From her iconic performance in Dil Se on the song ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’ to her life now as a successful entrepreneur, Malaika Arora has come a long way. A single mother living life on her own terms, Malaika’s confidence has multiplied with age and no one handles being unfairly shamed and criticised as gracefully as she does.
On 23 October, as Malaika Arora turns a year older, we look back at all the times she was fabulous, unapologetic, and spoke her mind freely.
1. On Finding Love Again
After her divorce with Arbaaz Khan, Malaika found love once again with actor Arjun Kapoor. But even before she went public with her relationship, Malaika was receiving hate for being with a man younger than her. Her retort for the same is direct and simple, “Unfortunately, we live in a society that refuses to progress with time. An older man romancing a younger girl is hailed everywhere, but when the woman is older, she’s called desperate and a buddhi.”
2. On Challenging Conventional Beauty Standards
No one owns their body like fitness queen Malaika does. Over the years, not only has she set her own beauty standards, but she’s also quashed regressive ideas about feminine beauty. From the idea of ageing and wrinkles to stretch marks, Malaika’s never shied away from what’s human. Recalling a time when she posted a particular photo flaunting her stretch marks on Instagram, she said, “The other day I posted a picture in which a few of my stretch marks showed and people started commenting on how gross they are. What is gross about stretch marks? Whenever I see those on my body, I smile… they remind me of my beautiful baby boy. Childbirth changes the body. Why should I have to hide my stretch marks or feel ashamed or apologetic? They are my medals of motherhood!”
3. On the Impact of MeToo
In 2018, Tanushree Dutta’s allegations against Nana Patekar triggered the MeToo conversation in Bollywood. Ever since, a number of women have come out and spoken up. But despite that, the real impact has been minimal. Here’s Malaika serving the truth on that.
“If we are talking about this industry, one is seeing a lot (of things) happening. People are talking about it. But for actual change to happen or for people to actually sit up and do something about it and actually make movement out of it, mindset has to change and people’s mindset cannot change overnight,” said Malaika.
4. On the Power of ‘No’
In a society that has conditioned women to constantly compromise on boundaries, Malaika has always been vocal about fighting the toxic mindset. In fact, it’s a dilemma she personally faces every time the spotlight is more on her personal life than her professional achievements. “It comes with the territory. You have to be able to strike the right balance and say ‘no’ when required. It comes with the business,” she says.
5. On Bollywood’s Obsession With ‘Item Songs’
Ever since the days of the iconic song ‘Chaiyya Chaiyya’, Malaika has become the face of Bollywood’s ‘item songs’ - a term she herself does not approve of. While speaking to film critic Anupama Chopra, she said, “I’ve always had a problem with it being called ‘item song’. Imagine someone calling me, ‘yeh kya item hai’ (what an item), I’d turn around and slap that person.”
Previously, Malaika has openly declared that the final say in a matter involving a woman should always be with the woman. She adds, “If I felt like I was not okay with something, I’d voice my opinion. I’d say, ‘No I don’t like that step’. If I felt like I was being objectified, I’d say it, and I’m not stupid.”
6. On Dealing With Trolls
Despite her candid demeanor, (or perhaps because of it?), Malaika gets trolled ever so often on the internet. But over the years, she’s found her mantra. She says, “One should not give importance to trolls, because if you pay heed to them you just fuel trolling. At the end of the day we have something called the media to project everything that needs to be out there. I do not give trolling or negativity any importance.”
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