, weather conditions with extra pockets for safety equipment, perfectly customised props like jackets, caps, gloves and other gears. A serious thought on this can really make the change and we, as citizens of the country, would love to see our police department looking more up-to-date!,” says Kumawat. So how about voting for ‘Men in black’?  

Three years ago, when Instagram changed its logo from a plain blue polaroid icon to a colourful rainbow, it sent out a very strong message that it has a ‘vibrant and diverse’ community of users. While some didn’t appreciate the change, many loved the refreshing look and colour. Many even wondered if, just like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which have blue logos, could also have some cool colours. 

Subham Singh, student, feels that although Facebook is blue because Mark Zuckerberg has colour blindness and the colour he can see best is blue, he can still get the logo and appearance changed with the help of his team. “It would be fantastic if Facebook would have the colours of the rainbow, and no, here I’m not talking about just the pride community. Rainbow is such a beautiful amalgamation of colours, a melange of hues that can be a symbol of the diverse world we live in. The different races, ethnicities, colours, cultures, languages etc can be summed up beautifully by using colours of the rainbow, and Facebook does connect the entire world. Rainbow, obviously, talks about inclusivity of all genders and people with different sexual orientations. More than that, I feel it will signify oneness,” says Singh.

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