Who’s The Sexiest Of Them All?
After one once again went back to a nostalgia trip, and tried taking an overview of the legendary Zohra Segal’s eventful career in Bollywood (she celebrated her 100th birthday some months ago, turning the present audience into peals of laughter with her quick ones), the editor’s missive was, damn it, write about the present-day sexy heroines. One thought of Kareena Kapoor, but where is the fizz and sex left in her after her marriage with Saif Ali Khan. The doll-like conventionally beautiful (though one found the oomph missing) Aishwarya Rai but she has quit the field after adding Bachchan to her name. Preity Zinta? Forgotten, not really as a colleague reprimanded, she has only changed her playing field from Bollywood studios to cricket field, and in the process lost everything: a career, a love interest, and lot of money by betting on the wrong set of players. Sushmita Sen, the 1994 Miss Universe. Perhaps, the most elegant, stylish, glamourous? Indeed, the most sensuous since Parveen Babi. The most proportionately well-endowed girl who could light a thousand candles on the space in the sky. But squandered it all to, reportedly, insatiable libido.
Her now on-now-off relationships taking precedence over what could have been a sensational career; perhaps as many as the years since she won the coveted crown. Out went the relatively unknown Rajat Tara paved the way for a live-in with horror-director Vikram Bhatt (who has shown remarkable zest for sweeping some of his heroines off their feet like his famous uncle, Mahesh Bhatt) only to make a summary exit in favour of short-term stop-overs with hotelier Sanjay Narang, businessman Sameer Bhatia whose mother reportedly presented her with a 10.5 carat diamond ring, art house actor Randeep Hooda, celebrity endorsement manager Manek Banerjee, singer Palash Sen, ex-Pakistani cricketer Wasim Akram, director of her Shah Rukh Khan co-starrer, paradoxically called Dulha Mil Gaya, Mudassar Aziz. Having failed to find what she had wanted from each of them, and found none-of-them capable of what she wanted she has made public her desire to get married at last—whether with the 23-year-old businessman Imtiyaz Khatri. Only three of her 24-starrers in the past 16 years alone have made any dent in the box office. An actress of great potential now searching for embers in her own ashes.
Priyanka Chopra is yet another girl of the same generation whose career seems to have gone downhill despite some great performances with almost all the leading heroes of the day with Shah Rukh Khan seemingly picked up the cake after some of his less famous contemporaries having licked the tempting icing. Let’s take a look at some of the other screen tempestresses who danced Bollywood screens, especially after Meenakshi Sheshadri, Madhuri Dixit and Sridevi settled for their marital wires, and decided to settle for domestic bliss leaving glittering careers behind in the first decade of 21st century. There was Kajol, who still emblazons the screen with her raw charm; cousin Rani Mukherjee is finding better prospects settling down with the unglamourous millionaire successor to a rich legacy, Aditya Chopra.
Who are the others lighting up the Hindi screen either with their presence, sexuality or pure acting talent: Deepika Padukone had a dream debut in Shah Rukh Khan’s home production Om Shanti Om, and since then ten more in six years, but without any earth-shaking performance. Incidentally, her first film was in Kannada, and was interestingly called Aishwarya; Vidya Balan (who has come into major reckoning in the wake of No One Killed Jessica, The Dirty Picture, Kahani) and the latest YRF favourite, Anushka Sharma (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, Band Baajaa Baraat, Jab Tak Hai Jaan); and Katrina Kaif who despite the language disadvantage seems to be living a fantasy having done 18 full-fledged productions, gave guest appearance in six more, and also did two in Telegu (Malliswari, Allari Pidigu) and Balram v/s Taradas in Malayalam, and is reportedly the second highest paid female actor along with Piggy Chops. Every big hero has been trying to rope her in as his heroine. Though known as Salman girl, she has even done a film opposite sworn enemy, Shah Rukh. Asin Thottumkal, a big heroine down South has been knocking at the door of stardom with some laboured performances yet failing to gain a foothold since her Hindi debut opposite none other than Aamir Khan in his home production, Ghajini (she had already worked in 17 successive hits), including three recent back-to-back ones with Salman Khan in Ready, Akshay Kumar in Houseful 2, and Ajay Devgn and Abhisekh Bachchan in Bol Bachchan. Her next big starrer that might help her find a place in B-Town is Akshay Kumar’s Khiladi 786. At a time when the aging hero-brigade is desperately looking for newer and younger female co-stars, the focus has once again moved to south for fresh imports. They may not have made a great mark in their respective first box office runs, being talented and experienced ones they are sure to usurp a place with time.
Trisha Krishnan made a sensational debut in Khatta-Meetha co-starring Akshay Kumar; Ileana D’Cruz paired well with Ranbir Kapoor in Barfi; Genelia D’Souza (if she chooses to work again after marriage to Ritesh Deshmukh); Kaajal Agarwal, a welcome relief in the otherwise loud and melodramatic Singham. Her charming smile, screen presence, spot-on dialogue delivery as well as coming time should find her a quick acceptance with the Hindi audiences. Just the luck seems to have been bestowed in plenty on the tall, buxom Sonakshi Sinha, also benefitted with the home advantage. Besides, goodwill successive hits with Salman Khan in Dabangg; and now soon its sequel, following it up in quick succession opposite Akshay Kumar in Rowdy Rathore, and the super flop Joker; Ajay Devgn’s Son of Sardar, and under production Lootera (with newcomer Ranveer Singh), Once Upon A Time Again (Akshay Kumar and Imraan Khan), Bullet Raja (Saif Ali Kan), an out-and-out gangster flick directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia, and apart from Prabhu Deva-directed Namak opposite Shahid Kapoor, she has also been signed for Sajid Nadiadwala’s Judwaa 2—all that makes her current Bollywood flavour.
Much has changed in Bollywood in the past decade—what used to be the terrain of the vamps has been taken over by the heroines themselves, even if it is a glorified appearance for a skin-showing raunchy ‘item’ number. Not that she had much to do even earlier in a mainstream Hindi film, and disrobing much more substantial, even the status of the heroine, despite occasional brave attempts like No One Killed Jessica or Kahani, the space for the heroine will merge with the earlier glorified sidekicks. Take a closer look at Sonakshi’s, who currently seems to be the flavour, and what she is doing is a pointer to the role of the heroine.
By Suresh Kohli