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The rise and fall of Mallika Sherawat
By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
A day before the release of her new film "Kis Kis Ki Kismet," Mallika Sherawat came on TV to announce, "I'm coming this Dussehra to set the screen on fire."
Well, the fire engines are still waiting. By all reckoning, Mallika Sherawat's climb to the top and fall from grace has been the fastest process of stardom and exile ever seen in Bollywood.
Within a few months of the release of her star-making vehicle "Murder", Mallika has systematically eradicated all chances of being a screen queen.
Her first post-"Murder" release "Kis Kis Ki Kismet" didn't even get a decent release in spite of considerable skin display.
"Maybe that's the whole problem," sniggers an unnamed filmmaker. "Mallika is a perfect example of too much too soon. The amount of notoriety she acquired after 'Khwahish' and 'Murder', the disproportionate amount of skin display and most damaging, her tall claims and her constant tongue-lashing about every sacred cow, both human and institutional, made her a persona non grata."
The Hindi film industry can forgive an exhibitionist. But not a braggart.
Most trade experts see Mallika as an extension of Mamta Kulkarni who, a decade ago, made a career for herself lambasting all her colleagues from Manisha Koirala to Karisma Kapoor and by shedding as many clothes as possible.
Mamta Kulkarni created an uproar among moralists by posing topless for Stardust magazine and later dancing live for Lalu Prasad and his coterie in Ranchi. She vanished soon after. No one knows where she is today.
Mallika's attempts to shock conservative elements have now begun to appear strained and redundant. Her constant refusal to respect certain basic standards of decency has raised the hackles of the entire industry.
Today she has no assignments on the floors besides her "Khwahish"-"Kis Kis Ki Kismet" director Govind Menon's next where she shares the marquee with Rekha.
With "Kis Kis..." kissing the dust, would there be any takers for a Sherawat-Rekha starrer? Extremely doubtful.
a href="/download/wallpaper/movies/k4.asp">A more important question. Since shedding clothes was her primary claim to fame, how does Mallika get out of the skin trap? Indications are, audiences are satiated with sleaze and cheesecake. At least five major filmmakers in Bollywood are planning to make romantic films about innocent sexless love.
Needless to add, none of them intends to cast Mallika.
So where does she go from here?
Actually the situation isn't as grim as it seems. Even her worst detractor agrees that Mallika Sherawat has style and sensuality. All she needs is to get away from her constant obsession with showing her body and flaunting her outspoken attitude, and to focus a bit on other talents she may or may not possess.
The world's sexiest actresses from Sophia Loren to Raquel Welch, from Sharmila Tagore to Zeenat Aman have finally come into their own as actresses.
If Mallika Sherawat can act with more than just her body, chances are she can reinvent herself. But for that she needs to stop treating the audience as a sex-starved mass of male predators. She must win over the women and family audiences.
That's where Aishwarya Rai has always scored over Sushmita Sen.