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Women go-getters hit Bollywood
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
A striking new phenomenon has hit Bollywood - the media savvy, go-getting woman brigade.
These women know how to push all the right buttons in the media and are constantly in the news, more for their self-marketing prowess than acting skills.
First it was Mallika Sherawat doing the rounds all over the country for "Murder". Then came Isha Koppiker with her titillating "Girlfriend".
Now it's the media friendly Neha Dhupia. The former Miss India has been making her presence felt on every television channel and in every newspaper in town, holding forth on her new film "Julie".
Her earlier release, "Qayamat", did nothing for her career. But "Julie" seems to be fetching the femme fatale the same fling with fame that the southern Indian actress Laxmi got when she performed in a film called "Julie" 30 years ago.
There have been earlier examples of very prominent leading ladies taking on the tart's part. But no one gave the sex worker the legitimacy that Neha has given.
There's a common thread linking all the three new actresses and their respective steamy vehicles -- they are unapologetic about their roles.
While Mallika played a lustful adulteress in "Murder", Isha was an aggressive lesbian in "Girlfriend".
Neha isn't the first actress to play a sex worker. But she's definitely the first one to take on her unconventional role headlong and pitch it with an aplomb that pre-empts all disapproval on moral grounds.
It's interesting to see how the three actresses have made it to the headlines by selling erotica unapologetically.
Mallika was struggling to keep her head afloat when she chanced upon "Murder". Turning the film's startling erotic content to her own advantage, she created the media image of a woman who thoroughly disapproves of prudes and other spoilsports.
The gambit worked. A day after the release of "Murder", Mallika went off-press.
Isha was all over the press espousing the cause of alternate sexuality. The minute the controversies erupted, she backed out, saying it was just a role and she had moved on.
And now, the amount of media coverage Neha has secured for herself and the film is mind-blowing.
Interestingly, her leading men -- Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sanjay Kapoor and Yash Tonk have been completely sidelined. They were not part of the promotional package that took Neha all over the towns and cities of northern India.
The same was largely true of "Murder" and "Girlfriend" where the leading men were totally ignored, so much so that the guys in "Murder" - Emran Hashmi and Ashmit Patel - rose in protest against what they thought was Mallika's monopolistic motivations during "Murder".
Even the directors of "Murder", "Girlfriend" and now "Julie" were reduced to shadowy figures. It was the leading ladies who walked away with the lion's share of publicity.
And why not? Glamour and sex are the two USPs of today's Page 3-motivated media coverage. If today "Julie" looks like an attractive film, the leading lady's powers of press control should be given due credit.