In one of her most memorable screen appearance, Hema Malini had quipped, “humien befuzul baat karne ki aadat toh hai nehi (I am not in the habit of talking unnecessarily).”
It was Basanti, Malini’s portrayal of a village girl in Bollywood’s cult film Sholay in 1975. Three decades later, after she entered the world of politics, the ‘Dream girl’ of Indian films has had frequent trysts with controversies, courtesy her remarks.
In August 2007, then a member of the Upper House of Parliament, Hema Malini posed a question to the then UPA government. “Whether the government is considering to bring the parts used in manufacturing reverse osmosis-based purifiers at par with finished purifiers at nil rate of excise duty in order to compete with the imported finished products”.
The cine star-turned- parliamentarian’s question could have helped millions of households using RO-based water filters. Instead, it led to more questions on whether she was trying to seek answers to benefit any particular company. Malini had been long associated as a brand ambassador of a water filter company and her rivals quickly tried to sniff motives behind her questions.
From the Rajya Sabha, Malini made a smooth transition to the Lok Sabha but controversies refused to leave her. Her speeding Mercedes rammed into an Alto last year when she was touring Rajasthan. Malini received VIP treatment and was rushed to a private hospital but the victim family in the Alto found no attention. A two-year old girl in the Alto succumbed to grave injuries and in a tweet, Malini blamed her father, who was driving the Alto, for the death. Many people questioned why Malini, an MP, did not ensure the child was taken to the hospital in time.
Two years ago, during a visit to her constituency Mathura, she said widows from West Bengal and Bihar should not come to Vrindavan. She also said, “Vrindavan widows have a bank balance, good income, nice beds, but they beg out of habit.” She was accused of getting undue favours from the BJP-led government in Maharashtra when an RTI query revealed that a 2,000-square-metre plot near Mumbai’s posh suburban area Andheri was given to the BJP parliamentarian for her dance school for just Rs 70,000. The value of the plot was more than Rs 50 crore.
And now, Malini has again been targeted by her detractors for tweeting about her shooting when her constituency Mathura was burning. As tempers rose, the BJP MP deleted the tweets and expressed concern for the situation in Mathura.
“I am a very sensitive person. I am deeply pained on the Mathura incident but law and order of Uttar Pradesh is the core issue. Let’s not divert,” added the 67-year-old, stressing that while she will be reaching the spot soon, “but the presence of Mathura police is more important than mine”.