Compiled By Poorva Rajaram
An Inside Job
VJ and actress Shenaz Treasurywala has breached the inner sanctum of American television. Instead of being cast by guilty liberals in fringe shows intent on magnanimously promoting ethnic diversity, she will appear in a quintessentially American daytime pastime: a soap opera. On the popular One Life To Live, she plays the “sexy, manipulative and man-eating” Rama Gupta. She will follow in the illustrious footsteps of her predecessor Kabir Bedi, who brought a stunted regal charm to his maniacal character, Prince Omar, in The Bold and the Beautiful.
The it girls and the idiot box
Veena Malik plus Rakhi Sawant plus India TV plus Bigg Boss spoof plus World Cup special. You couldn’t have imagined a boring show. Yet, the result —Big Toss, a World Cup special on India TV — is a tad desultory. The normally ebullient Sawant and Malik seem to have regressed into a timid pit of ingénue blankness. Both looked distinctly confused about what to say next for most of the show and only Sawant managed sparks of spontaneity. We finished watching the show with only their spaghetti halter sari blouses etched in our memory.
As the unwavering consumers of all the good movies and detritus Bollywood produces, we have humble requests. A constant wish of the naïve movie-goer: less nepotism, more talent. Meet Priyanka Chopra’s cousin Parineeti Chopra, who has been signed by Yashraj for their upcoming production Ladies v/s RickyBahl. Piggy Chops herself is reportedly thrilled at this fortuitous turn of events. The winds of change have clearly hit B-town because now you don’t have to be a Kapoor for your relatives to covertly trickle into the business. And we can get ready for a new level-playing field of sorts.
Delhi recently witnessed the whirlwind entrance and exit of cultural theory megastar, Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. In her Valentine’s day keynote opening of the dubiously titled conference, ‘Postfeminist Postmortems’, she was humorous, oddly spunky and expectedly caustic (“I wear the word elitist like a badge”). She proceeded to systematically poke holes in the premise of the conference (that we are in a postfeminist era) and creatively assert that she thought academics who loosely used the words counter and multiple were a bit dopey. Not to mention her impeccable and trademark Bengal cotton sari.
‘In India, people look at you as if you are naked’
Who Monikangana Dutta is a model based in Mumbai. A Guwahati girl, she has been on the cover of every fashion magazine since she arrived on the scene, and was recently seen opposite Hrithik Roshan in Guzaarish. She has now been handpicked to be a Victoria’s Secret Angel
By Aastha Atray Banan
As a child, were you always the pretty one?
(Laughs) I am too humble to answer this question. But models are also human beings, aren’t they? I think when you don’t want something, you end up getting it a lot. I am an introvert but I have always got a lot of attention. And I don’t really like it. But I think that’s the trick of the trade – the best actors or models are the ones who are extremely shy. But we get all the attention. It’s all an act. We act as if we are all outgoing.
Were there any other ambitions you had or did you always want to be a model?
My father, who owns a tea estate, and my mother, who has perhaps done everything in life, brought me up to believe that I didn’t need to follow any pattern. So, as a child, I never thought about what I wanted to be. I never got used to these man-made rules. I just lived for the moment and tried to be perfect in that moment. Yes, perfection is a passion for me and my family.
As a model, what’s the biggest misconception you think people have about you?
Everything and anything is a misconception, and especially in India. Maybe what the British said about us was true – we are bloody Indians. We are always judging people. We bitch and we gossip. Indians have too much time on their hands. And I think modelling just doesn’t go with our culture. And the problem really started after that movie, Fashion. Now they think we do drugs and sleep around. What nonsense. Everyone does it – be it the corporate world or the film world. Maybe if you step into a hospital, someone there may just be doing all this. Actually even normal people do all this, then why blame just us?
Have you regretted not completing your education because you started modelling?
I did in the beginning. But then I was being approached by the best of people then and I was obsessed. I had a tough time convincing my father as well. But I didn’t want to let the chance go. I wanted it very badly then, and now I don’t regret it at all.
Do you believe that hard luck is everything or luck also matters?
I think destiny and effort are two sides of the same coin. In the world today, you are faced with so many distractions. You need to be focussed and work real hard so you can shape your destiny. But as you do that, you alienate people and to be focused, you need to get rid of all distractions. So you might be successful but very lonely.
Do you have any dos and don’ts regarding nudity or intimacy on screen?
I know Guzaarish had some risqué scenes. But I think actresses like Vidya Balan have gone miles ahead of me. But I have realised that in India, this doesn’t work. When I was young, I posed in revealing clothes for a magazine and my parents told me that this won’t work in India. I first thought they were wrong, but today I realise no, they were right. You have to accept the norms of India. I think I was young and I didn’t understand, and was paid a lot of money for it. Anyway, I have been there and done that. So now I will think before wearing revealing clothes. And I will never smoke on screen. And as far as smooching goes, well, that depends on the actor I have to smooch!
What’s your guilty pleasure?
I love dancing. I wish I had continued learning Kathak as a child. Now I am getting back to it. Someday, I want people to see that side of me.
One of your tweets read, “If you’re not loved by anyone in your life, then how can you love yourself and know what’s special about yourself?” Do you need to be loved by someone to feel good?
I am a die-hard romantic. I know that sometimes it’s important to get attention from people to realise your worth. It’s like an award. When you win a Filmfare, you know you have achieved something. So when you are loved, you know you deserve it
Does it bother you when you are on a worst-dressed list?
I don’t care. Once again, these people who malign my dress sense are following a pattern. If you try something different, you are bitched about. All these other girls look alike, and I have realised you can’t experiment. You need to be safe. Recently, they were bitching about my Ferragamo boots, and I was like, “they are for 7,000 dollars”. It was really upsetting. But in India, people look at you and say things even if you are dressed in jeans and a tee. They look at you as if you are naked. But I guess you can’t live with it, or without it.