‘I’m not a rebel, I’m real’: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on battling body-shaming with inner positivity
m not a rebel, I’m real’: Aishwarya Rai Bachchan on battling body-shaming with inner positivity – Aishwarya Rai Bachchan has led life on her own terms. Whether it was tying the knot while doing a film, taking a long maternity break to tend to her daughter Aaradhya or choosing films judiciously, so that they don’t interfere with her mommy duties, the light-eyed beauty hasn’t adhered to conventions. She states that ‘screen time doesn’t count for her while deciding on a script’. Her role of a pop icon in her next, in which she is seen for a short duration, proves this fact. The actress reveals that it was the ‘bigger theme and context’ — body shaming — that drove her to do the film. Ash talks to After Hrs about how she battled being fat-shamed with positivity and urges young girls to do the same. Over to her…
Fanney Khan isn’t a typical heroine-oriented movie. So, what prompted you to do it?
I’m hoping that people recognise my interest in being a part of such a film because everyone has seen my journey. My story is an interesting paradox. While on one level, I’m the seemingly clichéd model-turned-pageant holder-turned-actress and there’s a typical trajectory to it, but if you look at it closely, there’s nothing normal about it. It has always been different with the kind of choices that I have made, where I wasn’t the typical model, title-holder or actor.
I decided to do this film because there’s an immense sweetness and a lightheartedness in the script; it’s wonderfully written. I could see why the makers wanted a star to play the pop singer. When they approached me, they told me, we wanted to take a chance and see if you would consider doing it since it’s not a big part. I could see what it could do for the larger picture.
At that point, only Anil (Kapoor) was attached to the film. I find him to be an extremely entertaining person. Even if he says or narrates anything, I start laughing (smiles). I got to work with him after so many years. I’m glad that Rajkummar Rao came on board because collectively it was fun. I didn’t get a chance to work with Pihu Sand, but she’s a confident girl.
Today with the influx of social media, body-shaming has become an important topic of discussion…
I would like to talk not just about body-shaming but this entire sense of self-belief, which is so important to everybody. It has always been, but today, it’s being talked about much more. Also, people need to be sensitive to each other. A subject like this seems perfect for the present times because communication has become a vital aspect of our lives. You can be heard by millions, if that’s what you seek. You can find a voice that can be a balm to you, in a split second. Hence, a topic like body-shaming is ideal to be talked about now.
You, too, were fat-shamed after delivering your daughter Aaradhya…
When I became a mother, it was the most beautiful feeling in the world. There were several hormonal changes within, but it didn’t change anything. And way before all this, whenever people would ask me fashion or trend-based questions, I’d always tell them to be comfortable in their skin. At least now you know I meant it and it wasn’t just for the quote (smiles). I believed it when I said that positivity is so much more than negativity and it can help to ease the crushing impacts of that. Be your best friend and in being so, be brutally honest to yourself. Sometimes, when you are down, you need to reach out to those people who you think can connect with you and comfort you enough.
So, who were the ones you reached out to?
On a subconscious level, everyone who’s touched my life has contributed to that. I don’t remember sitting down talking to anybody else about it. With so many years of experience, I have conditioned myself to find that best friend in myself.
Did you ever feel dejected reading what was being written about you at that point?
There was never a point of self-doubt. I’m so happy in my own life with Aaradhya around and the positivity as well as clarity that I have in my head about myself. At the end of the day, these are the choices I’m making. Nobody else is dictating or telling me how to be and what to do. Once you find that conviction and that voice within, it’s liberating. Then, someone else’s comments don’t faze you so easily. It’s important to not let anyone’s opinion define you. Only you can make that choice and you should, with every little experience you have. You don’t have to be angry or bitter and do things with a take-that-in-your-face kind of attitude. You need to find the comfort in doing that within yourself first and then it may be a positive response to negative comments.
The growing paparazzi and fashion police culture demands everyone to look good all the time. Does that make things difficult?
When I came out of the hospital (after delivering Aaradhya), I could have had the perfectly blow-dried hair. I could have thought about looking a certain way because I was stepping out and I knew that photographers would be waiting to click my pictures. But I didn’t do any of that. I’m not a fool or new to visibility. There are so many times I have seen people comment on my airport pictures, asking why I’m not changing my hairstyle. I feel like telling them, ‘Hello, it’s obvious that I am not playing into that?’ I might apply lipstick and eyeliner, but that’s normal for most women when they step out. Whether you choose to put a coloured lipstick or not, it’s again your choice. Just because you put an eyeliner and a lipper, you aren’t fake. Similarly, if you are just clean-faced and wrap a shawl around, you aren’t intellectual either. I could be doing everything else on the turf because I know enough professionals here but I choose not to go that way. Which is why you see me practically wearing overcoats all the time because that’s what I like. But yes, if someone professionally expects something else out of me, then I’ll do it because it’s the call of the occasion. I’m not a rebel but at the same time, I’m real.