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Hema Malini: You get more respect as member of Parliament than as an Artiste

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Image source: itimes.com

New Delhi: Bollywood’s evergreen ‘Dreamgirl’ Hema Malini, who became a BJP MP in 2004, says that she got “more respect” as a member of parliament than being an artiste. The veteran actor is also a successful Bharatnatyam dancer.

“You get more respect as a member of parliament. As an artiste, I had my own dignity, but as a politician, it increases… It doesn’t go down,” Hema, who represents the Mathura constituency in Lok Sabha, told reporters in an interview.

Recently, Hema was embroiled in allegations that she had illegally grabbed a plot of land for her dance academy Natyavihar Kalakendra Charity Trust at a nominal price of Rs.70,000 in Mumbai’s Andheri area. But the Padma Shri awardee says the whole hullabaloo happened because she was a BJP MP.

“The Maharashtra government giving me land, created a huge ruckus. Why? Just because I am Hema Malini? I don’t think it’s for Hema Malini… It is because Hema is a BJP member of parliament. This is why it created a problem for people,” Hema said, adding that she had kept herself “very different in the political world”.

On the big screen, she has essayed a range of glamorous as well as non-glam roles, proving her worth as a versatile talent. The 67-year-old has also showcased her proficiency in dance many a time in movies — and always had the aura of a star actor.

But as a politician, she has reached out to bring about the changes that she wishes to see in her constituency.

Often, Bollywood celebrities deliberate upon gender bias in the Hindi film industry. Is the scenario same in the political world?

“I don’t feel any inequality in my political work. To me, I am different, I don’t indulge in small things. So I cannot compare myself to others,” Hema said.

However, she said that inequality in Bollywood is nothing new. Pointing out that Bollywood has always been a male and hero-dominated industry, she explained: “Suddenly these points are coming up about inequality. Bollywood was always been as a male-dominated industry.”

She said that the characters which Dharmendra or other actors portrayed, the heroines could not do. “For a heroine to get the same kind of acknowledgment, it has to be a heroine-oriented film and for men, a hero-dominated film. There is clearly no comparison,” she said.

Dwelling upon the gap in pay for men and women in Hindi films, she said: “Moneywise in those days, the heroes had so much of shooting and so much of work. I don’t think heroines had that much of work. Heroines had a few songs to sing, some nice interesting scenes, and that’s it.”

Nevertheless, the former chairperson of the National Film Development Corporation said there were some exceptions. As an actress, Hema had taken on strong roles in films like “Chaalbaaz”, “Mulzim”, “Satte Pe Satta” and “Sholay”. (Kishor Sud, IANS)

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Surajpal Singh Amu: A case of Fatwa by Hindus?

BJP's Surajpal Singh Amu announced a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead Deepika Padukone and the film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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Padmavati Banner
A man signs a banner during a signature campaign as part of a protest against the release of Bollywood movie "Padmavati" in Kolkata, India, Nov. 22, 2017. VOA

A leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that he would pay a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead an Indian actress and a film director.

Surajpal Singh Amu, a member of the BJP in northern Haryana state, is apparently upset about an upcoming movie, Padmavati, starring actress Deepika Padukone as the 14th-century Hindu queen Padmini.

The movie is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Amu alleged that the movie is misleading, not based on truth and offends Hindu sentiments in the country.

FILE - Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013.
FILE – Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013. VOA

“We will reward the ones beheading them, with 10 crore rupees, and also take care of their family’s needs,” Amu said in an interview with India’s Asia’s Premier News (ANI) earlier this week.

Threats against movie

Amu also vowed not to allow the release of the movie and warned movie theaters to avoid playing the movie or risk being torched.

The movie was set to be released during the first week of December.

Rights activists have reacted strongly to the threats and urged the government to take action.

“This is pretty outrageous that you announce publicly and no action takes place at a time when people are being arrested for most trivial reasons in this country,” Gotum Naulakha, an Indian-based civil liberties activist, told VOA.

