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Anil Kapoor: Body shaming is a curse and it really hurt our kids

Kapoor's next film Fanney Khan is an underdog story, which also highlights the problem of body shaming and its effects.

Mayur Lookhar

Actor Anil Kapoor has spoken out against body shaming in light of his film Fanney Khan which will be out on 3 August. In Fanney Khan, Anil plays father to Lata Sharma, a talented singer often bullied for being overweight.

While the film is an underdog story, it also highlights the problem of body shaming and its effects.

The issue of weight has previously dogged Anil's real-life daughter actress Sonam Kapoor and also his nephew actor Arjun Kapoor. Before she began her a career as an actress, Sonam weighed around 86kgs. Arjun, too, had to lose oodles of weight to get into shape for his acting career.

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Sonam had spent four years studying in Singapore. It was during this phase that she put on a lot of weight, which affected her confidence. “Those 3-4 years were traumatic for her and when she returned home, I was shocked. The way she walked, the agony of climbing stairs, the misery on her face broke my heart,” Anil said in a statement.

Sonam lost 35kgs to get into shape for her debut film Saawariya (2007). The Race 3 (2018) actor appreciated director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who launched her with Saawariya (2007). Sonam had earlier assisted Bhansali in Black (2005).

“She was still on the heavier side and seemingly unconcerned during the shooting of Black, but perhaps Sanjay saw the beautiful girl beneath that ungainly body and offered to launch her in Saawariya," Anil said.

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The senior Kapoor only fully understood the trauma that his daughter went through when she talked about her struggles as a teen in a recent interview. “To be honest, I could not have imagined Sonam’s deep concerns with her appearance, because to me she has always been flawless," he said, admitting that his daughter would spend hours in front of the mirror scrutinising her appearance and coming up short.

Sonam Kapoor, Arjun Kapoor (file picture)

Ever after shedding the excess weight, Sonam wasn’t averse to criticism. And senior Kapoor claimed a slightest remark about her looks, would see Sonam go off food completely. The criticism invariably affected her self-esteem.

Talking about the issue of body shaming, Anil said, “Body shaming is a curse and it really hurt our kids.” He also pointed out that according to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders (ANAD) at least 30 million of all ages and genders in the US suffer from eating disorders, resulting in at least one death every 62 seconds.  

Despite the criticism, Anil has always regarded his children highly. "Sonam has always been perfect and flawless in my eyes and I couldn’t be happier that she is healthy and content with herself today. When it comes to beauty, we really need to shift the focus from physicality to personality. Women who are smart, intelligent, empathetic, determined and accomplished are beautiful. And that is the kind of beautiful Sonam is,” he said.

Like Sonam, her cousin Arjun, too, had to work hard on getting in shape. Anil thanked Salman Khan for helping out Arjun.

“The credit for that goes to Salman (Khan). When his father [brother Boney Kapoor] showed me his new pictures, I was pleasantly surprised and so proud,” said the Race 3 (2018) actor.

Coming back to the film, Kapoor gave a huge thumbs to the 20-year-old Pihu Sand, who plays his daughter Lata in Fanney Khan.

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“Having seen the original Belgian film, Everybody’s Famous! (2000), I knew this was a tricky bit of casting, but after meeting the bindaas Pihu I knew instantly that she was our Lata. When I see talent, everything else pales into insignificance, including someone’s physicality,” said Anil.

Directed by Atul Manjrekar, Fanney Khan will be released on 3 August.

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