Hello lovelies, another week passes by in Bollywood and a film’s trailer becomes a topic of discussion. And this time, it has opened up quite a ‘healthy’ discussion. Sorry, no puns, please. We are talking about the film ‘Fanney Khan‘, which is taking on the issue of fat shaming and body positivity. The two-minute long trailer shows a plus-size woman who dreams of becoming a singer and is supported by her father, played by Anil Kapoor. The father aspired to be a singer too, in his youth, but it isn’t explained why he was unable to fulfil his dreams. The girl is fat-shamed every time she steps on stage to perform. The father decides to kidnap the country’s leading singer Baby, played by the stunning Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
Ironically, when Aishwarya Rai Bachchan had her daughter, she had put on weight and was fat-shamed by several people, the audiences and the media alike. Aishwarya, who had always been the blue-eyed girl of Indians since her Miss World days, found herself at the centre of fat-shaming jokes and memes which went viral on the Internet. Aishwarya’s beauty was forgotten and people made fun of her weight gain not knowing how it is completely normal to put on weight during and after pregnancy.
It is almost as if the world refuses to accept plus-size people, be it on screen or in real life. Fanney Khan has opened conversations on accepting plus-size people who, most of the time, put on weight due to an underlying medical condition and not due to stuffing their faces while sitting on a couch and watching Shark Tank. The movie trailer has touched a nerve, showcasing how plus-sized people are shamed continuously be it in pop-culture or the media.
While watching old re-runs of Friends, one of the most loved sitcoms of our times, Monica Geller played by Courteney Cox struggles with weight and body image issues in her youth. Her heart is no longer in trouble, the moment she sheds weight and acquires a svelte figure. The show was toxic in more ways than one, but that is a debate for another time.
The next person to be shamed online was Radhika Apte who bagged yet another Netflix Original series, which makes it her third back-to-back show. She was shamed for being too dark and shockingly also for the platform’s affinity towards her. Apte, who has proved her worth umpteen times, became the victim of crude and vile memes attacking her dusky skin.
While India’s obsession with fair skin is increasing by the minute, it is nauseating to see celebs being attacked for their unconventional body-types. Such actors are soft targets of nasty online trolling. ‘Veere Di Wedding’, a film which was supposed to be the Indian woman’s Hangover, tried to encapsulate a plus-sized woman, Shikha Talsania in mainstream films. However, the message of accepting plus-size women was too watered down and glossed out. The film was an out and out masala entertainer and did little to contribute to the topic of body-positivity.
We spoke to eminent plus-size blogger Amena Azeez, who is spearheading the body-positivity movement in India. She opines, “If Fanney Khan can open up a dialogue about how incredibly hard it is for plus-size women to make it in the Indian entertainment industry because of its blatant fatphobia and fat-shaming, the film will be a major win for the body positive movement in India. The Indian entertainment industry desperately needs plus-size heroes and heroines who can send a message that one doesn’t need to be thin for their talent to shine. I am hoping Fanney Khan achieves this.”
Well, we can’t help but agree with Amena, that the Indian entertainment industry does need to be a little sensitive and accepting towards plus-size people. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, plus-sized people always got the roles of comedians in films or that of the side-kick of the male or the female lead. Guddi Maruti, one of the prominent faces of mainstream Indian cinema, was not allowed to lose weight during her acting career as her ‘weight’ got her roles in some of the hit films. Popular actors and actresses who have now turned ‘woke’ used to make fat-shaming jokes, refer to their sidekicks as ‘mota’ or ‘moti’ amidst titters. Saand or genda were popular put-downs in the ’90s.
Fat-shaming extends to the men in the industry too. Fardeen Khan, a total drool-worthy hunk of the early 2000s, has been battling certain ailments due to which he put on weight. No sooner did his pictures reach the world wide web than he also becomes the butt of all jokes.
However, we can safely say that the world has turned ‘woke’ enough to be aware of fatphobic statements and references in pop-culture. Lakme Fashion Week recently held auditions in the city for plus-size models. We can see marginally more representation of plus-size actors and models in the glamour world, but it is still a problematic area which needs to be addressed.
Moving slightly away from the topic, we can’t help, but laud Sonali Bendre who decided to take cancer in her stride and flaunt a new, chic hairdo. The Sarfarosh actress, who revealed that she was diagnosed with high-grade cancer, wants to live life on her terms and keep a smiling face throughout her cancer treatment in New York. Way to go, girl!
Also, if feminism is your buzzword, I heavily recommend a new show on Amazon Prime – Dietland. This show is like Fight Club for women. It stars Joy Nash and Julianna Marguiles of The Good Wife fame. It takes on fat-shaming, sexual crimes and domestic violence, head on and in the most radical way ever seen on television. I know it seems like a shameless plug, but it really isn’t!
PS – I have no idea what Taimur and his nanny are up to this week. So long…