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They're curvy and loving it!

In an industry that’s dominated by weight issues, Shikha Talsania and Pushtie are large-hearted enough to say – we don’t care a damn. Here's what the two actresses said...

entertainment Updated: Jan 30, 2010 19:01 IST
Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi

Pushtie

It's never okay to call people names. And especially in this age of rabid political correctness, calling anyone anything can be a problem. That’s why it’s so refreshing to meet two actresses who have no qualms with calling a spade a spade. Or, rather, proclaiming proudly – you can call us fat, it’s okay!



Shikha Talsania (of

Wake Up Sid

fame) and Pushtie of

Mahi Way

(currently on

Sony

) are “perfectly at ease” with their weight. And ecstatic that they’ve made it on TV and the big screen without having to slim down. Lounging around on sofas at Oh-Two-Two, the all-day dining restaurant at the new Trident hotel in Mumbai’s Bandra Kurla Complex, the two actresses bonded over iced tea, and raised a toast to their plus sized personalities.



Brunch:

So have we reached a phase in Indian television and cinema when being overweight is no longer a problem?


Shikha:

You can say fat. It’s really fine.


Pushtie:

True. We are perfectly at ease at being termed fat.


Shikha:

Actually, it was never a problem. It was just the way we bracketed the weight issue in films and on TV. We had a specific categorisation of each character – the old, sobbing mother, a villain’s sidekick, and in the same vein, the fat girl. She was always the hungry, sloppy, comical character.



Brunch:

Would you say that that was because of the kind of films that were made?


Pushtie:

To a large extent. We were set in this stereotype and it was very difficult to get out of it. The new films are perhaps a welcome change.


Shikha:

Totally. It is perhaps because now realistic films like

Wake Up Sid

are being made that people are beginning to accept that real people aren’t always gorgeous looking all the time.


Brunch:

But don’t you think this whole weight issue was a bit overdone, with everyone wanting to be a size zero?


Shikha:

I think it became so huge because Kareena did it.


Pushtie:

Absolutely. But that really isn’t the true picture. You know, Indian women have never been skinny. We have always been full-bodied, voluptuous beings. Look at all our older heroines – from Meena Kumari to Madhubala, none of them could really claim to be svelte.


Shikha:

Why go that far, look at Madhuri. Do you remember her curves?


Pushtie:

I agree totally. I think we are naturally well endowed. Why do we need to look otherwise? And just look at our goddesses. They are portrayed as well endowed, curvaceous women.


Shikha:

Very honestly, I love my curves. And I couldn’t care less what the world thinks.


Pushtie:

Ditto ditto. I must confess, whatever the general perception may be, even men love curves.


Brunch:

Really?


Shikha and Pushtie:

Absolutely.


Pushtie:

All the men I have been with have loved the curves.


Shikha:

Same here. Though my most serious relationship lasted exactly one month (laughs); then I got dumped!


Pushtie:

I think I have always been the one to dump guys. I have had relationships that have lasted a long time. Perhaps that’s because I always dated older men.



Brunch:

But what about family? After all, people can at times be insensitive about a person’s weight.


Shikha:

You have seen my family. My dad, Tikku Talsania, at least? Do you think they really would have much to say? (laughs)


Pushtie:

My family is very “well maintained”. You see my brother Vrajesh Hirjee, the actor? See how thin he is? Only, I am far prettier. So yes, I surely heard things from family – I still do at times. They aren’t really cruel, but my mum does get worried. I hear the usual statements like “

shaadi kaise hogi

?” or I am often told how I should be gymming.


Shikha:

I don’t think I am spared these statements as well. I am regularly told to go to the gym. The bad part is that dad is a gym freak and he is capable of losing weight ultra fast. So my folks think that I should do the same. But I hate the gym!


Pushtie:

I couldn’t agree with you more. Every time I start exercising at a gym, I feel I have put on more weight (both laugh out loud).


