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Masala Reviews: Double XL

by Shradha Aswani

The size that doesn’t fit any!

By Shradha Aswani

I have always found my comfort in movies. Whether it was flunking an exam or getting over a heartbreak, cinema has always helped me find refuge. So when I saw the trailer of Double XL (2023), Satramm Ramani’s comedy featuring talented actresses like Huma Qureshi and Sonakshi Sinha, I was expecting to finally be understood as a plus-size individual, even if by people on the other side of the screen. Unfortunately, the story didn’t realise that the issue it was trying to address, much like its lead characters, had more to it than just size.

The movie chooses characters at two ends of a spectrum, one from a small town in UP; and other from the nation’s capital. One unwomanly by societal standards, interested in being a sports presenter; while the other at the heart of supposedly the only career women can fare well in – fashion, apart from cooking of course. One protected, living with parents, worried about when and whom she will marry; and the other ripped of all emotional privilege, cheated upon by a man she considered to be the love of her life.

Seems like a good start, doesn’t it? It did to me at least. I was excited to see how the director follows these characters. I thought I would see them battling the vulnerabilities that I face after I have bravely fought with the world. I thought that when they looked into the mirror, the narrative will reflect the helplessness of being able to see only flaws in yourself. I thought that for once, someone will be able to get that your appearance goes beyond your relationship with food, and people who are overweight are neither eternally starved, nor perpetually hungry.

As always, my expectations set me up for disappointment. I couldn’t believe that the film was actually made by actors and a director who have faced the brunt of body-shaming all their life. The plot was stereotypical, the writing shoddy, and music fairly forgettable. The only conflict in their life was their appearance, the impact of which is all set to be erased by angelic men, acceptance by whom magically erases all of their problems, quite literally.

Clearly, I was looking for too much. I went in with the hope to find acceptance for my body type, wanting to be infused with the courage it takes to embrace oneself as is. Post watching the film, I am not just angry. I am convinced that much like the film, the world will continue to be blind to my experience, setting me up to wait for a stranger to walk in and fix my complexes. The only thing I got out of it was the superficial empathy they have for me, advice irrelevant to me, and an assumption that stress-eating is the only thing that leads one to the eternally dark side of a weighing scale.

If you have mastered coping mechanisms like I have, it will be completely clear to you why I think that it’s counterproductive to make these farcical representations of very real problems. And I hope that you make better life decisions than wasting time on it.

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