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'Non-virginal heroine is fine'

Mallika Sherawat, in an interview with Nivedita Mishra, says it is time we abandoned the puritanical legacy left behind by the British, which has been mistaken for "Indian Culture".

india Updated: Mar 17, 2004 12:28 IST

Q. Is a woman in Bollywood merely an instrument of male gaze?
A.
Why do we have to single out women in Bollywood alone? Why the hell did painters from Ruben to Raja Ravi Verma paint nude women? And what about Madonna's and Jennifer Lopez's music videos and Marilyn Monroe's movies? It all depends on perceptions - one man's porn is another man's art. And unless the man's gay, what's he going to gaze at - cows and pine trees?

Q. How do Bollywood heroines fare vis-a-vis Hollywood female stars?
A.
I don't see much of a difference. Both the industries are male dominated. However there are a few women in both the societies who successfully compete with their male peers. The only difference is that due to the difference in demographics (70 per cent of the population of India is under the age of 30, while the Western countries have a sizeable population over 30) there are more parts written for older actresses.

Q. Do the new crop of directors such as Tanuja Chandra, Meghna Gulzar, Honey Irani and Shona Urvashi have anything new to offer as compared to the older lot like Aruna Raje and Sai Paranjape?
A.
I don't think one can generalize and lump all women directors together, any more than you can lump Bengali directors or Vegetarian directors. I look at each director individually regardless of his or her sex, religion or shoe size!

Q. Does comedy help break down the stereotypes?
A:
Monroe did a lot of comedy but it didn't break down any stereotypes, did it? On the other hand Cameron Diaz managed to in Being John Malkovich. On our shores Madhubala, Hema Malini and Sridevi have had success in avoiding being typecast through comedy. I'm playing a character who's a cross between Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe in Govind Menon's Kis Kis Ki Kismat. Let's see what happens.

First Published: Mar 10, 2004 16:52 IST