Ever since Nani and Sai Pallavi's Shyam Singha Roy came out on Netflix, several people on social media have been discussing how the film has handled the complex and sensitive subject of the Devadasi system. Sai Pallavi's portrayal of Maithri, a young woman from the Devadasi community, has won praise from many viewers, particularly her vibrant dance. However, a viral post in Tamil on how the actor is not beautiful has triggered many responses, not in the least from BJP leader Dr Tamilisai Soundarajan who is currently serving as the Governor of Telangana.
Speaking to Puthiya Thalaimurai channel, Dr Tamilisai, who has frequently been trolled and abused for her appearance, said that she has handled such comments with courage. "It is only those who have been mocked like this who will know how much it hurts. I have been hurt, but I've overcome it with my talent, my hard work and toil. We're not Mahatmas to be unaffected by such comments. I've ignored it but if you ask me if it hurts, of course it does," she said.
"Being born as short, dark-skinned, or with hair like mine is not our mistake, and there is beauty in all of this. That's why our proverb says kaakkai thann kunju ponn kunju (a crow considers its chick to be a golden chick, no matter what its colour), and it doesn't reject it because it's dark," she added.
Dr Tamilisai further pointed out that it's mainly women who are body shamed while men do not face as much criticism for their appearance. She added that women also face ageist discrimination while men who are in their 50s are still considered to be young.
"A society which cannot stop women from progressing tries to curtail their rapid stride by hurting them," she said.
In a live TV interview today, highlighted on Body-Shaming & its impact on women.— Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan (@DrTamilisaiGuv) January 27, 2022
No woman should be discriminated on basis of their appearances/looks, color complexion & other physical characteristics.@PMOIndia @HMOIndia @MoHFW_INDIA @PTTVOnlineNews @pibchennai @ANI pic.twitter.com/rsPMLKKc7Z
Previously too, Dr Tamilisai has spoken out against body shaming. In January 2019, she responded to an offensive cartoon in Tamil daily Dinamalar that made her look deliberately disheveled by exaggerating the appearance of her hair. Speaking to Vikatan magazine, Tamilisai said, “Women who are fairer than I am are not mocked like this by this society. That is perversion. Even if I am a decent woman, a doctor and a politician, they only pay attention to my complexion and my physical appearance. This is a big injustice. They don't like it when a woman grows as a strong leader. It is natural then that women are basically not respected. Those who have the basic nature of not respecting women are the ones capable of passing opinions like that. When people coming from a strong background like mine are mocked like this for being a woman, how will other women get the courage to enter politics?”
Sai Pallavi, a hugely popular actor in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam, made her debut with Premam in which she co-starred with Nivin Pauly. Though Sai Pallavi was unsure about the audience accepting her since she has acne marks on the skin, director Alphonse Puthren convinced her to do the film. Not only did the film become a blockbuster, the character of Malar Miss that Sai Pallavi portrayed, became nothing short of a phenomenon.
Many women actors face trolling and abuse on social media for their looks, similar to the viral post that dissected Sai Pallavi's looks and claimed that she was not beautiful. This includes award winning actor Nimisha Sajayan who is frequently trolled for not being 'heroine material'. Though a section of the audience is stuck in such a shallow understanding of beauty and talent, the wide popularity and success of these women shows that such regressive views are on their way out.