Sexism, Body Shaming: When Actors Exposed Harsh Side Of 90s Bollywood

Prominent Bollywood actors who made a footing in the 90s have spoken up about their early days, facing vile expectations or demands from seniors.

While 90s Bollywood is recalled for its larger-than-life storytelling coupled with iconic tracks like Tip Tip Barsa Pani, several actresses of the era have recently spoken up about the harsh side of the film industry. These women have revealed the abuse of power, blatant sexism, body-shaming, and nepotism prevalent in Bollywood when they had just made a footing. While we remember these divas for giving us some of the most indispensable cultural shifts, it is also important to acknowledge the challenges that they endured behind the scenes. From Sonali Bendre to Shilpa Shetty, here are the times when the top actors of Bollywood shared their ill experiences with 90s Bollywood.

Sonali Bendre Speaks Up About Beauty Standards

The ever-gorgeous Sonali Bendre has spoken about 90s Bollywood’s body-shaming culture in several interviews. Speaking to Bollywood Bubble in 2022, she recalled that she was told to gain weight to fit the fickle beauty standards back then.

“Being skinny was definitely not the standard of beauty, so voluptuousness was the standard of beauty, and you were just not woman enough if you were not voluptuous.

The actor, who is making waves as Amina Qureshi in The Broken News, also delved into her cancer recovery journey, expressing that making a comeback on the screen after her treatment was a scary experience. 

Shilpa Shetty Reveals Actresses Were Only Meant For ‘Glam’

Speaking to DNA, Shilpa Shetty recently expressed that actresses were only hired for the glam factor, undermining their real talent and hard work. “Either you were glamorous, or you were a great actress. There was no middle ground,” she said.

The Baazigar-famed actress revealed, “It was unfortunate, and you had to hedge your bets and decide which way you wanted to go. Many times, the makers would take that call for you and say, ‘You are better with glamorous parts’.”

In another interview during the promotion of her film Sukhee, she said that she was “never tagged as an actor.” She said, “I always got relegated or rather typecast into being just glamorous.”

Raveena Tandon’s Experience With Body Shaming

Raveena Tandon, one of the queens of 90s Bollywood, opened up about facing criticism for being what the makers considered overweight. Speaking to Asian News International, she recalled that she was often called “thunder thighs.”

Tandon, who started acting at just 16 years old, said that she and many other actresses were body-shamed by the media. “I was called a lot of things… I was plump, actually… I was full of baby fat, which still hasn’t gone. Though I don’t care now.”

“90s gossip magazines were the worst,” she expressed, adding that the tabloid writers “were the worst enemies of women, who body-shamed women, slut shamed women and would do everything possible to bring another woman down.” 

Sushmita Sen Called ‘Difficult’ For Asking Too Many Questions

“In the 90s, it was a much more closeted society, so for you to speak your mind and to say anything that you believed in was like… she is a bad influence, don’t get her in front of our kids and everyone else,” she recalled.

Sen even added that magazines avoided putting her on covers because of her quotes. “I was very loud and clear, and I always thought that if you take away my freedom to express myself, what freedom do I really have?”

Lara Dutta Says 90s Bollywood Was ‘Hero-Driven’

Opening about sexism in the Bollywood industry, Lara Dutta told Bollywood Bubble in an interview that films in the 90s were predominantly heralded by men. At the same time, actresses were relegated to the sidelines. 

She also described how OTT has created a space for lesser-recognised talented actors. “Because films have been so formula-driven, so hero-driven, some of these actors never really had an opportunity to shine.” 

“You now have got women who are ambitious, diabolical, relatable, that’s how we all are in different times of our life. That narrative has definitely changed,” Dutta said, describing the rise of OTT content. 

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