“How did demonetisation affect you?” “Oh, as soon as I got to know about it, I went to the mall and bought everything I wanted with all the money I had in cash. It didn’t affect me at all you see.” This is not the kind of conversation you’d expect at the biggest literature festival in the world. But as it turned out, one of the last sessions on the fourth day of the Jaipur Literature Festival was quite unlike any other.
The Charbagh venue was packed to the brim with fans – cheering, clapping and laughing their hearts out. On panel was moderator Suhel Seth, in his ever sardonic self, and speaker Mallika Dua, who rose to social media fame with her Make-Up Didi avatar. The session called #nofilter was an ode to the digital influencers who’re writing a new narrative with the language and way of talking of the millennials.
Dua, a natural comic, was quick on her feet to answer Seth, and even put him on the receiving end of her quick remarks. Seth, for his part, played along and seemed to be having a good laugh or two. “Which school did you go to?” Seth asked. “Modern School. Why, which school did you go to? Doon?” Dua replied. To which, Seth promptly chipped in, “If I had gone to Doon, I’d be heading the Congress right now. No, I went to a proper school.”
What might have seemed like a frivolous session wasn’t really so, with Dua exposing her smart, intelligent self in questions like: “How do you react to trolls on social media?” “I don’t have too many haters, as I don’t deal with very serious content. But yes, I do get the occasional body-shamer,” she answered. “But I’ve a healthy sense of self-esteem. So it doesn’t affect me at all.”
When asked about if she’d like to do a Bollywood film, she said, “Of course. But I wouldn’t want to play the heroine ki chubby saheli. I’m sure I can hold a film on my shoulder on my own.” She said that she’d like to work with directors like Anurag Kashyap or Vishal Bharadwaj. “I’d love to do a character like Tommy Singh of Udta Punjab (played by Shahid Kapoor). I think a woman could’ve easily pulled off a Tommy Singh too,” she said, to much hooting and encouragement from the crowd.
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