HT Brunch Cover Story: Sonakshi Sinha Vs the trolls
If you are out to heckle Sonakshi Sinha on social media or in life, prepare for a firing in return!Updated: Jan 04, 2020 22:41 IST
A few months ago, Sonakshi Sinha was brutally trolled for not being able to answer a question at a quiz show. Things got so bad that #YoSonakshiSoDumb started trending on Twitter. But instead of taking this quietly, the actress hit back with a hilarious but hard-hitting post giving trolls other interesting options for new memes on her. She ended the post with “…Agar aapke paas koi kaam nahi aur itna time hai toh please yeh sab pe bhi memes banao na. I love memes (sic)”
This was not the first time the actor had faced such viciousness on social media. And neither was it the first time that she hit back at them. Sonakshi Sinha has been at the receiving end of vitriolic attacks since her very first film, when the stunning actor was bodyshamed.
“Someone comes up with something and that sticks with you forever. Whatever my waist size is, I am forever being called fat. It is quite unpleasant really. Especially since I was heavily overweight at one point and had put in a lot of effort to shed those extra kilos before joining Bollywood. I knew it is a visual medium and I had to look a certain way to become an actor. I am so glad that that stereotype for heroines is slowly breaking now, but when I started off it was very much there. I made sure I met all the requirements to be considered worthy – and still people were calling me fat,” says Sonakshi.
“For me, it was a great achievement to have lost 30 kilos. I had never looked as good as I did and I was feeling rather proud of it. So it hit me real hard when people said, ‘Oh, she is too fat to be an actress’. Yes, I was too fat, but I had lost all those extra kilos to be here,” she says.
Strong in spirit
Fortunately – or unfortunately – Sonakshi had faced serious bullying in school for being obese, and now she says those growing up years made her strong enough to face this phase of her life. “I was always teased by the boys, the girls would call me names…I was a big girl. But slowly I developed a defence mechanism, which would not let me get bogged down by insults. It was like, I am this person, take it or leave it. That attitude really helped me deal with this and not slip into depression or drown in self pity,” she shares.
According to Sonakshi, her positive mindset and confidence really helped her in these situations. “I have always been a very confident person, even while going through all that bullying and fat shaming in school. I knew I am not only about how I look. I was great at sports, debates, plays; I had all those things going for me. I had no doubt about the fact that I am very talented, irrespective of how I look. I didn’t derive my confidence from being fat or not fat,” she says. “I have continued with the same approach. When I did Lootera (2013), I was at my biggest on screen, and I gave you a critically acclaimed performance as Pakhi. I was at my thinnest when I did Mission Mangal (2019) and got so much appreciation for playing Eka Gandhi. Your talent is not related to your weight. But you need to have the talent!”
But of course, since she is only human, she was initially bothered by social media trolling. “I was new in the industry then and also new to the world of social media and I would post reactions. But with time, I have realised that replying to them only makes them a bit famous and gets them a few new followers. So now I have a new trick. Whenever they push my buttons, I promptly push the block button! It must be quite frustrating to put so much effort in trolling someone and to not only not get a reaction but to get shut out entirely. The trolls should not be given too much attention, because they just want the attention, so deny them that very thing!” she laughs out loud.
A thousand words
However, the dabangg daughter of Shatrughan ‘Shotgun’ Sinha is never khamoshed when things really come to a head. “It is not that I don’t react because I am scared of the troll brigade, I don’t because I find it a waste of my energy. I would rather concentrate on my work or react to positive constructive criticism. But if I feel something needs a reaction I don’t shy away from speaking my mind. Just because I am patient doesn’t mean you can get away with anything!” she says, adding: “Also, it depends a lot on my day and my mood!”
While the actor uses her Twitter account to post about work-related stuff, she loves Instagram. “I like clicking and posting pictures. So that’s the best platform for me,” she says adding that since it is her way of being in direct contact with her fans, she keeps it as authentic as possible and it is not handled by her PR team. “Only the social media posts on film promotions are done by my team. Apart from that, I handle my own Insta. That much toh I can do for my fans! Also, by now I am quite aware of what I can and cannot post,” she says, but adds that being a private person she doesn’t post everything that is happening in her life. “Social media is all about being authentic but at the same time, I don’t let it take over my entire life. You have to run your social media, never the other way round.”
Sonakshi is also known for voicing her opinions on social media and to her no topic is taboo. “I don’t like to get into other people’s fights or talk about other people’s issues. I am inherently a peace-loving person. I don’t like to get into an altercation just for the sake of it. Today, a lot of people, including some celebrities, say random controversial things on social media just to be in the news and to get people talking about them. That is so not my scene. I find it really, really tacky. I don’t post to stay relevant. I post when I want to, when I have something to say.
“If I feel strongly about something, if I want to raise my voice against something, I will definitely post. But yes, one needs to be very, very cautious with one’s choice of words while doing so. Anything can be misconstrued or taken totally out of context and blown out of proportion,” says the actor who was among the few Bollywood celebrities to strongly condemn the recent police atrocities on students in Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University.
And Sonakshi gets some of her irreverence from her dad. Shatrughan Sinha was and still is known for being an outspoken person who does not mince his words. Some glittering examples of his guts and glory can still be found on the columns he wrote for magazines. “He is absolutely a no filter person. He is called ‘Shotgun’ because he says things straight! And we have learnt from him,” says Sonakshi adding that she, like her father, is not a very diplomatic person.
“At home, we grew up with certain values and principles, and were taught to stand up for those if need be. We were also taught not to answer back to our parents and elders and to be respectful towards everyone. I have never stepped over that line where I would offend someone just for the heck of it. But I am the kind of person who appreciates honesty.
“I am a lot like my dad. But the difference is that he didn’t belong to the social media generation, so he could afford to be unfiltered. I can’t! I have to keep a filter,” she says.
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From HT Brunch, January 5, 2020
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