It's not about my weight, it's about my talent
Stereotyping people with extra weight in the entertainment industry in nothing new but this is the kind of narrative that actor/comedian Mallika Dua wants to disrupt
In a country where people with extra weight are quite easily stereotyped as 'funny', Mallika Dua says being funny is something that has to come from within and has nothing to do with someone's weight.
Mallika, who has lately been trying to work out to be healthier, said in an exclusive interview with Millennium Post that people come to her with the strangest statements, "They come and tell me 'why are you working out? what you are doing is great, don't lose weight, how will you get work?' I don't know how to respond to that, I mean dude, me getting work is not about my weight, it is about my talent."
The actor who was present at Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films in New Delhi recently, feels that it is not about the weight or size and she is just trying to be healthy.
Where often people hit the gym to reduce weight before coming into the entertainment industry, Mallika never felt the need to do so. While pursuing a BA in theatre from a university in the US, she never thought about what weight or size. "I never thought that because I am a certain size so I can't pursue acting. Maybe that was because I studied in the US where there is a lot of body positivity in comparison to India."
She took a lot of classes in dance, ballet and other forms of arts there, where many people were large in size. How well they were in their art and how flexible their body made more difference than their appearance, according to the stand-up comedian. "I think all of that helped in changing my perspective," she explained. Moreover, it was the eagerness to be on stage, make herself heard, and make people laugh that would always win over any second thoughts she might have had about a career in acting.
"I knew I wanted to perform, and I knew that will be my destiny eventually no matter where I am or what I do," said the actor who landed up in advertising as a copywriter but never stopped acting. While she was working in advertising, she used to audition for ads, and even her acting skills helped her write and narrate the scripts to clients in a much better way. What changed Mallika's life, however, was that one online video which blew up on the internet and made her the face of 'comedy'.
"It was one video in which I was performing multiple characters, which was loved by people. I never realised that it would spread the way it did. It was the first time people saw someone in India playing all different characters in one single video. They enjoyed it, it was something that people connected with."
But does she only want to be funny, only want to stick to comedy? "Not at all," the answer comes, adding, "I am afraid of being stereotyped as a comedian. I don't think your size determines what parts you can play. Of course, that is how the mentality is. And, that is what casting notes also say: 'she is chubby, so the role comes to me'".
That is the perception she wants to break.
Mallika credits all her success to the internet and social media, and she accepts that if it was not for OTT platforms, she would not have made it that big. "I think a person like me and a voice like me would never be able to express myself on any other platform as freely as I can do it here," said the actor who tried working in TV, but says that it did not work out for her.
After meeting many celebrities in her own show Midnight Misadventures with Mallika Dua, the actor says the episodes with Vicky Kaushal, Rajkummar Rao, and Vishal Dadlani have been her favourites.
And of course she has a long list of actors she would like to work with, including the likes of Nawazzudin Siddiqui, Pankaj Tripathi, Rajkummar Rao, Vicky Kaushal, Alia Bhatt, Seema Pahwa, Tabu, and Kirron Kher. But for now, all she wants is to step out of the 'comedian' identity and explore something really dark. "I want to do something really dark, not a very positive character, maybe thriller, murderer," she said.