Bollywood has always had a notorious reputation for peddling stereotypes. Classic stalker symptoms are visible through rose-tinted filters, while body shaming is occasional and endemic.
If we look at examples of fat-shaming in Bollywood, the examples reveal the utter disrespect with which we have treated men and women of a certain body type. Whether it’s using fat characters as comic relief or outright calling them “outsiders” to society, when do we start holding the industry accountable?
Not only has this behavior extended to on-screen representation, but such a toxic mentality finds its fulfillment off-screen as well. In 2016, the late actor Mr. Rishi Kapoor, known for his outspokenness, said DNA, “I couldn’t believe it when they recently gave Parineeti Chopra an award for losing weight. Can anyone give me an award for gaining weight?”
It was in reference to the Stardust Style Icon Award the actress received that year. Such statements not only take into account the plight of individuals and their journey with their bodies, but also propagate a culture of intolerance towards body confidence.
In our films too, such incidents are endless. A classic example would be Sweetu from Kal Ho Naa Ho. Thank goodness the film was released when such awareness did not reign over the viewing class. Sweetu is that stereotypical fat girl – unhappy in life, unlovable, and only there for comic relief.
However, if you think the 2000s were unfair to fat people, think again! Even in 2021, we face similar tropes and stereotypes. Here are some notable examples.
1. ‘Kabir Singh’
This movie has a lot of glaring flaws and fat shaming is definitely one of them. In one scene, Kabir says, “Big chicks are like teddy bears. They are sweet and loyal. Fat chicks and hot babes are a good combination. There are a lot of issues here to unpack and we’re not here for all of that.
Sallu bhai has been in a number of problematic films but Tsunami Singh’s character takes the cake. Named after a natural calamity, this character comes with its own special effects. People who meet him call him “fatso” and he obviously can’t take a running bus, because how do fat people run? We needed a pause button after this one.
Credit: YouTube/Reliance Entertainment
3. ‘Judwaa 2’
Another one of our best problematic films, this film works the trope that a fat policewoman can’t catch Varun Dhawan’s character because she must be unfit.
Credit: Giphy/Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment
This film by Nawazuddin Siddiqui contains many stereotypes for its audience. His character is prominently seen cringing under the weight of his wife to the extent that he actually leaves her. Upon her return, she was shown losing weight and becoming “beautiful” in her eyes. What in the world?
Where do we even start with this one? This Ajay Devgn-Sonali Bendre movie actually has a 5:48 min song dedicated to fat shaming. The lyrics will “ho nahi saktawith everyone making fun of a fat girl and shows her character asking her male friends to save her “izzat”. Watch it to believe it!
Credit: YouTube/Bollywood Classics
Main image credit: T-Series + Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment