In 2004, a two-film-old actor shot to fame with director Anurag Basu’s hit, Murder. Also starring Emraan Hashmi and with a soundtrack that made Kunal Ganjawala a singing sensation (remember Bheegey Hont Tere), the film worked wonders for Mallika Sherawat’s career.
She made headlines for the intimate scenes that she so confidently pulled off, and, in no time, she had earned herself the title of a ‘sex siren’ in Bollywood.
Partly typecast, Mallika went on to do several other Hindi films and even a few international ones (Hisss, 2010, and Politics Of Love, 2011). But most of them didn’t do well.
Her last successful Hindi film was Welcome in 2007, which was a multi-starrer. Bring up her rocky career path, and Mallika admits the last few years has been tough. "There was a lull, and I agree that an actor is as good as his or her last film. I accept I did not get strong, meaty roles. But that happens with everybody. hat matters is that I am still being offered roles," she says.
Did you fail to sustain the fame and success that came with Murder? "That depends on how one defines success. I am still an independent woman. I take my own decisions. I sign my own cheques. That is success for me, and not having 200 films in my kitty. I am the only actor who has met Barack Obama twice. I am satisfied with where I am," she says.
The limitation, according to Mallika, came in the form of her image of a ‘sex siren’. "When you have a glamorous image, people tend to cast you in glamorous parts. Serious film-makers are hesitant to work with you because they don’t trust your ability," she says.
These roles are now on Mallika’s agenda as she is looking forward to doing varied films. Her next, for instance, is inspired by Bhanwari Devi’s life. She will share screen space with veterans such as Nasseruddin Shah, Om Puri and Anupam Kher in the film. "There is definitely a conscious effort to do films in which there is scope to perform. People should know that there is a serious side to me," says Mallika, who still fails to understand why it took so long for such a role to be offered to her.
"I don’t even think I am good looking. People think so. I think I am a very average looking girl. Despite that, I get glamorous roles. But in this film, the role is glamorous and also gives me an opportunity to act."