It’s an interview I’d never forget. Why? Because I went to interview a celebrity and not a single word came of it in print. It’s never happened to me before. No wonder, we, entertainment journalists have now learned to be on our guard when we interview celebrities.
Celebrities, like any of us, are prone to making mistakes when it comes to remembering dates, referring to other peoples’ work, talking about one’s past or admitting to relationships. These ‘mistakes’ are sometimes deliberate, sometimes unintentional.So, if what they say clashes with the facts researched on them, I usually go back and clarify it with the celebrity or the PR manager. If for some reason I’m not able to get a clarification, I am usually advised drop the portion till I am sure of the facts. However, there is another way to deal with a ‘celebrity lie’ — just go to print or on air with the quote and then watch the fun as they go about blaming the media for putting them in a spot.
But sometimes following certain ethics can backfire on you. It sometimes happened that the most crucial part of my interview or story used to get dropped because the celebrity had said something factually incorrect; I’d often end up getting pulled up by the editor for delivering a tame copy when I’d promised fireworks on the pages. One day, one such editor – a noted personality in the media – decided that he would never hear a news-brief from me. “Write the copy first, and then brief me about the interview,” he had quipped.
Sometimes celebrities tend to manipulate the media when it suits them. It could be to plug a brand for free or aspire for a promising project by gushing about an XYZ co-star or film-maker. Getting a brand, film or an image ‘plug’ across to unsuspecting journalists is now the norm. However, five years back, not too many used to manipulate the media like that.
The ones who used to fib were well-known, and we used to be on our guards while speaking to them. Or we never spoke to them at all!
But I had my share of experience with such things too, and just once an entire interview fell through because the celebrity didn’t give me the real picture. Most of the things that the actor told me were found to be incorrect. I had to pull out the article just before deadline and my editor was so furious that he didn’t speak to me for two days. But two days later, he came around as that was the first time such a thing happened from my side, and perhaps the editor understood that and loved me enough to not tell me anything later. But I felt horrible about letting my editor down that day.
Later, while nursing a peg of single malt he tried to tell me how I should do my homework first and then meet the celebrity. I tried to reason with him that it is impossible to know when the celebrity begins ‘plugging’, but that’s a different story.
The fact remained that I was so shocked by the way this actress fibbed and convincingly so, that I never dared to speak to her ever again.
She is known to the world as Ms Mallika Sherawat.
Before we move further, here is a video clip of Mallika Sherawat’s debut film. She didn’t start her career with Khwahish but with Jeena Sirf Mere Liye that starred Kareena Kapoor and Tushar Kapoor in the lead. In this film, she is credited as Reema Lamba, the name that is actually her own. Mallika Sherawat was reportedly invented later by Mahesh Bhatt when he was filming Murder.
The next couple of posts are going to be devoted to her ‘pearls of wisdom’. At the time, when I transcribed her interview, I found myself deleting one comment after another, and was left with a blank page staring at me.
But first we will talk about the reason we are discussing Madame M here. It’s all triggered by the famous video that’s circulating around, where she declared that she came from a regressive country called India, at Cannes just a week back. She even went on to boast about having ushered a new dawn in Indian cinema by kissing and wearing bikini for the first time. Of course, both of them are lies and since all the quotes are on camera, Mallika cannot deny them now.
The problem with the interview is that it was given to Variety magazine on the sidelines of the Cannes Film Festival, where you expect Indian actors to showcase the best of Indian cinema. Here is the interview that outraged so many Indians.
Over the past few days, I have heard several voices in her support saying that she has spoken the truth about India by calling it “regressive”. Fair enough. But I don’t think anything condones the fact that she lied about Indian Cinema which is incidentally celebrating 100 years. I have a problem with Mallika using the platform to say something that is not a fact, and being so blasé about it.
So, before trying to separate the grain from the chaff, I will tell you what she told me when I wanted to know more about her life before she became a star.
Mallika Sherawat nee Reema Lamba told me that she was in her early twenties five years back and that she hails from a small town called Rohtak in Haryana. She said that she came from a middle-class family that strongly believed in middle-class conservative values, typical to a town like Rohtak. Women in her hometown, she said, are looked down upon to the point that almost all of them are oppressed by the men there. She said that she was so passionate about films that she ‘took’ some money from her house and ran away to Delhi where she used to stay with a friend. She did odd jobs to support herself and got into modelling as she wanted to be in films. A filmmaker spotted her in one of those ads and got her to do a screen-test. She excelled in those screen tests, which included smooching her co-star. The director then offered her the film which included 17 kisses. The rest is history.
Here is a video clip of Mallika’s famous kisses in the film Khwahish.
I diligently wrote everything down that she said. But when I sat down to write the article, I found that whatever she told me and whatever is documented about her are two dramatically different stories.
We will debunk those myths, one by one, in my next post. I am sure Mallika Sherawat will appreciate the fact that I will speak the truth and only the truth about her.
Till then, we will leave you with a video clip of what Priyanka Chopra thinks about Mallika’s statement at Cannes.
The next part of this series will be posted on Monday. Enjoy your Sunday without Mallika Sherawat.
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