There’s no such thing as a perfect body, believes Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha who has lived for most of her adult life and teenage years being mocked for her weight and waistline.
“We live in a society where we can be ridiculed not just for your body, but everything” said Sinha in a phone interview with Gulf News.
The daughter of legendary actors Shatrughan Sinha and Poonam Sinha claims she was always that girl who was asked to dance at the last row because she didn’t look a ‘certain way’.
“Whether you are fair, dark, tall, short, thin or very thin, you are likely to get body-shamed. Even very thin people get body shamed and that’s incredibly sad,” she added.
Plus, social media trolling and the unfiltered remarks that are posted without any accountability hasn’t helped either.
“Social media has played a huge role in a person being shamed where people think they can say anything to anyone on a public platform. Our new film ‘Double XL’ will hopefully remind those faceless strangers to be nice and kind towards people who don’t conform to the usual beauty and body standards. We don’t even know who set those impossible standards anyway,” said Sinha.
‘Double XL’, out in UAE cinemas now, is her new comedy with actress and friend Huma Qureshi, who has also co-produced a film for the first time in her career.
“It’s a very personal film for both of us … We want to remind everyone that women are body-shamed relentlessly and slammed for many things, but that shouldn’t stop you from chasing your dreams. Don’t let anyone pull you back,” said Sinha. Both Qureshi and Sinha have always challenged the stereotypes attached to the perfect Bollywood heroine material. They aren’t wafer-thin and have always advocated for body positivity.
“It’s a story of fierce plus-size girls and I know many people, irrespective of their gender, will be able to relate to our film,” said Sinha.
Sinha, who made a spectacular Bollywood debut with Salman Khan as the village belle in the all-time blockbuster ‘Dabangg’, reveals an interesting statistic about her career graph.
“I had some of my biggest hits when I was my most voluptuous and heaviest weight… I can be as beautiful evin while weighing 75 kilos or as low as 60 kilos. So who’s to say what works at what weight? When I have lost weight, I have always done it on my own terms and conditions because I wanted to do it. I have always believed in living life on my own terms,” said Sinha.
But there’s one thing that has always irked her. In interviews and profiles, she’s always described as that actress who lost over 30 kilos before making her acting debut. Her acting skills and her sunny personality are rarely the focal points.
“People are still talking about my 30-kilo weight loss in particular. It’s the opening conversation for any interview … But I have been here for 10-12 years and have been constantly working, so I think it’s time people to let go of that! In fact, I have always wanted to be a role model for all those young people who are body shamed … When I was growing up, I had nobody to tell me that everything was going to be OK and that size/weight doesn’t matter,” said Sinha. Interestingly, Sinha was overweight by traditional height-weight standards in her teenage years, but she was very sporty and athletic indicating that she was never unhealthy or ill.
“Am not promoting obesity or telling you that you shouldn’t work out, but remember there are many people who are overweight for medical reasons … When I was growing up I played sport really well and I was active … And some people may not lose weight easily. Sometimes they get made fun of for no fault of theirs … All I have to say is that you need to accept and learn to love yourself in whatever form or shape you are in,” said Sinha.
Ironically, the idea of ‘Double XL’ revolving around two plus-size women finding their self-worth in everything else but their looks began with a sumptuous slice of cake. Both Qureshi and Sinha are thick friends who were lounging around in the former’s living room and lamenting about all the extra weight they were carrying after the COVID-19 lockdown. Qureshi’s actor-producer brother Saqib and their mutual friend Zaheer Iqbal were in the same room hearing the young women talk extensively about setting things right by eating clean and getting on track.
“But as we were saying it, we saw a slice of cake in front of us and both of us happily ate it without a guilt in the world and that’s when Saqib said that people would watch a movie about us who are so comfortable in our skins,” said Sinha with a laugh. And since all great ideas in the world may involve a delicious slice of cake, Qureshi jumped on the idea of working together.
“So first we were cast in the film and then we got the script in our hands,” said Sinha with a laugh.
‘Double XL’ is also pegged as a film that explores the theme of sisterhood and solidarity among women. Bollywood is notorious for rolling out star-crossed romances or buddy films around men mostly.
“People seldom talk about friendships among females on the big screen … In a recent interview, someone just told Huma and I that women are often each other’s worst enemies and we pounced on him for saying those words. When a guy fights with a guy on the big screen, he’s called macho, but when women argue it’s catty … This image of women fighting with each other is so outdated and wrong,” said Sinha.
‘Double XL’ is a celebration of sisterhood and friendship among two like-minded women who are deemed society misfits.
Asked if she had ever embarked on getting that revenge body after a nasty break-up, Sinha was painfully honest.
“No man is ever worth giving up food … I have my priorities right,” said Sinha. She’s also equally fierce when producers or directors ask her subtly to lose weight to fit a role better.
“Losing three or four kilos is not going to make a difference to that character, I remind them. They should want me for what I bring to the table! I refuse to take any such pressure,” said Sinha.
And acting in a film like ‘Double XL’ was cathartic, says Sinha. Playing a part in this film reminded her of her college days where she was sidelined for being overweight.
“I was studying fashion designing in an environment where people give a lot of importance to how you look … My weight was not optimal to the fashion industry standards … I remember at an annual fashion show, I wanted to walk the ramp but I was always asked to fix the lights or be in charge of music. I was too big, they said, and such remarks stay with you for life. And while playing this part in ‘Double XL’, it came back and helped me play the character better,” said Sinha.
If she had her way, she wants to remind every impressionable young woman — who are bombarded with air-brushed images of celebrities on a daily basis — to be confident in their own skin.
“I want to be that role model who tells women everywhere to own their bodies, no matter what their size,” said Sinha.
Don’t miss it!
‘Double XL’ is out in UAE cinemas now.
Did you know?
*Sonakshi Sinha has turned into a celebrity beauty entrepreneur with her own line of nail polishes.
“I have been meaning to do it for years and it’s finally happened,” said Sinha.
*Sonakshi Sinha has several projects in the pipeline including a series with Reema Kagti that will stream on Amazon Prime Video in December and a horror comedy in January, next year.