A month ago, she was a techie who spent her days writing code. From today, she will be on the small screen, during prime time, entertaining and educating people about body shaming.
Ashwini Radhakrishna, a Bengaluru-based techie, has been chosen to play the lead in the Tamil tele-serial Oru Oorla Oru Rajakumari. The story concerns a young, overweight girl, Rasathi (Ashwini), who battles body-shaming.
"While watching the serial, people will be able to relate to relatives who get taunted at family functions; to friends who get bullied in school; to neighbours who get criticised for their weight. Body shaming has become so ingrained in our culture and psyche that it is almost invisible despite being everywhere," says Ashwini.
She plays Rasathi, 'a sweetheart'. "She is everyone’s favourite in her village. Everybody loves her and wants her around. But… she is overweight, and nobody wants to marry her. People fail to see her for what she is and judge her for her looks. Rasathi is here to change this," she says.
"Through this serial, I want to tell people that it is okay to be overweight; that it’s okay to dream the life you deserve," she adds.
Ashwini notes that throughout the serial, Rasathi stands up for herself and doesn’t let anybody make rules about her body.
On getting chosen to play this role, she says, "People need to learn the message about body shaming from those who know what it feels like. You cannot expect a ‘picture-perfect’ woman to educate about body shaming. I see this as an opportunity to educate people about the psychological costs of body-shaming."
Oru Orula Oru Rajakumari aims to re-define the depiction of beauty in society, spinning the story around a heroine who's known for her wit and presence. Ashwini is happy to have been chosen as the voice to speak about such a social issue. "I hope Rasathi becomes a role model for those who suffer from this problem," she adds.
Personally, Ashwini has never been body-shamed to her face, though she's aware it happens behind her back. "I hope those people learn their lessons from this show," she says.
Oru Oorla Oru Rajakumari is premiering today at 9.30pm on Zee Tamil, and will be aired on weekdays.