By Sonya Rehman
Released this year, the Yash Raj production, Dum Laga Ke Haisha, is a Bollywood movie that truly breaks the size zero stereotype. Revolving around the protagonist, Sandhya, a voluptuous young woman, the movie encourages self-belief in an insecure world hungry for physical perfection.
While we have read about and spoken of the size zero debacle for yonks, especially in regard to the global fashion industry, it is encouraging to note how films have begun promoting female emancipation in the form of fiercely independent and confident lead female characters. Isn’t it incredible?
Women the world over struggle with body image issues and sometimes these insecurities manifest into devastating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorders and more.
Apart from weight anxieties, women in our part of the world also struggle with the self-belief to go against the grain – despite the odds – and take a stand for themselves. But remember the gloriously sweet flick, Queen? The movie served in giving women – in patriarchal societies – the courage to think for themselves, and the mettle to do what’s right for themselves and themselves alone. As a film, Queen’s story worked exceedingly well as it gently supported coming into your own after a heartbreak and to not think of a break-up as a personal failure. More than the film’s execution, the storyline is what made Queen a right-royal success at the box office.
But coming back to body image: in Bollywood, actors such as Huma Qureshi, Sonakshi Sinha, Parineeti Chopra, Vidya Balan, and Bhumi Pednekar are great role models for women struggling with weight issues and self-acceptance. These actors have stood their ground: not giving in to peer and societal pressure to whittle themselves down to further encourage the emaciated, size zero look – so popular in the world of fashion, unfortunately.
A film like Dum Laga Ke Haisha stands as a fantastic step in the direction of inspiring young girls and women to be happy in their own skin.
Perhaps other filmmakers in Bollywood need to take a page out of the production’s book and make films that not only embolden women, but also change the narrative (the beautiful girl who lands prince charming) on-screen.
Whoever said looking a certain way meant a life of bliss? By the same token, who said having a partner ensures life-long contentment? The sweeping statements and narratives need to be done away with. They need to be stopped. New, fresh narratives are needed today – more than ever. Once depicted on reel, these healthy narratives will manifest themselves in real life: creating women with happier, more realistic outlooks on life, love and their relationship with the scale!