2 foods Parineeti Chopra cut out of her diet to lose weight and get super fit


2 foods Parineeti Chopra cut out of her diet to lose weight and get super fit

Losing weight and taking a short break has been liberating. So what is everybody’s problem?

By Deepa Menon  October 23rd, 2015

2Earlier this year, when speculation was rife on who would replace Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, comedian Jessica Williams’ name was very popular. So popular, in fact, that when Williams said she felt she wasn’t right for the job, she was attacked by her own supporters. She responded with a tweet: “I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things. I am truly honoured that people love my work. But I am not yours.”

The same sense of betrayal, for want of a better word, seems to be inspired by Parineeti Chopra after she lost all that weight recently. The winsome brat who charmed us in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl (2011), the woman who initiated sex and smoked on the toilet in Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), the child-woman who soiled her sari in Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) — would she now be replaced by a Bollywood ‘heroine’? The kind that cares more about her best side and fitting into a designer’s sample size than really committing to character?

“A couple of days ago a journalist said to me, you were known to be this bindaas girl who didn’t really care about her body and now you seem to have succumbed to industry pressure. And it just gave me a perspective on how somebody who doesn’t know me or doesn’t know actors, thinks,” says Chopra. The apprehension is not misplaced, but as with all things showbiz, the level of attention her weight loss received has been bizarre. There are reports that she dropped the kilos by visiting an Austrian detox centre (true), practising Kalaripayattu (partly true) and courting anorexia (not true). We liked you just fine, some of these reports seem to be tut-tutting, so why did you have to go and get all skinny? To that Chopra has much to say, but the gist is: I’m not yours.

See, she never wanted the sweet-cherub tag. It just sort of happened when she was thrust into the spotlight in 2011. A former banker and public relations executive with Yash Raj Films, Chopra was spotted in the manner that all aspiring actors dream of being discovered. Only it wasn’t her dream and everything about those first couple of years was unplanned and maniacal. Feeling like she had to make the most of the momentum she gained after her first two films, she signed on a bunch of projects and endorsements. It was heady, it was exhilarating — and then she stopped sleeping. 

Between 2013 and 2014, Chopra worked on four films back to back, appeared on a reality show and juggled many brand commitments. “I was on set 365 days. I would sleep on flights and be dubbing in the car. I did 72-hour shifts and didn’t sleep for days. I’d look for a place to shower on whatever set I was. It was a very strange and unreal time for me,” she says. Last year was also disappointing at the box office, especially her most recent films, Daawat-E-Ishq (2014) and Kill Dil (2014). Something had to give, and Chopra decided that that something was her insane schedule. She had to make time to fix the things that had been bothering her.

“If you go back and read my interviews from that time, I’ve always said, I hate the way I look, I hate that I’m fat and I really need some time to lose the weight. But at that time I was just put into the ‘curvaceous actress’ slot and that became convenient to report. Now, the same people who used to call me fat and put me on badly dressed lists say that I’m trying to fit in by losing weight. But I can’t be fat, I’m sorry, I’m a mainstream heroine. And I cannot be affected by whether you like that or not.”

Her voice is sometimes brittle as she discusses media scrutiny and the stressful year she’s had, but when you bring up certain other topics, Chopra squeals in delight like the 26-year-old she is. One of those topics is her new house, which she bought earlier this year and spent over eight months decorating. Her pride at owning a home in Mumbai (and forever being rid of landlords) is palpable. This light-filled, sea-facing apartment in Bandra is cosy with comfortable chairs, bright fabrics and bursts of quirk. And about 200 cushions, at last count.

Chopra’s amazing weight loss is another happy development, recent enough that a mention of it produces that adorable yelp of happiness. You should have started the interview with this question, she declares. So how did this transformation happen? “It would have been really easy for me to starve myself and eat bland food to lose weight. But I get bored of a new diet or gym in three days.” To get a professional opinion, Chopra consulted a doctor at an Austrian detox centre. “I was eating healthy but still putting on weight, so someone recommended this doctor. I spent a couple of days there getting blood tests done to figure out which food I’m allergic to. What they do there is completely cleanse and reboot your system. Now I know which foods suit me and which ones are harder to digest (milk, eggs). I plan my meals accordingly. People ask me what I’ve given up eating, and the answer is nothing, I eat everything but I know how to balance it out now.” Alongside the new diet, she also worked on building her strength with Kalaripayattu. Now that the results are so gratifyingly apparent, she’s motivated to start going to the gym again.

Chopra doesn’t come across as someone who ever lacked confidence, but this journey of physical transformation has changed something. “It is so liberating. I can wear the clothes I want, without worrying about tires showing or photographing badly. It was a huge personal victory and it makes me look good on screen — that actually feels almost secondary to me now.”

