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'Kaliyon ki chaman' girl ready to bond with Band of Boys

By Sudeshna Sarkar, IANS

Kathmandu, Jan 4 (IANS) It is freezing in Kathmandu and yet Meghna Naidu didn't think anything about doing two dance numbers at Everest Casino on New Year's Eve and then rushing to yet another one - Casino Royale from where incidentally Charles Sobhraj was arrested last year - to perform two more.

"I have just bought a new house in Mumbai," she says with pride. "This is the time when I can work, work and work --- and pay off all my loans."

This is the Vijayawada-born starlet's third trip to Nepal, where her fame rests not on the four films in which she has acted so far but the scintillating music video "Kaliyon ka chaman", which shot her into limelight overnight as the new 'item girl'.

An 'item girl', in Bollywood parlance, is the character in a Hindi film who is signed up to do one dance sequence which goes on to become a rage and makes the film a smash hit at the box office.

Meghna has a place in the history of showbiz as the longest surviving "item girl" whose music video has remained popular for nearly two years when the average time span for such numbers is about six months.

Meghna, who started out as a tennis player, says she herself is surprised at all the attention.

"On the day the video was released, an American band did an English version of the song on TV," she says. "When I saw it, I was upset for days thinking that after seeing that no one would care for the Hindi version. To my amazement, people actually liked it."

Now the girl conjectured to be doing a lesbian act in her debut Hindi movie is planning to hitch up with India's first boy band.

The Mumbai-based A Band of Boys, comprising new talents Sudhanshu Pandey, Karan Oberoi, Siddharth Haldipur, Sherrin Varghese and Chin2 Bhosle, became known as the new kids on the block after their album "Yeh Bhi Woh Bhi" released in August 2002 reportedly crossed the 100,000 sales mark in less than a fortnight.

"We met at this party and we were so comfortable with one another that we thought why not!" says Meghna. "It would be a cross between a Meghna Naidu nite and the Band of Boys. We are working out the details."

She has a model friend to thank for all this though she is cagey about disclosing the Good Samaritan's name.

"It was a co-star from one of my south Indian movies," is all that she is willing to say. "She is an established model in Mumbai and was called by Universal, the company that produced 'Kaliyon ka chaman', for an audition. She took me along and the people there asked me several questions about the work I had done so far and my photographs. After that, they said they would get in touch."

Ten days later, she was called to an audition and the rest is showbiz history.

Doing the boogie-woogie has never been any problem.

"I love dancing," she says. "In fact, stage shows are my forte. I love the interaction it brings with the audience. Also, as a kid, I learnt
Bharatanatyam for seven years."

In fact, it was the lines that were more troublesome. During her first audition, because neither her Telugu nor Kannada was strong, she was given a dialogue in Hindi.

The audition in Hyderabad was the consequence of a wedding.

After she went to a cousin's wedding in a dazzling white sari and with her hair open, she caught the eyes of several producers from the south who were also attending the party.

"They thought I was a model and asked for my father's permission. Dad just said please go ahead."

She acted in two Telugu films, Prema Sakshigaa and Prithvinarayan, and in two Kannada films.

However, more then these, she is pinning her hopes on her Bollywood debut, expected to be released in February.

"Hawas" directed by Karan Razdan casts her opposite a pair of newcomer models Shahwar Ali and Tarun Arora.

In the film, she is married to Ali but has a fling with Arora, then realises her mistake and is eventually forgiven by her husband.

A second movie is in the pipeline in which she would be married to Gulshan Grover. The shooting is to start in Dubai in February.

In a couple of months, she is also expecting to shoot for another music video and is keeping her fingers crossed that it would take off where
"Kaliyon ka chaman" ended.

In between considering other offers that are coming her way, she is concentrating on her stage shows, having just completed a round-the-world tour with Asha Bhonsle and Adnan Samy. A second one is in the offing with video stars like herself.


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