No one saw this coming. Yes, she slapped her boyfriend on national television, confessed about silicon implants over coffee with Karan Johar, reprimanded Aamir Khan for remarrying, and nearly got a Punjabi popstar arrested. But then Rakhi Sawant wouldn’t be Rakhi Sawant without walloping everyone with massive shocks at regular intervals. Publicity’s most prized prodigy is … drum roll please… getting hitched on national television.
You can just picture the matrimonial ad — 29-year-old Indian item girl/actress/chat show host/reality TV star seeks perfect husband for televised nuptials. Groom should tolerate mild physical abuse and must refer to wife as ‘bigg boss’. Must be willing to endure rigorous physical and mental challenges to prove his love. No Abhisheks please.
She is an infamous household name, one that’s impossible to ignore for long. Especially when she manages to pull off a stunt like this with aplomb — post-IPL, audiences will witness another spectacle unfolding on their television screens. 15 prospective grooms will compete to win Sawant’s hand in marriage on NDTV Imagine’s new show Rakhi ka Swayamvar. The bride-in-waiting will handpick her life-partner with votes from the audience.
For Sawant, reality has never been nearly as rewarding as reality TV. "Television gave me name, fame, and a car, it will also give me a husband,” she says. Sawant could well be the pin-up girl of new-age feminism. “In India, the men come to the girls with a proposal. Here, I’m going to the men!” She will have none of that husband-devotion ideology either. “He will have to keep the Karva Chauth fast for me," she demands. “I need a majnu and a ranjha.”
What if none of the ‘contestants’ appeal to her? She retorts, "People may think I’m blindly choosing my husband, but I am going to select him only after auditions and tests."
Selecting a suitor on television might be an American novelty with reality shows like The Bachelor, but Sawant believes her show is rooted in Indian tradition. "In Ramayana, Sita had a swayamvar too,” says Sawant who once proclaimed that, “being a behenji gets you nowhere.” And like all traditional Indian brides-to-be Sawant has her family’s consent. “My mother, brother and sister-in-law are happy for me. But I don’t care what anyone thinks because I am setting up my home.”
Sawant has set high standards for her coupling. Her ideal married couples are Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Shahrukh and Gauri Khan, Abhishek and Aishwarya Bachchan, and Sanjay and Manyata Dutt. "I deserve a very good marriage ... I deserve a millionaire husband like Anil Ambani,” she says, hastening to add, “But I will accept whoever God has chosen for me.”
Which brings us to another Rakhi Sawant peculiarity. For someone who has become famous solely by being fearless, Sawant is god-fearing to the point where she tells you "God is everywhere. He’s even listening to this interview.” She even defends her brazenness with piety. “I’m a different person. I don’t follow the world’s law, I follow God’s law. God ka kanoon.”
With people privy to everything she says, does, and shows, is there anything sacrosanct for Sawant? “I don’t like to reveal my past. It was very painful,” she says. Which is why any mention of ex-boyfriend Abhishek Awasthi, prompts a “No comments” reply.
With Rakhi Sawant, it is safe to expect the unexpected. Even she hasn’t a clue of what the future holds. “I will do whatever God wants me to do. If I have to become a big movie actress, I will. If I have to become Mother Teresa, I will. If I have to become a politician, I will do that also,” she says. But politics can take a back seat. For now, she wants you to vote for her husband-to-be.