Double XL: Bollywood's Flimsy Attempt That Does No Good
Body Dysmorphia or Body Dysmorphic Disorder is a mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance. In today’s world, where Kardashian body types, judgemental aunty’s snarky comments on our bodies and brands having only S size clothing have been normalized, in this article we unwind various aspects of body dysmorphia in line with Bollywood’s new take on it.
Although any measurable change towards society’s fascination with inches might take thousands of years and a hell lot of revolution, one step towards reaching the masses and spark a conversation is more than essential.
Sonakshi Sinha and Huma Qureshi starrer Double XL, by Santram Ramani, tries to make a discourse around “body shaming” with two women hailing from completely different backgrounds when an unanticipated scenario brings them together. Bollywood’s take on this distinct title tries to gather momentum and pace but somehow doesn’t have the fundamental anthem that needs the push to make it a success that I wish it was.
What is the big deal with the word "FAT"?
When my first pair of jeans failed to fit me and my tummy grew fatter, I didn’t like the person that stood in front of me in the mirror for the first time in my life. My parents never noticed any change in me beyond just loving me the way I was. My father never asked me to “shred some inches” or “ektu kom khao. khub healthy hoye jaccho.” Then, why must I feel this way? How could I rip off and throw away this skin, when it is all mine? Will I ever be loved despite my tummy rolls? Do the stretch marks on my butt make me less appealing? What if my arm rolls are too visible in the picture? Maybe, if I starve myself and stop eating I can finally be liked by him? I should just stop taking pictures.
While my parents never pointed me out, all my relatives made sure I knew I grew from a size M to a size XL. Every party that I ever attended came with an extra dose of “tumi toh khub mota hoye gecho. How come you’ve grown so healthy?”
Oh, and the rage that burned inside me when they addressed me as “healthy” instead of “fat”. It’s like everybody in Hogwarts is afraid of saying Voldemort’s name lest they summon The One Who Must Not be Named. DAMN IT! Just call me fat, what’s the big deal? What kind of bad omen resides in that 3 lettered words I never figured out. The world has criminalized being fat to that extent where even uttering it feels wrong.
Never have I ever been called “sexy”, “hot” or just cute. Why? Does the threshold of sexiness end when the inches grow from 24 to 34? I never figured.
My mother, a plus-size woman, I’ve barely seen loved completely. I wish I could go back to her childhood, and change the lens towards the world that has forced her to un-love parts of herself.
I wish I could tell her “maa, tumi khub shundor. you’re loveable, maa.”
Does Double XL really live up to what it aims to show?
Sonakshi Sinha and Huma Qureshi starrer Double XL revolve around two women from different backgrounds sharing their journey of body shaming. While Rajshree Trivedi struggles to make her “larger than life” dreams come true, whilst she fights her impervious mother who wishes to marry her off because she feels her daughter would land up nowhere with her “size”.
Saira Khanna is a stylish, modern designer from Delhi who hopes to launch her own label one day. Saira’s story starts when she finally realizes after her best friend pestered her for the umpteenth time, that she is definitely dating an asshole when she finds out that her boyfriend is cheating on her. Her wallow grows coupled with her now failing dreams and the realization, he did it because of her “size”. The two happen to meet when Rajshree gets rejected from her dream job interview in a live cricket commentary firm and Saira’s dream of her travelogue almost doesn’t see the light of day.
Rajshri Trivedi dreams to be a sports presenter and Saira Khanna urgently wants a director for her travelogue. When the two meet at a washroom, wailing loudly about one getting rejected from her interview because of her “Double XL” size and two ending up with no director, Saira suddenly lands up with the idea of taking Rajshree along to London to shoot for her.
It is at this moment, I really wished something along the lines of “finding myself”, a “self-love journey” would begin but the only form of rebellion these two women end up doing is hogging loads of food beyond the glances of people. A petty take on what could’ve been the essential pivot of the story. The lack of nuances and connectedness between scenes makes it an awful attempt to put up a progressive title for the sake of it.
The movie lacks strong storytelling and fails to stand on its feet. My hopes for Bollywood were little when it comes to issues as such, but weren’t so less. The worst way the story could’ve progressed was involving a man to save these two in fighting their battles. Why does Bollywood think they should always make a man the superhero to save the day?
Zorawar, or Zo, Za, Zu, the line producer (he repeats it more times than the writer implementing any form of hype in the story) makes an attempt to save Rajshree’s defeated dreams come true when he lies to Kapil Dev and arranges an interview with him.
The interview changes the scheme of things for Rajshree, back home though her mother arranges men for to wed her.
Zorawar continues his cheap flirtatious skills for Saira, in the meantime, Rajshri draws more connection towards Shrikant, the camera person.
It is worth mentioning that Sri has very little to no involvement as he struggles to be fluent in Hindi and is eternally stoned.
(WHY GOD WHY DOES IT HAVE TO HAVE A LOVE ANGLE TO IT? EVERY DAMN TIME, BOLLYWOOD)
The shooting for the travelogue continues when suddenly Saira realizes she is missing a specific element. She quickly realizes she has forgotten to include every “body size” in her style, which came as a shock, knowing well she is plus size herself how could this slip her mind?
The last bit of the movie slightly makes up for the rest of the blunder it has caused. A fashion show showcasing various body types wearing Saira’s designer clothes during the screening of her travelogue, Rajshree being the showstopper. That 10-minute scene had more representation with respect to the title than the rest 100 minutes of the movie, and that is plain sad. The movie is all over the place, with characters and stories popping out of nowhere
If you’re looking forward to the film in the hopes of seeing Bollywood achieve a milestone, I hate to break it to you, but it has failed again.
Saira and Rajshri’s story could’ve been a solid 10 if it had a strong storyline to back it up, not an annoying man popping up every 2 mins with the same repetitive dialogue to flirt with Saira and a broader panoramic view of the subject in question. It was left with several loopholes and an unnecessary stretch of minutes.
The writers had very good intentions while creating this but the script materialized into choppy segments devoid of any congruency.
This movie could’ve been a story of sisterhood, self-love, and a journey to self-actualize. Instead, it was a dragged bunch of scenes with mention of body shaming in fringes.
At one point, it felt like I had to push myself to finish it in order to write this.
The strong well intentioned message drowned somewhere when the urge of the writers to preach was so loud.
Written By: Debapriya Ray