A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie "Padmavati" outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017.
A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie “Padmavati” outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017. VOA

An official complaint has been registered against Amu, but many are criticizing the stance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — which controls the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on the matter.

“I’ve not heard any official stance from the central government or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Vinod Sharma, an Indian-based analyst, told VOA.

Anil Jain, a local BJP spokesperson, told ANI that the law applies to everyone in the state of Haryana and no one can threaten others. The central government has yet to react, however.

Bollywood actress Padukone stood her ground and said the movie would be released despite the threats.

“Where have we reached as a nation? We have regressed. The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film,” Padukone told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) last week.

Controversy

Padmavati was controversial right from the start. Opponents of the movie stormed the filming of one scene and destroyed the film sets. They were upset that the director of the movie was distorting facts by alleging romance between the Hindu queen and the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.

Film director Bhansali, however, denies the allegations and maintains the story is based on a Sufi and medieval-era poem written about the Hindu queen. In the poem, the Hindu queen chooses death before the Muslim conqueror could capture her.

Some experts say the poem is centuries old and there is a possibility the Hindu queen might be purely a fictional character found only in folklore.

“There’s a lot of debate in India whether Padmavati was actually a living being many, many years ago or whether she was just an imagined person in a poem,” analyst Sharma said.

Rights activists maintain that if government fails to draw clear lines around the threat made by the politician, and discourage a growing sense of impunity for some, incidents like this will only increase and threaten the freedom of expression in the world’s biggest democracy.

“By letting loose and giving [a] sense of impunity to the goons of the ruling party or people who’re connected or close to the ruling party, we’re paving the ground for much bigger and [worse] things to happen in the near future,” Naulakha told VOA.

The movie is awaiting approval from India’s Central Board of Film Certification.

Written by Madeeha Anwar of VOA.

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Sexual abuse is everywhere in the world, says Radhika

The actress believes that one should know how to say 'No'

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Radhika Apte's view on sexual abuse
Bollywood actress Radhika Apte says that sexual abuse is not only in B-town but in every part of the society. Wikimedia Commons

– Durga Chakravarty

Actress Radhika Apte feels that sexual abuse does not only exist in the world of showbiz but takes place in every alternate household.

“Sexual abuse takes place in every alternate household. So it’s not a part of just the film industry. You have so much child abuse, domestic abuse everywhere in the world, including India,” Radhika told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

She says it exists in “every field and household at some level or the other and that it all needs to be eliminated”.

Sexual abuse does not target just women, stresses Radhika.

“It’s also towards men, little boys and everybody. People exploit their power at every level.”

Radhika asserted that this needed to change.

“I think it starts from us putting our foot down and saying ‘no’ to things, however big your ambition is. You need to be brave about it, believe in your own talent, say ‘no’ and start speaking up because if one person speaks up, nobody is going to listen to him or her. But if 10 people do, then others would (listen to them),” she said.

The “Phobia” actress, who will be seen mentoring budding filmmakers in MTV’s upcoming digital show “Fame-istan”, says there has to be a more organised platform for people to work.

“There has to be more professional platforms as well as rules in place which is slowly happening.”

Sexual abuse has been a topic of debate in Bollywood and Hollywood. Prominent names from the entertainment industry are discussing how men in power take advantage of women in exchange for taking forward their dreams.

The sexual harassment saga started when a media house published a story in October revealing numerous accusations of sexual abuse against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein.

But why are no names taken in the case of casting couch in Bollywood?

“Because of fear, because people who have great ambitions are afraid. They think of what will happen to them if they take somebody’s name who has so much power. That’s what I am saying. Everybody has to speak up,” she added.

Radhika ventured into Bollywood in 2005 with “Vaah! Life Ho Toh Aisi!” and since then has explored genres like thriller, drama and adult comedy with films like “Rakht Charitra”, “Shor in the City”, “Badlapur”, “Parched” and “Hunterrr”.

