Ash the ultimate icon to follow for Bollywood heroines?

Like Mrs Bachchan, actresses like Shilpa Shetty are weighing out their career options outside the Hindi film industry frame

From brand endorsements to taking on humanitarian roles, the new, chubby mommies in B-town are focusing less on the weighing scale and more on building their market value in an industry that doesn’t take too kindly to weight gain.

Instead of turning stay-at-home moms till they have shed the extra kilos, which is what most actresses did before, Shilpa, like Ash, isn’t shying away from flaunting her curves.

“Currently, losing weight is not a priority,” Shilpa Shetty announced to the Indian media. “Wearing loose clothes is one way to camouflage fat and look good.”

Acting, she insisted, has taken a backseat, with her spa and production house taking priority. She’s also bagged an endorsement deal with Olay, just like how Ash did for Kalyan jewelers.

Brand endorsements are the best way to stay in the glamour industry without breaking into a sweat. “They can remain in the spotlight… devote a day or two for the shoot, and then it’s pack-up,” added adman Nischal. “They also get a hefty cheque.”

Shilpa has also joined forces with husband Raj Kundra to produce a reality telly show, targeted specifically at sports.

Although Ash took the brunt of the weight-watchers debate, she has re-surfaced unscathed, with a brand new role as UN Goodwill Ambassador.

“At the event, she confidently carried off a short, Gucci outfit without attempting to cover-up,” noted a Mumbai-based magazine writer. “It was a clear message to all those who criticized her for being out of shape.”

Earlier in the year, many had speculated whether she’d skip the Cannes red carpet but she sprung a surprise by parading her new body in designer spunk.

 "Some criticized her boldness, some didn’t. So, it was a win-win for her,” analysed a celebrity blogger.

Ash is known to be a marketing genius, and with the weighing scale not tipping in her favour, she has brilliantly tweaked the showbiz strategy to fit her new-look in.

What if there are no film offers, she’s happy to endorse brands and take on social work.

While Shilpa has taken a cue from Ash, another new mom Lara Dutta is unsure of how to work her way through to the spotlight.

She took on some strange assignments, like promoting an already popular UK telly show, listing out movies she’d like to watch, and waxing eloquence about Ranbir’s ‘Barfi!’.

But among the three, she was more forthcoming in her desire to slim down.

“Post pregnancy weight doesn't reduce overnight and it takes a dedicated routine to lose the weight put on. I watched what I ate and worked out 4-5 days in a week after the initial six months post Saira's birth,” she had told a famed Indian daily. She is also gearing up to don the greasepaint for Bijoy Nambiar’s ‘David’.

Bollywood frames are unaccommodating towards overweight actors, refusing to fit them in.

Although there have been exceptions to the rule, what with Vidya Balan and Sonakshi Sinha doing a great job in their rounded frames, B-town has fairly remained intolerant towards weight gain.

No leading actor or actress is allowed to feature a bulging belly or bloated face. Period.

They are ordered to tone up, with the men asked to chiselle out a six- or eight-pack, and the women to slink into a size-zero or thereabouts.

The chubsters, if any, are reserved mainly for the quirky side-kicks. From the roly-poly best bud in ‘Wake up Sid’ to the laugh riot TunTun of yesteryear, to food-obsessed ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’s Sweetu Kapoor, they have been allowed only to tickle.

Even the newcomers take to rigorous fitness regiments before stepping into the industry. Star-kids (and cousins) Arjun and Sonam Kapoor, and Sonakshi Sinha are examples of how they’ve cut out the flabs for an acting career.

There’s also Bengali bombshell Bipasha Basu, who received flak for bloating up, but then quickly tipped the scales in her favour by turning fitness DVDs into a side-business.

However, the three new mommies are slowly, but surely, brining about a healthy trend in B-town.

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