The Power Punch Girl

Sonakshi Sinha talks to Gursimran Singh about Bollywood’s changing attitude towards female leads, inspiration from her action-hero co-stars and the need for body positivity in the industry

There’s a new action hero in Bollywood and no, it’s not Tiger Shroff. It’s Sonakshi Sinha. The actor is shedding her demure image and packing a punch in her new avatar, quite literally.

Bollywood has always been a patriarchal set-up, with male actors dominating the screen as the woman’s knight in shining armour. The leading ladies are reduced to being props on screen, objects upon which the hero projects his machismo. But steadily, if slowly, Bollywood is seeing a paradigm shift in this perspective.

“Audiences are now opening up to different kinds of films. Plots with strong female leads are doing well. I’d never thought I would play a lead in two consecutive action films, Akira and Force 2! Films such as Mary Kom have paved the way for more such roles to be written, and this is a great development,” she says.

The 29-year-old trained for almost five months to be able to do her own action sequences in Akira. “I trained in mixed martial arts for the film. I have been part of quite a few action films and remember watching the men do those amazing stunts and wishing I could do them, too! Looks like my wish was granted,” Sinha says. She is grateful to the action heroes she has worked with, as she feels that just watching them trained her in part for her new avatar. “Salman [Khan], Akshay [Kumar] and Ajay [Devgn] really inspired me to feel the action during the scenes,” she adds.

Sonakshi Sinha in Akira

The past few months have been gruelling for Sinha. “It was an intense shoot,” she says. “I was injured thrice – first my wrist, then my knee and then my back. I had to look like a fighter, not dainty and unrehearsed, and had to get my body language right. For someone who was just working out at the gym, this switch was strenuous. My trainer would stretch me out until I screamed.”

And still, Sinha is geared up for another round of high-octane action in Force 2. Doing two backto- back action films, is she apprehensive about being typecast? “Not at all!” she exclaims, “Heroes do back-to-back action films all the time. It’s never a risk to do good roles.”

Apart from packing a mean punch, Sinha has been the voice of body positivity in the industry. She flushed down negative comments about her body even as she graciously embraced her curves. “Why are girls told they have to look a certain way?” Sinha asks. “When you’re trying to be someone you’re not, you’re not being true to yourself. It’s not worth it. Being fit is important, but looking the same cookie-cutter way is not.”

Talking about the obsession with “size zero”, Sinha says, “I’ve heard kids say they are on a diet! Sometimes I’ve seen dieting taken to ridiculous lengths. I agree that one should eat healthy. If there is a certain look you aspire for, look that way – nobody is stopping you. But don’t starve yourself. I will always project a healthy body image, no matter what people tell me, no matter what is being written and spoken about me in society.”

On a parting note, as she is whisked away for a shot for Sunhil Sippy’s Noor, Sinha reiterates, “Always remember: Fitness over fad!”

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