While it’s true that Chopra cannot, as she points out, please everybody, it’s also true that being part of mainstream Bollywood means she kinda has to. Specifically, she has to please a large movie-going public who have come to love her in certain bold, vivacious roles. Breaking out of that mould can be trickier than giving up dairy. “I do want to do something drastically different from what I’ve done. But it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation: the roles you do on-screen are the kind of roles you keep getting offered. So you have to hope that someone sees something different in you. I played very different roles in Ricky Bahl and Ishaqzaade [2012]. And then Maneesh [Sharma] saw in me the very strong, quiet character I played in Shuddh Desi Romance. But mostly we have to pick from the roles offered to us.” Still, she promises to never lose that flesh-and-blood realness she brings to her characters, the quality that won Chopra the Filmfare Award for Best Debut three years ago. “Being uninhibited and real on screen is something I fight for. I’ve never been the kind of actor who worries about my ‘angles’. When I’m acting, I don’t care.”

Since her surprise entry in films, Chopra has never had a lull. But she’s having one now. Last year was a mixed bag, and she’s announced no new films as of press date. “When I came into the industry, I signed films like a maniac. I thought I should have a list of projects lined up. But that doesn’t work. You should do a film only if it feels right; shoot it, release it, analyse how it does, and only then decide on your next. I have people around me saying different things, there’s advice coming from everywhere. But I know what I want, I’m more sure of myself now.”

A quiet spell is not necessarily a bad thing, but we’re so used to seeing actors in the news whether or not they have a film out, that even a short time off the radar sounds the alarms. “I’m not the kind of person who actively does her own PR or puts out her own news stories. I don’t pretend to be busy if I’m not. I took a small break and I’m back now. But in every actor’s life these news stories come in phases. Last year they were saying I’m one of the busiest actresses around and now it is, she has no films — what’s going on?” That about covers it.

But the time she has right now is a luxury, and she knows it. “Even in the last three years, I’ve noticed a change in how the industry works. Producers and directors have become very cool and they give an actor time to decide whether they want to do a film or not. There’s no massive pressure any more. I like to deliberate over my scripts. I did that for my first few films and I’m doing that again now.”

There is this temptation when it comes to talented young women like Chopra to appropriate their success and see it as something that vindicates us. Secretly, we recruit them to fight for the things we believe in, like substance over style, or content over form. And through the way they look, through their presence on screen, through the roles they play, they give us hope. But we can’t send them to war on our behalf or trap them with the conditions of our approval. Chopra, at least, will be having none of it.

Photographs: Errikos Andreou; Styling: Malini Banerji; Art direction: Reshma Rajiwdekar; Make-up and Hair: Elton Fernandez; Production: Parul Menezes; Assisted by: Akanksha Kamath, Veronna Parikh; Location Courtesy: Tehmi Terrace (Bandra), Mumbai 

2Earlier this year, when speculation was rife on who would replace Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show, comedian Jessica Williams’ name was very popular. So popular, in fact, that when Williams said she felt she wasn’t right for the job, she was attacked by her own supporters. She responded with a tweet: “I am a black woman and I am a feminist and I am so many things. I am truly honoured that people love my work. But I am not yours.”

The same sense of betrayal, for want of a better word, seems to be inspired by Parineeti Chopra after she lost all that weight recently. The winsome brat who charmed us in Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl (2011), the woman who initiated sex and smoked on the toilet in Shuddh Desi Romance (2013), the child-woman who soiled her sari in Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) — would she now be replaced by a Bollywood ‘heroine’? The kind that cares more about her best side and fitting into a designer’s sample size than really committing to character?

“A couple of days ago a journalist said to me, you were known to be this bindaas girl who didn’t really care about her body and now you seem to have succumbed to industry pressure. And it just gave me a perspective on how somebody who doesn’t know me or doesn’t know actors, thinks,” says Chopra. The apprehension is not misplaced, but as with all things showbiz, the level of attention her weight loss received has been bizarre. There are reports that she dropped the kilos by visiting an Austrian detox centre (true), practising Kalaripayattu (partly true) and courting anorexia (not true). We liked you just fine, some of these reports seem to be tut-tutting, so why did you have to go and get all skinny? To that Chopra has much to say, but the gist is: I’m not yours.

See, she never wanted the sweet-cherub tag. It just sort of happened when she was thrust into the spotlight in 2011. A former banker and public relations executive with Yash Raj Films, Chopra was spotted in the manner that all aspiring actors dream of being discovered. Only it wasn’t her dream and everything about those first couple of years was unplanned and maniacal. Feeling like she had to make the most of the momentum she gained after her first two films, she signed on a bunch of projects and endorsements. It was heady, it was exhilarating — and then she stopped sleeping. 

Between 2013 and 2014, Chopra worked on four films back to back, appeared on a reality show and juggled many brand commitments. “I was on set 365 days. I would sleep on flights and be dubbing in the car. I did 72-hour shifts and didn’t sleep for days. I’d look for a place to shower on whatever set I was. It was a very strange and unreal time for me,” she says. Last year was also disappointing at the box office, especially her most recent films, Daawat-E-Ishq (2014) and Kill Dil (2014). Something had to give, and Chopra decided that that something was her insane schedule. She had to make time to fix the things that had been bothering her.

