Has Mallika taken over from Bipasha?
Notice how suddenly Bipasha Basu is no longer the only actress playing the bold woman in Bollywood?
She triggered off the present day sexual revolution in mainstream Hindi cinema when she played the wanton heroine cheating on her husband in "Jism" two years ago.
But now, within two years, Basu's seems pass?, thanks to the surfeit of actresses who have taken to plunging necklines and morals in recent films. Bipasha herself jokingly admitted she had begun to feel slightly out of step.
The arrival of bolder girls, particularly Mallika Sherawat, has certainly turned the voyeurs' attentions away from Bipasha. On top of it, Bipasha's films like "Ishq Hai Tumse" and "Rudraksh", on which she was banking to build her fan following, have bombed miserably.
Mallika arrived six months after "Jism" in "Khwahish", uninhibited and ready to bare her skin to the permissible limit.
Though "Khwahish" didn't work as well as "Jism" at the box office and though its leading man Himanshu Malik didn't benefit the least, Mallika shot into fame.
While Bipasha came across as outspoken but conservative in her interviews, Mallika's attitude in the press was refreshingly in-your- face.
She marketed herself as a diva with spunk and got herself written about in every newspaper and seen on every channel. But Mallika denies a marketing strategy in her career.
"It's all destiny and hard work. I've slogged like crazy to get where I am. And those who think it's just my body that got me where I am, they should take a look at the others who have rushed in after me. They haven't gone beyond their first feverish film."
Both Bipasha and Mallika feel there's a need to go beyond the flesh to be a long-lasting actress.
There are plenty of examples of actresses who made a strong impact in their debut through skin show.
In the early 1970s, Rehana Sultan made a huge impact in "Chetna" and "Dastak" in roles that required her to shed her clothes on camera. She got branded as an on-screen libertine and then vanished in spite of winning the National Award for best actress.
Mumtaz would have remained an oomph girl if she hadn't graduated to performing roles in the later part of her career. The only oomph girl who acquired stardom was Zeenat Aman. In films like "Qurbani" and "Satyam Shivum Sunderam", she went much further in the clothes-shedding binge than Bipasha or Mallika.
Can Bipasha and Mallika, seen as the new-millennium Zeenat Aman and Parveen Babi, reinvent their image and career?