On her recent visit to the city, Madonna Impersonator Melissa Totten seems to be in love with India. From visiting the Taj Mahal to buying traditional jewellery and bindis to eating tandoori chicken, it's all on her priority list. "I want to go to the Taj Mahal and want to see what one man (Shah Jahan) did for love," she says.
"I have been to India earlier twice, but only to Delhi. My last trip was 18 years ago. I love to go shopping to Connaught place and janpath market," she says before adding, "Shopping is a big thing whenever I'm in India. I cannot resist buying the traditional jewellery pieces. Whether the heavy neck-pieces or the earrings and rings, they are simply exotic."
Much like her idol, Totten would also like to try putting bindis on her forehead for a performance and henna on her hand. "The bindi looks wonderful. It adds so much charm to the face. I have often been fascinated by how it remains stuck on the skin." But she would like to leave the saree draping for the Indian women. "Saree is a wonderful garment, but I think the Indian woman can carry it better than anyone else. It is as if it was made for them. I would respect the Indian tradition and not like to wear the saree."
Looking like her idol Madonna, with the blonde hair and strikingly similar features, has she been mistaken for the eternal diva when on the streets? "Yes. Often. When Madonna was seen on the streets more often, people would mistake me for her and ask me for an autograph or follow me. Then I would explain to them that I am not her. Now I consciously try to do my hair differently and not look like her when I go on the streets. But sometimes my eyes give me away as they have an uncanny resemblance to the pop diva."
Totten became a Madonna impersonator by accident when a professor noticed her striking similarity to the material girl. "Though I like all of Madge's songs, my favourite to perform anywhere in the world is Like a prayer," she says.
Madonna (left) and Melissa Totten
On 15 day tour to perform in seven cities around the country till August 31, Totten is making the most of the trip by gorging on Indian delicacies. "I love Indian food. My favourite is the tandoori chicken," she says. I am trying the Indian delicacies in every city, of some I don't even know the names.I My mantra for food is :- if it's Indian, just bring it on. It's not too spicy for my taste glands," she says. "I often have Indian food in UK as well, though I know that it's a watered down version that we get there. So I am making the most of this trip."
Though a fan of Indian fashion and food, Totten has not seen any Indian film and is not aware about Shah Rukh Khan or Amitabh Bachchan. "I am clueless about Indian cinema as I travel so much, but given a chance, I would love to share the stage with them and create a fusion of Indian and Western sounds," she says.
From doing Bhangra on Jai ho to mixing the punjabi Mundiya to bach ke rahi with English numbers, Totten added the desi touch that got the audience grooving at her performance as part of Black Dog easy evenings concert ‘Madonna Forever’ held in Gurgaon on Sunday.
I loved performing in Delhi after 18 years. The enthusiasm amongst the crowd, especially women was very encouraging. Say yes to girl-power.
On the recent controversy about Madonna being sued by Russians for her support to the gay community and the punk band Pussy Riot. - “I feel it is unfortunate that there are societies that penalize people who have a different opinion from the government, whether it is Madonna or anyone else.”