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 dazzling at red carpet events, and judging reality shows, actor Malaika Arora is a powerhouse. When it comes to fashion, no one does it better than her. And while one may wonder if it comes naturally to her, Malaika says it is always an extension of the person you are.

Malaika Arora poses for HT City Showstoppers

“Style is something quite intrinsic, either you have it or you don’t. Of course, over time, you can imbibe a bit of style into your life through the influences around you. So, everyone has an inherent unique style, and you have to respect it,” she claims.

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Noting that some people have an effortless style, while others are more deliberate, Malaika describes her style as “a reflection of my personality”. She explains, “My style is easy yet defined. It’s a bit sexy, not too dominating; it helps me embody someone who knows what she wants. My style is never indecisive. I’m very clear about things, and that’s how I am.”

‘I always add a bit of my own touch to my performances’

Regarding her on-screen style, especially in her numerous dance numbers, Malaika considers herself “fortunate” to have been given the freedom to experiment. “While performing a song, your director and choreographers are clear about the concept and expectations. But at the end of the day, I always infuse a bit of my own flair, whether it’s through hair, jewelry, or another element,” shares Malaika, crediting her TV years for shaping her into who she is today.

“I feel MTV was a significant part of my career, providing a platform to experiment, make mistakes, and have fun. I explored a lot during my TV years, which molded my fashion sense and perception of fashion,” reminisces the actor, admitting that she has made fashion missteps along the way, “but that’s part of experimenting and growing up.”

At this stage, the 48-year-old acknowledges that with age, one becomes more “aware and mindful” of their style and dressing. She elaborates, “There’s this term ‘age appropriate’, and everyone faces it at some point. But in the end, you have to be comfortable in your skin and aware of what suits your body. I know my body well. I know which parts I’m not entirely comfortable with, so I wear clothes accordingly. There are days I might feel bloated or out of shape, so I dress to suit my mood and conceal my flaws. I’ve learned this over the years.”

‘I’ve made a career from being criticised and trolled’

Malaika has faced her fair share of trolling for her decisions and personal life. Unfazed by the noise, she quips, “Everyone works hard to establish their brand, and no one seeks shortcuts. Looking at my journey, I’ve built a career from being judged and trolled for my choices, identity, attire, everything. It has been a part of my career, making me immune to it.”

Asked why she usually ignores mean comments on her social media and doesn’t retaliate, Malaika states she prefers to avoid negativity. “I will engage with trolls if I feel it’s necessary, especially if it involves someone close to me. But otherwise, I won’t waste my time, energy, breath, and sanity. It’s not worth it. I have other priorities. I don’t owe explanations to anyone for either my personal or professional life,” says the actor, advising people not to confuse her silence for complacency. “I maintain silence by choice. I don’t want the extra noise. That’s how I keep my peace intact, and I’m happy that way,” she adds.

However, the actor quickly mentions that she judges people who read comments on her posts. “I mean, I read my comments to see what’s written about me. But when others do that, sit and read comments on someone else’s posts, I judge them because I wonder, ‘Don’t you have anything better to do in life?’ I’m genuinely puzzled by those who have the time and energy to read comment after comment, thinking that’s life. There’s so much more to focus on than letting these things affect you,” opines Malaika.

‘I work very hard to build my own brand’

The actor, over the years, has carved a niche for herself with her fashion choices and project selections, believing that brand-building is a continual process. “Now, it’s all about perception and branding. I’ve worked very hard to create a brand for myself. And everyone in the business aims for the same, right? That’s what makes you stand out. The love from fans and the media adds a dimension to the brand we create,” says Malaika, fully aware that not everyone will connect with your beliefs.

“Some people will like you, some won’t, some will adore you. That’s how it is. You have to go with what feels right. People will look up to you or despise you. You can’t please everyone,” she asserts, continuing, “Like it or not, I don’t care. I will dress as I want and present myself the way I like. I’m happy and proud of who I am. I’m very conscious and disciplined. I know what works for me and what doesn’t. I don’t need unsolicited advice from anyone. I don’t have time for it.”

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