Manisha Koirala’s Bold Stand Against Industry Sexism

Bollywood actress Manisha Koirala, currently enjoying the success of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Heeramandi, recently shared a revealing incident from her early career. In an interview, Koirala recounted a moment when a renowned photographer asked her to pose in a two-piece bikini. “Very early on in my career, I was asked to take photographs with a very famous photographer. I went with my mom, and initially, he praised me as ‘the next superstar.’ Then, he brought out a two-piece bikini and asked me to wear it,” she said. Koirala refused, stating, “Sir, I wear this when I go to the beach or for a swim, but if this is the way I have to get into the movies, I don’t want it, and I am not wearing that.” She insisted on being shot fully clothed, standing firm on her principles.

The photographer responded with a dramatic statement, “‘Jo mitti pighalne se sharmati ho uske murti kaise banaye’ (The clay that refuses to melt, how do I make a statue from it).” This incident left a lasting impression on Koirala, highlighting the pressures and expectations placed on actresses in the industry.

Battling Sexism in the Film Industry

In an interview with Filmfare, Koirala spoke about the sexism that was rampant in the film industry during her early days. She noted, “I faced some flak for it because in those days, the heroes could have many girlfriends and were called macho men, but the actress was supposed to be untouched.” This double standard often led to actresses being unfairly judged for their personal lives. “Just because I have a personal life or a boyfriend doesn’t mean I am going to be unprofessional in my life. I love my work,” Koirala asserted.

Reflecting on her experiences in the 90s, Koirala shared another anecdote from the time of her film Saudagar. She recalled being advised to hide her vodka consumption by saying she was drinking coke. “I told my mom, ‘I am drinking coke,’ and she knew I put vodka in it. She said, ‘Listen, if you are drinking vodka, say you are drinking vodka, don’t lie for such small little things.’” This lesson from her mother reinforced Koirala’s belief in honesty and living life on her own terms. “If I was dating somebody, I am dating somebody. You want to judge me? Go ahead and judge me, but that’s me, this is me and I lead my life on my own terms,” she declared.

Manisha Koirala’s candid revelations shed light on the challenges faced by actresses in Bollywood, underscoring the importance of integrity and self-respect in navigating an industry fraught with sexism and double standards.


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