Was it a conscious decision to act less in commercial entertainers?

Radhika said: “Nothing like that. You have to choose from the work that you have. You can’t say that ‘I want that’ if that’s not been offered to you. So, whatever is offered to you, you choose from that. You make your choice whatever you feel is going to be more challenging or something that inspires you or excites you.”

She says she makes her choices in the “spur of the moment” with whatever she feels intuitively. “I am not a very big planner.” (IANS)

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Sridevi’s daughter Jhanvi Kapoor all set to debut in Bollywood

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Daughter of Sridevi
Jhanvi Kapoor is the daughter of veteran actress Sridevi and Director Boney Kapoor

Radhika Bhirani

“Let me tell you, I feel like a newcomer,” Sridevi asserts, breaking into a giggle almost reminiscent from her ahead-of-times 1991 film “Lamhe”, even as she prepares to let her elder daughter loose in the Bollywood world. She says nothing comes easy in life, and she is sure her Jhanvi is ready to face the challenges.

Jhanvi, who is frequently followed by the paparazzi in Mumbai, will reportedly foray into films with a remake of Marathi hit “Sairat”.

Steering clear of divulging details about Jhanvi’s debut, Sridevi told IANS over phone from Mumbai: “She has chosen this path and profession, and I have been in this industry for long. So I am mentally more prepared than her. She has been watching me, and knows what she is getting into.”

“Nothing is going to be a cakewalk in any profession. So you have to work hard, and there will be challenges. I’m sure she is ready for it.”

The charismatic actress made a powerful comeback of sorts with “Mom” earlier this year — five years after her delightful plain Jane avatar in “English Vinglish”.

As “Mom”, which will soon release in Russia, nears its world television premiere on &Pictures on Saturday, Sridevi — who also has daughter Khushi — spoke about her worries as a parent.

“I’m of course worried when they go out, but luckily, they know their limits and they are very responsible children. When you have responsible children, half the battle is over. So, you don’t have to worry. But you are concerned. The concern will never go, and you’ll always be conscious about them,” said the 54-year-old.

Sridevi has been a big screen delight since her Bollywood debut with the 1978 movie “Solva Sawan”. But acting is something she started when she was all of four. In Hindi cinema, “Himmatwala”, “Mr. India”, “Chandni”, “Sadma”, “Nagina”, “ChaalBaaz”, “Lamhe” and “Khuda Gawah” are some of the films which established her footing as a performer who took woman power seriously.

The trait has continued with “English Vinglish” and “Mom” — in both of which she played the strong role of a mother effectively.

While most women actors in India complain about lack of roles for older actresses, Sridevi retorted: “Let me tell you, I feel that my career has just started, haan (giggles). I feel like a newcomer, and I feel that my career is going to start now. It’s not finished, it’s going to start now.”

She is also unlike many others — even much younger actors — who are putting their life story into books.

“Arre, maine kuch achieve nai kiya (I haven’t achieved anything), where I write about my story or my book. There’s a long way to go. There’s nothing, nothing like this,” she said, sounding almost ignorant, but humble, of the fan followers of her emotive power and fluid dancing skills.

At this point, she is just enthused to deliver more.

“There are definitely two films that are coming up, but it’s too early to talk about it. (There’s) Nothing I can say right now,” she said.

Over the years, Sridevi has not just embraced the changes in Indian cinema, but also opened up herself to an environment where celebrities — as opposed to her own shy self in her earlier days — need to go all out to promote her projects.

“Look, with the time, I have definitely opened up. I am definitely introvert and shy, and have never been rude to… I’ve definitely been shy, but thanks to my children, I have opened up. Somewhere, you have to change with the time.

“You can’t be like what you were… It doesn’t work that way. And do that (change) within your comfort, not by going out of it.”

That besides, she says a positive frame of mind, helps her look forward to what life has to offer.

“Be in a positive frame of mind, be happy, fulfil your goals, work hard… It never goes waste.”