“If you go back and read my interviews from that time, I’ve always said, I hate the way I look, I hate that I’m fat and I really need some time to lose the weight. But at that time I was just put into the ‘curvaceous actress’ slot and that became convenient to report. Now, the same people who used to call me fat and put me on badly dressed lists say that I’m trying to fit in by losing weight. But I can’t be fat, I’m sorry, I’m a mainstream heroine. And I cannot be affected by whether you like that or not.”

Her voice is sometimes brittle as she discusses media scrutiny and the stressful year she’s had, but when you bring up certain other topics, Chopra squeals in delight like the 26-year-old she is. One of those topics is her new house, which she bought earlier this year and spent over eight months decorating. Her pride at owning a home in Mumbai (and forever being rid of landlords) is palpable. This light-filled, sea-facing apartment in Bandra is cosy with comfortable chairs, bright fabrics and bursts of quirk. And about 200 cushions, at last count.

Chopra’s amazing weight loss is another happy development, recent enough that a mention of it produces that adorable yelp of happiness. You should have started the interview with this question, she declares. So how did this transformation happen? “It would have been really easy for me to starve myself and eat bland food to lose weight. But I get bored of a new diet or gym in three days.” To get a professional opinion, Chopra consulted a doctor at an Austrian detox centre. “I was eating healthy but still putting on weight, so someone recommended this doctor. I spent a couple of days there getting blood tests done to figure out which food I’m allergic to. What they do there is completely cleanse and reboot your system. Now I know which foods suit me and which ones are harder to digest (milk, eggs). I plan my meals accordingly. People ask me what I’ve given up eating, and the answer is nothing, I eat everything but I know how to balance it out now.” Alongside the new diet, she also worked on building her strength with Kalaripayattu. Now that the results are so gratifyingly apparent, she’s motivated to start going to the gym again.

Chopra doesn’t come across as someone who ever lacked confidence, but this journey of physical transformation has changed something. “It is so liberating. I can wear the clothes I want, without worrying about tires showing or photographing badly. It was a huge personal victory and it makes me look good on screen — that actually feels almost secondary to me now.”

While it’s true that Chopra cannot, as she points out, please everybody, it’s also true that being part of mainstream Bollywood means she kinda has to. Specifically, she has to please a large movie-going public who have come to love her in certain bold, vivacious roles. Breaking out of that mould can be trickier than giving up dairy. “I do want to do something drastically different from what I’ve done. But it’s a bit of a catch-22 situation: the roles you do on-screen are the kind of roles you keep getting offered. So you have to hope that someone sees something different in you. I played very different roles in Ricky Bahl and Ishaqzaade [2012]. And then Maneesh [Sharma] saw in me the very strong, quiet character I played in Shuddh Desi Romance. But mostly we have to pick from the roles offered to us.” Still, she promises to never lose that flesh-and-blood realness she brings to her characters, the quality that won Chopra the Filmfare Award for Best Debut three years ago. “Being uninhibited and real on screen is something I fight for. I’ve never been the kind of actor who worries about my ‘angles’. When I’m acting, I don’t care.”

Since her surprise entry in films, Chopra has never had a lull. But she’s having one now. Last year was a mixed bag, and she’s announced no new films as of press date. “When I came into the industry, I signed films like a maniac. I thought I should have a list of projects lined up. But that doesn’t work. You should do a film only if it feels right; shoot it, release it, analyse how it does, and only then decide on your next. I have people around me saying different things, there’s advice coming from everywhere. But I know what I want, I’m more sure of myself now.”

A quiet spell is not necessarily a bad thing, but we’re so used to seeing actors in the news whether or not they have a film out, that even a short time off the radar sounds the alarms. “I’m not the kind of person who actively does her own PR or puts out her own news stories. I don’t pretend to be busy if I’m not. I took a small break and I’m back now. But in every actor’s life these news stories come in phases. Last year they were saying I’m one of the busiest actresses around and now it is, she has no films — what’s going on?” That about covers it.

But the time she has right now is a luxury, and she knows it. “Even in the last three years, I’ve noticed a change in how the industry works. Producers and directors have become very cool and they give an actor time to decide whether they want to do a film or not. There’s no massive pressure any more. I like to deliberate over my scripts. I did that for my first few films and I’m doing that again now.”

There is this temptation when it comes to talented young women like Chopra to appropriate their success and see it as something that vindicates us. Secretly, we recruit them to fight for the things we believe in, like substance over style, or content over form. And through the way they look, through their presence on screen, through the roles they play, they give us hope. But we can’t send them to war on our behalf or trap them with the conditions of our approval. Chopra, at least, will be having none of it.

Photographs: Errikos Andreou; Styling: Malini Banerji; Art direction: Reshma Rajiwdekar; Make-up and Hair: Elton Fernandez; Production: Parul Menezes; Assisted by: Akanksha Kamath, Veronna Parikh; Location Courtesy: Tehmi Terrace (Bandra), Mumbai