KJo Apologizing For Body Shaming Alia Bhatt: Too Little, Too Late?

Karan Johar may have apologised for body shaming actor Alia Bhatt, but the apology has a bunch of issues. Here's why!

Karan Johar may have apologised for body shaming actor Alia Bhatt, but the apology has a bunch of issues. Here’s why!

After the success of his celebrity TV show Koffee With Karan, Karan Johar has recently donned the hat of an RJ for an FM radio channel. In this radio show, KJo introduced a segment called ‘reverse rapid fire’ where listeners can ask him questions. In one such round, when a caller questioned whether asking an actor or actress to lose weight for the sake of a movie role would amount to body shaming, Karan admitted that he was guilty of pushing Alia Bhatt, to do the same for her debut film under his banner.

“I asked Alia to lose weight and now, when I see her hysterical about how she looks, I feel responsible. She’s in the gym every day and even if she puts on an extra kilo, she goes crazy. I think I am to blame for it. Now that I am a parent, I would never do this to Roohi and I would like to apologize to Alia.”

Karan also mentioned that Alia used to be ‘pleasantly plump’ before she entered the film industry and Karan insisted her on losing weight to look more like a ‘mainstream actress’. Alia worked with Karan Johar in films like Student Of The Year, Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhania, Kapoor And Sons, Shaandaar and Badrinath Ki Dulhania.

It is definitely commendable that KJo honestly admitted his mistake and extended an apology. However, there are some issues that still bother me.

Firstly, KJo’s apology makes me wonder that, even though he himself was body shamed in the past, how come it was only after the arrival of his daughter that he realized how harmful body shaming is? Isn’t it similar to men saying things like, ‘Now that I’m a father, I understand what women go through.’ Or, ‘I respect so and so woman just like my mother or sister.’

Which brings us to the question: Do women deserve respect only if they are in someway related to the man in question and not by the virtue of just being a human being?

The next important question is that when will Bollywood and the media really start seeing women as smart, sensitive, and intelligent human beings rather than mere objects of superficial beauty? I was reminded of an interview of Vidya Balan where a reporter asked her, ‘We’ve seen you mostly in women centric movies, but do you plan on sticking to such movies in the future or have you planned on losing weight and doing some glamorous roles as well?’

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The reporter essentially perpetuated the stereotype yet again that women who are empowered or who believe in the equality of the genders are doing all these because they cannot look a certain way that society considers as ‘beautiful’. Hence, mainstream roles are reserved for glamorous women while these so called women-centric movies are all that these ‘unattractive’ women can do. Essentially, a woman’s identity is solely tied to her appearance and the weighing scale and the moment those ‘don’t work in her favour’ she becomes this revolutionary talking about more women’s issues. Do you realize how far our film industry still has to go to break such stereotypes?

As Vidya aptly replied in that interview, ‘I’m happy with the roles I’m doing. Maybe, it is you people who need to change their mindsets.’ Only with a change in mindset can our film industry and media realize that an actress doesn’t need to look a certain way, weigh within specific kilos, or belong to a specific age bracket in order to be a brilliant artist. Maybe, KJo can truly show how sorry he is by walking the talk and making movies where women don’t ‘need to lose weight’ in order to ‘fit in’.

Top image is a scene from the movie Dear Zindagi that features Alia Bhatt

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About the Author

Kasturi Patra

Kasturi’s debut novel, forthcoming in early 2021, had won the novel pitch competition by Half Baked Beans Publishers. She won the Runner Up Position in the Orange Flower Awards 2021 for Short Fiction. Her read more...

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