The crossover actresses - from glam to prim

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS
5/20/2004 12:00:00 AM
From glamorous to demure, feathers and sequins to sober saris, Bollywood actresses down the ages have made the transition with apparent ease.

As Mallika Sherawat plans her first family comedy "Kiss Kiss Ki Kismat", one is reminded of others from earlier eras who tried to make the crossover -- with varying degrees of success.

At the height of her cabaret contortions, Helen took a U-turn from Asha Bhosle's "Yeh mera dil pyar ka deewana" in "Don" to Lata Mangeshkar's sublime "Zid na karo" in "Lahoo Ke Do Rang".

Abandoning her feathers and sequins, she draped herself in a demure sari to play Vinod Khanna's second wife in Mahesh Bhatt's bigamous drama. Helen even won the Filmfare award for her efforts.

Then there was Bindu who suddenly got into a sari to play Amitabh Bachchan's platonic sympathetic shoulder in Hrishikesh Mukherjee's "Abhimaan" after many roles where she played the vamp with oomph.

Don't know what Hrishida saw in Bindu. But it certainly wasn't oomph because in his "Arjun Pandit" he cast Bindu as the female lead in a totally deglamourised role.

Another item girl and vamp of yesteryears was Padma Khanna, who stepped into a role offered to Mumtaz in the Rajshris' "Saudagar" to play the rural siren who steals Amitabh Bachchan away from Nutan. Admittedly, however, the role didn't really require her to do away with her coquettish mannerisms.

The two best makeovers were by Sharmila Tagore and Mumtaz.

After getting into skimpy bathing costumes in Shakti Samanta's "An Evening In Paris", Sharmila suddenly moved into the sari stratosphere with Hrishikesh Mukherjee.

Then again, after the ultra-glam role in O.P. Ralhan's Talaash (India's first multimillion rupee production) she donned the widow's weeds to play Rajesh Khanna's saintly mom in Shakti Samanta's "Aradhana".

Rajesh Khanna's other favourite heroine Mumtaz achieved an even more astonishing makeover.

From playing the comedienne and glamour girl, she got promoted to Jeetendra's village beauty leading lady in V. Shantaram's "Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti" (the role was first offered to the director's daughter Rajshri who played truant).

And after doing a cabaret ("Tik tiki tik mera dil dole" rendered uncharacteristically by Lata Mangeshkar! ) with Jeetu in "Humjoli" she stepped into a role first offered to Sharmila Tagore to play a sari-clad housewife in Vijay Anand's "Tere Mere Sapne".

The makeover was complete.

Incidentally, Mumtaz's sister Mallika couldn't achieve her sister's stardom. Maybe Mallika Sherawat will be luckier.

But the makeover from the other end -- from Plain Jane to ultra-glamorous -- has never been that successful.

Nutan with her middle class magnificence got into bare-backed gowns that seemed borrowed from Helen to play a quasi-vamp in Sawan Kumar's "Saajan Ki Saheli". Jaya Bhaduri played the college student in Ramesh Behl's "Jawani Diwani". Though "Jawani Diwani" was a hit, both were criticised for their glam-makeovers.

Waheeda Rehman still cringes when reminded of her glamorous avatar in "Shatranj". And who can forget every mother-in-law's favourite dream girl Hema Malini donning a slit gown for Manmohan Desai's "Naseeb" to croon "Mere naseeb mein tu hai ki nahin"?