Sameera Reddy: I asked myself, will Karan Johar like me?
Pregnant for the second time, actress Sameera Reddy gets candid about the time she was 102 kg, refusing to leave her couch, and worried about 'fitting in'
Last week, actress Sameera Reddy, only two months old on the social media platform, put up an Instagram post that has since gone viral. It shows her in her June 2015 avatar, at 102 kg, and then compares it to a picture from last month, where she is down to 80 kg and second-time pregnant. "That post, and the love it got, has given me the courage to do this interview," says the actress, who shot to fame in 1998, with Pankaj Udhas' video for the song Aahista Kijiye Baatein.
She then did movies like Maine Dil Tujhko Diya and Race. Five years ago, she got married to entrepreneur Akshai Varde, and had her first child, son Hans, in 2015. "I got on Instagram and decided that the first thing I will be is honest. I will be fat if I have to be, and use no filters. I feel bad for all the people, including me, feeling FOMO at other people's lives where it's all cool parties and pina coladas on the beach. I want to call that out and say 'that's bull****'."
She may sound like a voice of reason, but Reddy says it has taken her a while to get here, and it's been hell. When we meet her at her home, she is glowing and doesn't mince her words as she chats with us. For a year post her son being born, she didn't let her family take pictures of her as she was 102 kg. The picture on Instagram is the one surviving picture from that time. Pre-pregnancy, she got prolactinoma - high levels of prolactin - that makes it harder to have babies, which led to her popping pills. Post getting pregnant, she got placenta previa - when a baby's placenta partially or totally covers the mother's cervix. "My weight had always been 70 to 75 kg, as I am Reddy girl, tall with heavy bones. Imagine my shock, when during my first pregnancy, I became 102 kg, which didn't even come off once I had the baby." It was a time of anxiety, and fear. "I went through a really dark place. Especially once the comments started coming in. People would come home and ask me, 'arrey aap ko kya ho gaya'. I took Hans in a pram to Joggers Park, and that was the first and last time I went in that year. Random people came up to me and said, 'oh you are Sameera Reddy, we can't recognise you. This house became my fortress."
For the ambitious and upbeat working girl, who was making all the right moves in her career at the time, the world was suddenly a bleak place. Reddy recalls struggling to keep her weight down during her career, and blames the constant dieting and working out for the problems she faced during her first pregnancy. But it's the mental demons that were the real challenge.
"I had thought I would be the glamorous mother, and come back in the limelight. My whole vision went for a toss. I bought into the yummy mummy dream - the glamorous Instagram mommy. I was just a career girl who caved to the into the pressures of keeping up the image." The final straw was when she got alopecia areata, an auto-immune disease that led to her hair falling in clumps. "I had a meltdown. I turned to homeopathy and counselling, I had to talk to someone. I had gone from being an actress receiving all this adulation to having no self worth. I realised how superficial I had been to begin with. I had been in such a vicious cycle - eating lesser, running, thinking of this bag, that stylist, asking questions like 'am I on the best dressed list?'; 'Am I invited to this party?', 'Does Karan Johar like me?'. I wanted to be with the IT crowd, and I was there, schmoozing, and then I just cut off."
But once the switch turned, thanks to yoga, pilates, and the support of her family, Reddy started feeling like herself again - actually, a better version. "I can look at this objectively now, and, it's superb. I was an empty shell, which could be knocked down if something happened, and this whole experience has helped me reinvent myself. I am not because you think am great, I am because I am and I am awesome." As she gets into the seventh month of her pregnancy, she says she isn't worried that it all may happen again. The past has prepared her well for the future. "My husband asked me if I really wanted to do this again. I told him 'I am fearless today'. I have owned this pregnancy, enjoyed it. I have taken no injections, and I do yoga. I have also tackled my own fears, which makes me come from a place where I am extremely bold. It's all going to be ok."
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A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli