Bollywood starlets head for Nepal to chill out
Today Nepal has become the hottest destination for Bollywood starlets wanting to mix business with pleasure.
By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS
Upcoming performers who start their careers in the Hindi film industry by doing dance numbers in films or music videos - "item girls" in Bollywood parlance - are now becoming part of Kathmandu's entertainment scenario as well.
There can't be a better example than the current year. It was ushered in at two of Nepal's upscale casinos by a dance extravaganza led by Meghna Naidu, better known as the "Kaliyon ki Chaman" girl after her sizzling dance number in the same song.
It was not the dusky actress' first foray into Nepal. She had come here to perform earlier also, at the Dasarath Stadium where a packed crowd braved a drizzle to sway with her.
Kathmandu-based DJ Raju Singh, whose event management company DMI had
organised Meghna's trip, will bring another starlet, Kaamna, to ring out the old year and ring in 2005 in the same casinos in December.
Kaamna, though yet to make her entry in films, is already a known face in India and Nepal, thanks to her "Chhor do Aanchal" music video number shown regularly on MTV and Channel V.
Item girls are a regular at Galaxy, the all-night disco at Kathmandu's
five-star Everest Hotel. Galaxy's resident DJ Ankit attributes the girls' popularity in Nepal to the disco goer's passion for dancing.
"People come to the disco to dance," he says. "They like to dance with
people whom they associate with foot-tapping numbers on MTV or Channel V.
"As for the girls themselves, they come here to chill out. Life is hectic in India while Nepal offers beauty and bliss. The girls are treated like royalty and taken sight-seeing to scenic spots like Pokhara."
The occasional Maoist extremist violence, he says, is no deterrent. "The unrest lasts for a day or two," he says. "After that, it's business as usual."
This year, the hip crowd going to Galaxy boogied with model-turned VJ-turned-choreographer-turned actress Achla Sachdev, whom the theatre goer remembers for her dance numbers rather than her nondescript bit parts in movies like Meera Nair's "Kamasutra".
After Achla, there was Rakhi Sawant, who made a mark with her dance number in the Shah Rukh Khan starrer "Main Hoon Na" followed this month by Mahek, who gave Bollywood leading lady Kareena Kapoor a run for her money with her nifty little number in "Chameli".
When Dabur Nepal decided to start an annual award ceremony for the Nepalese film industry, it was once again Bollywood's Kashmira Shah who was invited to be the star performer along with Nepalese actor Rajesh Hamal.
Galaxy hopes to pull off a major coup in November when the original item girl, model cum VJ Malaika Arora, will perform there.
It's good business for the girls too, says Raju Singh. "There is a large market for the songs and the music videos in Nepal as well," he says.
"The cassettes and CDs are released here within a week of the premiere in India. For the girls, the more they travel, the more visibility they get and the better it is for business."
However, he has a note of warning.
"The numbers are losing their class and charm," Raju Singh says. "These days they are being churned out as if from a factory. Instead of performance and substance, the emphasis is on physical appearance. This may lead to over-exposure."