Sanam Jung’s role in Pyari Mona has been in the limelight for the last few months. The serial revolves around a plus-sized woman who has a hard time meeting society’s conventional standards of beauty.
In a recent interview with BBC Urdu, Jung talked about how relatable Mona’s character is for people everywhere, even celebrities.
“Celebrities are expected to look stunning all the time and they should since it’s a part of their job,” the Dil-e-Muztar actor said in the interview. “I never see oversized actors onscreen. It has more to do with our industry as it’s still evolving. Having a skinny body makes it easier for you to enter showbiz because it fits the ideal vision of beauty and makes everyone happy as well. It’s also incredibly difficult for a healthier person to get styled in our business.”
Jung then went on to detail how Pyari Mona stands out from the rest of the dramas on television. She said, “Pyari Mona does not follow the tropes of mainstream television. Nothing that involves people falling in love, or cheating on each other, nor does it focus on mothers rejecting their son’s true love or getting their children married without consent. Pyari Mona focuses on mental health, depression and body positivity.”
The actor was happy to notice that the audience has managed to forge a personal relationship with her latest offering. “I know so many people who have come up to me and said, ‘Sanam, this is my story’. Even today I visited a salon and a girl there stopped me and said, ‘Thankyou for doing this show, Sanam, this is my story’. Everyone is relating to it and I love it!”
Upon being asked why she rejected the script when it was initially offered, the former Jago Pakistan Jago host explained that she was unsure about the public’s response to her character.
“It was the second time that I realised that this is my story and I’ve been through it. I haven’t experienced what Mona did with her own family but the other struggles she faced in society are quite relatable for me. I also realised by this point that like me, many individuals might have gone through the same trauma Mona did,” she shared.
The Alvida actor recalled how she too faced criticism for putting on weight after the birth of her child. “I gained a lot of weight after having my daughter Alaya. And of course, I didn’t stop working after her birth and was still recording my show every day. So, whenever the pictures of my show were posted on social media, the comment sections would get flooded by derogatory taunts like, ‘Cow’, ‘Buffalo,’ or ‘Fat’. Many people even told me to stop working and leave the entertainment industry because of my body.”
Eventually, the remarks about her body weight drove her into depression. “I used to wonder about such comments and how they expect me to leave my job. I understood I work onscreen, but what about the individuals in offices, should they leave their jobs too just because they’re fat? Should all overweight people just live hidden inside their homes? These thoughts used to make me really depressed,” the starlet said.
Before concluding the conversation, Jung mentioned her husband who helped her gain confidence in herself. “I got upset to the point that I told my husband I am quitting. I also hinted to my boss that I don’t feel the same about being on screen. I was embarrassed because of the way I looked and I don’t think anyone else should hold that power to make you feel embarrassed and insecure. In response to my restlessness, my husband told me, ‘You are not the first woman to give birth, it happens, and bodies change with time. You can get back in shape too, just be confident in your own shoes as you’re beautiful.
Setting the record straight
During the interview, Jung also clarified many speculations about Pyari Mona. The first was about her ‘fat suit’ for which the star landed in a heated controversy back in November 2022. Taking the chance, Jung explained how she never wore a fat suit and in fact, gained weight for this project. “Okay, so when I accepted the role for Mona, I was asked to gain 20 kilos and at first I said no, but then I realised that it was important for me to gain weight. We did have a body suit made of cotton but it didn’t fit me right. So I gained 5 kilos instead, then a few more until my director was satisfied with Moná’s look,” Jung clarified.
She also stated that Pyari Mona does not enable the stigma associated with marrying single parents. “The show doesn’t vilify anyone but explains Mona’s character in detail. Her family didn’t even make an effort to find a suitable spouse for her. They just found a single father and presented him to her as the only option and that was what Mona took as an offence. It has nothing to do with the taboo, but the character’s situation,” Sanam explained.
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