Malaika Arora on being immune to trolling: I’ve made a career out of being criticised for my choices and for who I am

From being the iconic Chaiyya Chaiyya girl to slaying it at the red carpets, and reality shows she judges, actor Malaika Arora is a force to reckon with. When it comes to style, nobody does it better than her. And while one wonders if it comes naturally to her, Malaika says it is always an extension of the person that you are.

Malaika Arora poses for HT City Showstoppers
Malaika Arora poses for HT City Showstoppers

“Style is something pretty inherent, either you have it or you don’t. Of course, along the way you can inculcate a little bit of style into your life because of the things around you, which kind of influence you in a certain way. So, everyone has an inherent personal style, and you have to hold it,” she says.

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Stating that some are effortless, some are a more organic, some put in a little more effort into their personal style, Malaika calls hers “a reflection of my personality”. She elaborates, “My style is easy yet there’s a sense of being very definitive. It’s a little sexy, not very bossy; it helps me embody someone who knows what she wants. My style is never wishy-washy or confused. It’s never neither here nor there. I’m very clear about things, and that’s how I am.”

‘I always bring a little bit of my own touch to my songs’

Even when it comes to her style on screen, with several dance numbers to her credit, Malaika calls herself “fortunate” that she has always got a freehand to experiment while doing those sequences. “While doing a song, your director and your choreographers are very clear about the mood board and what they want out of you. But at the end of the day, I always bring a little bit of my own touch, whatever it may be, whether it’s in terms of hair, jewellery or some other element,” shares Malaika, crediting her TV days for shaping her into the person she is today.

“I feel MTV was a very big part of my years of working where I kind of played around, made mistakes and had lots of fun. I did all of that in my TV years and it gave me that scope to do that and that really molded my way of fashion or how I perceive fashion,” recalls the actor, confessing that there are times she has committed fashion blunders, “but that’s a part and parcel of experimenting and growing up.”

At this point, the 48-year-old acknowledges that with age, one becomes more “aware and conscious” of their style and how they dress. She elucidates, “There’s this term ‘age appropriate’, and everybody is subjected to it at some point in their life. But again, in the end, you have to learn be comfortable in your skin and be aware of what looks good on your body and what doesn’t. And I’d say I fairly know my body. I know exactly the parts which I’m not very comfortable with, so I wear clothes which will hide them. There are days I’m bloated, or feeling out of shape, so you should just dress according to your mood and while knowing your flaws. I’ve learned that over the years.”

‘I’ve made a career out of being criticised and trolled’

That being said, Malaika has been through her fair share of trolling for her choices and whatever she does in her personal life. Unperturbed by all the noise, she quips, “Everybody works very hard and puts in loads of efforts to make their brand, and nobody is looking for a short cut. But, if you see my entire trajectory, I’ve made a career out of being criticised and trolled for my choices, for the person that I am, what I wear, for everything. So, it has been a part of my entire career, and hence, I’m very I’m immune to it.”

Asked why she chooses to mostly ignore nasty comments on her social media posts and never give it back to trolls, and Malaika states that she prefers to stay away from all the negativity. “I will engage with them (trolls) the day I feel that it needs to be addressed and if I feel somebody is going after someone close to me or my near ones or dear ones, my loved ones. Then of course it requires me to stand up and say something, otherwise, I won’t waste my time, energy, my breath and my sanity. I don’t think it’s worth it. I’ve got other things to do and worry about. I don’t need to justify anything to anyone whether it’s my personal or professional life; I don’t owe anybody an explanation,” says the actor, urging people to not mistake her silence for being complacent. “I maintain a certain level of silence because I choose to be like that. I don’t like and want that extra noise. That’s how I keep my sanctity intact, and I’m happy like that,” she adds.

However, the actor is quick to share that she actually judges people who sit and read comments on her posts. “I mean, I will read my own comments and see what’s written about me. But when others do that, sit back and read somebody else’s comments, I genuinely judge them because I’m like, ‘Don’t you have anything better to do in life?’ I really wonder how these people have the time and the energy to sit down and read, comments after comments and actually think that is what life is all about. There’s a lot more to focus on in life and not let these things get the better of you,” opines Malaika.

‘I work very heard to build my own brand’

The actor, who over the years, has formed a niche for herself be in the kind of fashion choices she makes or the projects she chooses to associate herself with, believes that building your own brand is a continuous process.

“Well, now it’s all about perception and branding. And I have worked really hard to create a brand for myself. And everyone in the business is aiming for the same, isn’t it? That’s what make you stand out. And it’s all because of the love from fans and the media that adds a dimension to the brand we create,” says Malaika, fully aware that not everyone will resonate with your belief system.

“Some people will like you, some people won’t, some people will adore you. But then, that’s how it is. You have to go with what you feel is fine at the end of the day. People will look up to you, they will like you for being a certain way, and some will despise you for whatever it is. But then you can’t please everybody,” she asserts, and continues, “You like it, or you don’t like it, I don’t care. I will dress the way I want, and look the way I like. I’m very happy and proud of the way I am. I am very conscious and disciplined as a person. I know what works for me and what doesn’t? So, I don’t need a third person giving me their unsolicited advice. I really don’t have time for it.”

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