Jalsa actors Shefali Shah and Vidya Balan discussed the persistent sexism and ageism that exists in Bollywood and the society we live in. In an exclusive interview with Mojo Story, the two actors spoke about everyday “normalized” sexism and ageism.
Shah and Balan have made unapologetic choices in terms of the films they’ve chosen to appear in. They have both received accolades for their performances in the latest thriller film Jalsa. “It’s one of the rare films with extremely high EQ and IQ,” Shefali Shah said.
When asked about her position in the industry at this point in her life, Balan told Mojo Story, “I love the place I occupy in the industry. At this age and stage of my life, I’m really enjoying being myself.”
She stated that for the longest time in her career, the director and producer had asked her to lose weight. However, ever since she has started standing up for her body and her choices, people have stopped asking her to lose weight.
Having been subjected to body-shaming after all these years, the actor believes that it occurs primarily because women have been viewed as objects of desire, and we have always associated desire with a specific body type.
However, she concurred that to be yourself unapologetically and holding onto yourself is the most precious and toughest thing to do, “To not fall prey to expectations that people impose upon you and to cut out the noise, and to tune in to what you feel is always a work in progress.”
Shah, whose career has recently been boosted by streaming projects such as Delhi Crime and Ajeeb Daastaans, mentioned that “Some years ago, if there was a conversation about a woman in her late 40s, coming into her own space and owning up, I wouldn’t have believed that conversation.”
She recalls a few incidents of sexism in her household recalling, “It’s been years of conditioning that a woman stays at home and looks after the house. She does the household chores, the husband goes out and works.”
She added, “When I am at home and haven’t gone to work, nobody asks me ‘why haven’t you gone to work?’ but if my husband doesn’t go to work, I will ask, ‘why are you not going to office today?’”
On the issue of equal pay for male and female actors in the industry, she stated, “Your talent in the industry does not translate into work or pay; your stardom does. And the pay will be higher based on the person’s star power.”
Watch the full interview here: