Becoming an actress for me was a happy accident. One thing led to another (because I was always on stage singing & had a pleasant face) and I got picked up to do a TV serial (Chunauti) & then advertisements (Clearasil , Sunrise Coffee, Palmolive soap, Limca blah blah) & then movies (Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naan) etc. This was my ticket to earning money and therefore my freedom.
But ever since I remember all I ever wanted to do was get married & have babies. I even knew I would have a daughter and name her Kaveri, apparently. Since age 10. I knew it even then.
And so I did that. Tried to become the best mother I could be to the most beautiful daughter in the world. And all the time that I nurtured my momma fixation, I recorded and released 5 music albums, had 13 art exhibitions, wrote and released 3 books, travelled the world, climbed some of the world’s highest mountains etc. Now before this starts to sound like a Wikipedia entry I better pick up my thoughts again & come to the point.
The point being that I am making this point because nobody believes that I didn’t have or continue to nurture starry Bollywood aspirations. AT ALL. Nobody believes that I happily gave up a very successful career in the movies while still in my very early twenties & never aspired to a comeback. I don’t crave stardom. As simple as that. I find it a nuisance – not just an invasion but an assault on my privacy. Even the movies I have done in recent years have been with friends where I was offered the part because I suited the character and I had time to spare. I have refused many more films than I have done. But still very few believe that. In fact nobody does.
So while I no longer bother to try & explain my high faluting “I’m a thinking artist stance” I stlll cant help but constantly try and decode the Bollywood obsession India & its people reel under. The almost billion. Residing within & especially outside. Those fortunate enough to not be buried and stifled under this stardust are the ones that left the country in the last 20 years- the 90’s or early 2000’s. They all live in Silicon Valley and make enough money and fame to not have any other aspirations to glamour.
The ones that left earlier in the 70’s and 80’s all live in London and get the Bollywood stars to dance at their weddings & parties. Because these London NRI’s subscribe to Indian newspapers & read about nothing but Bollywood in mainstream media. They believe that Bollywood addiction is a form of patriotism . They abandoned India and made their fortune on foreign shores you see. Now they want to give back to the country, what better way than hawala black money? Forget the starving farming and toilet less villages. Bling is king.
I have gotten used to being accused of being a bitter loser jealous of Bollywood stars because I never made it as an actress (yes these are words I have heard many times before, especially on twitter) when I express myself in a way thats against popular opinion or take a stand against bullshit. How dare a flop actress like you speak against so & so… Just because your Bollywood career didn’t take off and your desperate for attention etc etc.
In spite of everything I have done. Do and continue to do, I cannot ever escape the fact that I have been in the movies. Once a Bollywood face anonymity for the rest of your life is dead. That is the power of Bollywood
Initially it used to perplex me- not upset mind you. Perplex
Because It astounds me that in India Bollywood glamour seems to be the only parameter of feminine achievement. Not The Farah Khan’s or Zoya Akhtars powerhouse mind but the beauty queen, item girl kind. Brain & talent pales before glamour. The fairness cream concept. If Farah can herself joke about herself on a primetime TV show that the one secret people don’t know about her is that she is NOT a man, it speaks volumes no?
Why are there are no real role models for women outside of Bollywood. Miss India’s aspire to Bollywood. Novelists aspire to Bollywood. Nobody wants to be a Barkha Dutt or an Indra Nooyi or Mary Kom. After all if Priyanka didn’t stare about a biopic about the boxer who would know her name? If Barkha Dutt didn’t put herself o TV nobody else would. Sania Mirza earns less for an endorsement than a Katrina Kaif. Rakhi Sawant more for an hour of shaking her booty in a small town performance than an Indian Olympic gold medallist who spent 20 years training mercilessly to earn that gold medal for her country. The media ignores the Olympic gold medallist now living in obscure penury in middle India. So does the Government. Shobhaa De still gets more attention for the cocktail sarees she wears than the fearlessness of her thoughts or writing skills
Media houses & Corporate giants talk about womens emancipation- yet who do they use to sell that concept? A Bollywood star- Deepika Padukone. Nothing wrong with that- I’m a fan. Infact i can confidently say that she probably has a brain and heart bigger than most. But thats not what she’s being payed for.
Remember that shot where she says size 0 or size 15 (or some such) my choice? & in that shot she is looking her skinniest, whats showing most is her bra strap & every real woman in India was left sighing in disappointment yet again? Its makers back thumped themselves & tripped over each other in hearty congratulations in bringing awareness to womens rights & her choice. Did anyone else wonder why of all the 101 women achievers in that film from different walks of life why the public & especially main stream media (MSM) noticed only Deepika? Bollywood fixation ?
Or were her visuals the most sexual? I mean with legs and abs and a face like that, I mean too good ya. Totally jhatak. SO sexy it gave every man watching a libido attack
One tight slap? Really? But the fact of the matter is in India sexuality draws eyeballs and earns much more money than tennis balls or any other professional achievement.
A thumka will always earn more than a thumri.
A palloo fall light up every lower stall . Its natures call.
So innocent ya. So beautiful. Will always keep her coffers full.
But hey not everyone is interested in all that na. A woman is entitled to other ambitions bas kya? Or even having none other than being a fantastic mum?
So before you ask me again how it was working with Shahrukh Khan in Kabhi haan Kabhi Naan and how come I gave it all up blah
Yawn. Yawn. Hmnnn… Yawn. Can I please request you to not bore me ya?
Oh and by the way did I forget to mention the world is a very big place? Have you heard of Kollywood (Tamil cinema) Mollywood (Malayam cinema) Tollywood (telugu cinema)?
Why theres even Zollywood ( Zanzibar) Nollywood (Nigeria) &… what you don’t even know about Hollywood?
Baapre. Get a perspective ya. I really think you should.