Soha Ali Khan is in a sizzling avatar on the cover of Maxim India. The actor who rarely dresses sexy has donned a swimsuit for the photoshoot. Soha is someone who has strong opinions and has never been afraid to voice them. In the accompanying interview, she talks about her views on women dressing provocatively, about sex-appeal and women being objectified. Read on for excerpts from the Maxim interview…
Do you think the definition of ‘sexy’ has evolved?
Women today are perhaps more comfortable with their bodies onscreen — I remember reading a whole article about the Great Indian White Bra of the 1970s and ’80s… censorship rules did not and still do not allow for nudity in cinema and so the bra had huge symbolic importance. The villain would lunge for the woman’s blouse in a dastardly attempt to rob her of her virtue, revealing ‘the white bra’. But that’s as far as it went and the rest was left to imagination. Today, when I glance at magazine covers, film posters and watch movie songs, it is quite the norm to see bikini-clad women or women in more revealing attire. It’s no longer on the fringes or an act of rebellion, it’s quite mainstream. And a woman in lingerie is seen not as a victim who’s been forcefully disrobed, but as a confident woman who chooses to dress a particular way because she wants to. To be sexy no longer carries any negative connotations. Having said that, sex appeal doesn’t have to be in your face or obvious, it can be subtle and disarming as well. Madhubala could make a man swoon with the raise of an eyebrow, Meena Kumari with her breathy dialogue delivery. Every woman has sex appeal, she just needs to discover where hers lies and how to use it responsibly!
There’s this flogged debate of women being ‘objectified’ in movies, magazines, etc. Is it just a matter of perception?
Of course, a woman can be objectified and exploited, just as a man can be — magazines, videos and movies have been guilty of that but that’s not to say every time a woman sheds some clothes or does a sexy shoot she’s being exploited. She often chooses to do so because she enjoys being sexy and would like to share that aspect of her complex personality with others who have labelled her or put her in a box. Or, sometimes, it isn’t a political statement at all, just a bit of fun, which she is entitled to. It is only the woman herself who can determine if she’s empowered or not… if she truly chooses to or she is under some kind of pressure. Everyone draws their own line in the sand and I have mine. I may re-draw that line because I’m flexible and open to change, and I’m not accountable to anyone but myself for where that line is, as long as it’s on the right side of the law!