While Nanjiani underwent a physical transformation to play a superhero in the 2021 film, he had to come to terms with long-standing issues with food consumption.
More from IndieWire
“Growing up, I was kind of brought up to believe that the body was bad, that all desires of the body are bad, that the soul wants good and the body wants bad. So I guess my sense of humor is based on that dichotomy as well,” Nanjiani said. NPR. “So the fact that I didn’t like any physical jokes was because from the time I was a little kid, I was taught to feel ashamed that whatever my body wanted or did.”
The Welcome to Chippendales rep added, “It’s really cruel that we have such restrictions on the amount we can eat because Pakistani food is so delicious. I’ve always had a strange relationship with food. I’ve always felt guilt or remorse associated with it. I’ve always used food.” as a punishment or as a reward.
He continued, “It wasn’t until after I finished ‘Eternals’ that I really began to think about it or try to come to terms with it, because doing ‘Eternals’ brought a lot of those issues to the surface. I then realized I thought about food in a certain way that I needed to explore.” and re-visit it.”
Preparing to play true crime character and male exotic dance club founder Somin “Steve” Banerjee helped Nanjiani do “a lot of that work for me” when it came to addressing food concerns.
He said, “I realized I was being very rigid with food and used it in many unhealthy ways, and then forcing myself to eat unhealthy amounts of unhealthy food somehow got me out of that trap.” , but he was available for months to eat whatever I wanted, to eat as much as I wanted. It kind of liberated me from some of the ways I used to think about food.”
And even after Nanjiani broke the internet by flaunting his rhyming and slashed “Eternals” catchphrase, he didn’t feel “powerful” in his power anymore.
“After that, the result was largely negative. At first, I had this reaction from people — I had never had that reaction before and I think part of me always wanted that — I felt powerful. It felt really exciting,” Nanjiani explained. And then very quickly after that, I felt reduced, and I felt naked, and I felt vulnerable. And I made it so that discussion of my body is in the public domain. It worked so I could walk down the street and someone would come up to me and say something about my body. This still happens all the time. I have a complicated relationship with her. I don’t regret releasing these pictures because they really changed my life. However, I hope it doesn’t take up as much of my head space as it does.”
Gender double standards have not lost Nanjiani.
“I think I understand about 0.0001 percent of what women have been going through their entire lives,” said the Big Sick writer. “The big difference, of course, is that I don’t feel intimidated walking alone in a parking lot at night — you know, that power difference doesn’t exist. Sometimes I feel like I’m with women, or men who talk about it or feel something like owning something that isn’t Theirs. Men are kind of, in a way, taking power away from women in that moment. I don’t have that. When someone makes comments about my body in public, I don’t feel like there’s a power difference there, really. However, that obviously doesn’t It’s still a big part of your look.”
Read Nanjiani’s interview with IndieWire on all things “Welcome to the Chippendales” over here.
The best of IndieWire