Her charm and appeal is hitherto undisputed. Even though she played a pudgy second fiddle (or is it third?) to Anuskha Sharma and Ranveer Singh in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl three years ago, Parineeti Chopra had won the nation over with her cutesy act. But her latest outing Kill/Dil, also a venture by the venerated film studio Yash Raj, does miserably at pushing her to be a full-size heroine.
Chopra is a tall and well-built woman who claims she has struggled with her weight all through her growing-up years. She would eat a whole pizza in one meal, she said in an interview, but in a manner that indicated that she isn’t that person anymore. Thank god. But one hopes she is still struggling to shed some more.
There is nothing feminist about a woman — a young woman who is at the top of her career and a national icon — to make you believe that being overweight is okay. It certainly is not. You may be an actor or a model or anyone who is in the business of looking good, but nonetheless. Even if you are in a career that demands a lab coat or a black cape, fitness is not a lifestyle choice anymore. India’s love for milk and honey — or ghee and makhan — has long aligned its affections for yoga and Zumba, cycling, speed-walking, gymming or anything that can keep you trim. Cardio diseases, diabetes, hypertension and, in newer research, even the spread of cancer, are all friends of the adipose.
Chopra isn’t alone in accepting herself as she is. She is joined by Sonakshi Sinha who recently said she saves her favourite finger for the fashion police and those concerned by her weight. Her gall isn’t unjustified, Twitter trolls have called her “fat cow” and stated her forehead is the size of a national highway. Give it back, girl! But do accept that while size-zero isn’t expected from you, a slimmer frame certainly is, especially when you want to wear Gauri-Nainika’s strapless gowns.
Please see Vidya Balan as an example. She amazed us with her jiggles-wiggles in The Dirty Picture where she played the part of a voluptuous wannabe actor, or a full-term pregnant woman in Kahaani, but her post-shaadi real-life matronliness finds no takers. Or Aishwarya Rai, who piled them on during her pregnancy and maternity break saying she “enjoyed her food”. But she’s brought sexy and her career back with her new svelteness.
Apologies for the political incorrectness to follow: but actors who push their large frames on their fans are in the danger of pushing their fame away instead. Celebrity is an unforgiving business, it demands you earn your every moment here.
It isn’t just the women who are subjected to the rule, even almost-50s like Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Akshay Kumar, Ajay Devgn and Aamir Khan have to push their bodies to gym-sculpted perfection to stay in the business. Those who don’t — like the younger and far more talented Abhishek Bachchan and Saif Ali Khan — will never have the blockbusters without the bodies.
Slimness is a sign of good health, not crash diet-induced vanity. The new woman of India is gifting herself the me-time of a gym or a morning walk, there’s more to her than her roles of a mother/ wife/ daughter-in-law/ cook/ driver.
“Plus-size” and “real women” are largely American coinages, adapted for a country that struggles with junk food and obesity. The new Indian woman is much smarter than that.