Shikha:

You know, for me it was a double whammy. I was a ‘little overweight’, and I wasn’t really a brilliant student. So I had the world give me advice. I would always hear someone say ‘

Actor toh ban hi jaayegi’

. And why blame just the

aunties

? While I was working in production, one actress came up to me and said, ‘

Liposuction kara le, you’ll look so good’

. I just wanted to kill her!


Pushtie:

You should have. But really, it’s never ending. After a point you just learn to ignore people and be happy.



Brunch:

But you did act in TV and films, and on stage. What was it like?


Shikha:

I did theatre till about college. I also got some offers in TV and films. But every time, it was the same – the role of a fat girl who was either after food or men. I was sure I didn’t want to play a woman who would lick her lips every time she was hungry or horny. That’s when I decided that working behind the camera was a better deal.


Pushtie:

It was the same for me. I was sick of playing a hungry child – it seemed like an insult. And I knew I deserved better. So I just packed my bags six years ago and left for Goa where I practiced alternative therapies like angel therapy and Reiki. It gave me peace of mind.




Shikha:

Wow! You have a spiritual side to you also?


Pushtie:

Yes, I am very spiritual. I don't drink, smoke, smoke up or believe in casual sex. I meditate and do yoga and healing. My friends tell me I wasted space in Goa (smiles).


Shikha:

(with a very straight face) I totally agree with your friends.


Pushtie:

You won’t believe me, but my friends would come to Goa and stay for days without indulging in any of their addictions. They said they felt healed and I was like their guardian angel.


Shikha:

Not that I am an addict, but I won’t visit you in Goa. And, what are you doing here? You should go to the Himalayas and start healing from there (laughs).


Pushtie:

I think so too. I think my meditation and spirituality help me. I have grown up on Kahlil Gibran and Osho.


Shikha:

I feel so shallow – I only read Nancy Drew.


Pushtie:

(Smiles) But it really works. When I left Mumbai six years ago, I told myself that I’ll come back as a heroine of the Yash Raj banner, just the way I am. And here I am. How did I know Yash Raj would start with TV...



Brunch:

So now that you two have made it, on your own terms, are you happy?


Pushtie:

It’s just about begun. But, yes, I am happy that people have finally started eating, and that they acknowledge that all fat people are not nutcases. They have a life, they have insecurities, complexes and inhibitions, but those are as normal as any sex siren’s.



Brunch:

Any insecurities and complexes?


Shikha:

Of course. We all have our own set of those. Remember that one scene in

Wake Up Sid

when Lakshmi confesses to being irritated about her weight? It's true. There are times when I do feel like wearing a bikini, or walking into a store and picking up a perfect fit. But that’s normal. There is so much more to life than just one’s size.


Pushtie:

But I have done all that. I've worn a bikini, and stitched my own stringy gowns with thigh-high slits. I couldn’t care a damn if someone thought I had fat thighs or a big belly. I loved it, I did it. One has to move beyond one’s insecurities.



Brunch:

So what next?


Pushtie:

As of now, it’s

Mahi Way

.


Shikha (in an exaggerated Manoj Kumar style):

I am a struggling actor. I am waiting for good scripts.


Pushtie:

For now we have found friends in each other, we’ll celebrate that.


Shikha (to Brunch):

And when we get the ‘Fat Friendship’ award next year, we shall thank you before our mummy, papa, boyfriends, etc. and of course Pushtie’s gods and angels too.



On the plus side...


There are many initiatives urging women to embrace their bodies. Organisers in Thailand host a ‘Jumbo Queen’ contest open to women who weigh over 80 kg. Several authors have written books on the subject, including Fat! So?

You don’t have to apologize for your size

by Marilyn Wann,

Tipping the Scales of Justice: Fighting Weight-Based Discrimination

by Sondra Soloway and

Largely Happy: Changing Your Mind About Your Body

by Lynda Finn. Groups in the US like The Padded Lilies, Big Burlesque and the Fat Bottom Revue intentionally feature fat bodies in their shows. There are also several NGOs fighting fat discrimination.