It’s official. She is the brand ambassador for Zandu Balm now. After a week-long tussle during which a 24-hour notice was served to Dabangg producer Arbaaz Khan to remove the product name from the chartbuster Munni badnaam hui…, the cosmetics company that markets the balm has settled for Malaika Arora Khan as their model.
The hottest item girl in the country has just wrapped up a commercial for the balm in three languages. “The Telugu one is with NTR Junior, the Tamil version co-stars Suriya and the Hindi one has me playing both hero and heroine. The beats and the steps are very different for the Tamil and Telugu versions, but Munni... is a rage down south too,” smiles Malaika.
She admits that there were a few hiccups initially, but the matter was sorted out amicably, thanks to the intervention of ad filmmaker Prahlad Kakkar. “The marketing tie-up with Emami should work to our mutual benefit since Munni badnaam hui…has come to be associated so strongly with the balm. I’m told that sales have shot up since the film’s release,” the model-actor reasons.
Sales are up by almost 35 per cent in the last three months and the Kolkata-based firm posted a net profit of Rs. 53 crore for the quarter ending September 30. The company sells other personal care products, too, and its star models include Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Kareena Kapoor and Malaika’s co-judge from the TV dance show, Jhalak Dikhlaa Jaa, Madhuri Dixit. “It is an old and established company and the balm is a popular brand. I’m thrilled with the association and hope the post-release euphoria over Munni…continues,” says an upbeat Malaika.
She has to her credit some of the most popular item numbers, including Chhaiya chhaiya… (Dil Se), Maahi ve… (Kaante), Kaal dhamaal… (Kaal), Hey baby… (Heyy Babyy), Deewangi deewangi… (Om Shanti Om) and Hoth rasiley … (Welcome). “With one more addition to the list, I seem to have conquered the item song market. I’m loving it, and can’t seem to stop smiling,” she asserts.
However, not everyone loves Munni. A PIL was filed with the Allahabad High Court demanding an immediate ban on Munni badnaam hui… and Sheila ki jawaani… from Tees Maar Khan. Petitioner Nutan Thakur insists that they offend morality and decency and have a bad impact on society. The hearing has been set for January 10.
Says Malaika, “We can’t change someone’s perception. But personally, I don’t think we crossed any lines as far as the clothes or the tongue-in-cheek lyrics go. The song was shot aesthetically and was not at all vulgar. Even my son is grooving to its beats. Arhaan danced more than me at the New Year show. I love being Munni and am not apologetic about it!”
Rumour has it that she isn’t happy about other actors dancing to Munni… and that includes Dabangg’s leading lady, Sonakshi Sinha. “Nonsense, Sonakshi was launched by us, and we are very proud and protective of her. I have no issues with her or anyone else,” Malaika retorts. “And hey, I can’t dance to Munni… everywhere.”