Torn To Pieces! Does She De­serve Her Ter­ri­ble Rep­u­ta­tion?

Stardust (English) - - MOVIE MAIL BAG -

For ev­ery Bindiya Goswami or Za­rina Wa­hab who may find her too over­bear­ing and com­pet­i­tive to co-star with, there is a Sha­bana Azmi or a Neetu Singh who finds her quite easy go­ing and co-op­er­a­tive. For ev­ery S. K. Luthra (‘ KhelKis­metKa’) or Vi­jay Sharma (‘ Gopal Kr­ishna’) who find her too de­mand­ing and in­ter­fer­ing an artiste to di­rect, there is a Basu Bhat­tacharya or a Raj Ku­mar Kohli who con­sider her most obe­di­ent and re­cep­tive on the sets. For ev­ery Sachin or Mithun Chakraborty who call her an in­cor­ri­gi­ble tease, whose favourite pas­time is to make ma­jnus out of men and drop them as soon as she’s bored (and they’re hooked), there is a Vinod Mehra or a Rakesh Roshan who can’t fault her be­hav­iour in any way.

The point now arises:

DOES SARIKA DE­SERVE THE ‘PROB­LEM-STAR’ REP­U­TA­TION SHE HAS BEEN GIVEN?

Abig NO is clearly writ­ten on both ma-beti’s faces be­fore I can even ask the ques­tion. Ini­tially, the mother is up­tight, “We don’t want to com­ment on the con­tro­ver­sies”, and the daugh­ter pa­thet­i­cally, “I’m un­for­tu­nate…” at least, they are sen­si­ble (and smart) enough not to feign ig­no­rance. Mother and daugh­ter are fully aware of all the bak-bak that’s cir­cu­lat­ing within the in­dus­try, and aware also that none of it is com­pli­men­tary! Slowly, the noth­ing-both­ersme façade wears down. The real ir­ri­tabil­ity, anger, hurt shows through. Sarika is too spir­ited a young­ster to play the mar­tyr, the woman wronged for long. Her voice rises, the pent-up words tum­ble out in tor­rents, tears rush to the blue­grey ryes. But she makes the same (con­ve­nient) mis­take that all stars with ‘rep­u­ta­tions’ have made be­fore her. She blames the press for all the trou­ble. “They have noth­ing else to write about me.” Sarika fumes. “I don’t swing at dis­cos, I don’t fight with any­one on the sets, and by God’s grace, I

don’t give bad per­for­mances. But since peo­ple want to read about me, the press has to write about me. So they make up things – how I use men, why I …” “Yeh jour­nal­ism ki baat ha­mare samajh mein nahin aayee,” her mother in­ter­rupts. “As far as I know, it is sup­posed to project a per­son as he or she is. Mo­rar­jee De­sai is Mo­rar­jee De­sai. San­jeev Ku­mar is San­jeev Ku­mar. But nowa­days, the press is show­ing a per­son as she is NOT!” And what they con­sider the gross­est mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion is what Sarika is most con­sis­tently made out to be – a sexy lil’ Lolita, who switches boyfriends as of­ten as most girls her age change nail-pol­ish. But this im­age is not so much cour­tesy the press, as the men in her life. I point out to her that there have been many break-ups in the in­dus­try but never has the man ma­ligned his woman as much, or as bit­terly, as is hap­pen­ing in her case. Sarika shrugs, “Per­haps they are bit­ter be­cause I didn’t give them any lift. Per­haps they feel re­jected…” Then, as if re­al­is­ing that she is be­ing very vague, she says pur­pose­fully, “Look, I’m the kind of per­son who be­lieves that if I have a qual­ity, I should use it. What’s the point of wast­ing it? If I was a flirt, I would use this qual­ity with peo­ple from whom I could ben­e­fit – not with those who would ben­e­fit from me! But I have never done it…”And she con­sid­ers the fact that she is still strug­gling in spite of hav­ing been four years in the in­dus­try, am­ple proof of it. Fur­ther, she in­sists self-righ­teously that she has never stooped to take ad­van­tage of her per­sonal re­la­tion­ships with the big peo­ple she worked with as a child-star (B. R. Cho­pra, Gulzar, Su­nil Dutt) to get rec­om­men­da­tions for films. “Just be­cause there is a per­sonal re­la­tion­ship, it’s not nec­es­sary that I must work in all their films. I’m con­fi­dent that they will take me when they have a suit­able role for me.” But her male-friends, Sarika feels, haven’t been so above-board in their deal­ings with her. “They have taken ad­van­tage of my name for pub­lic­ity…” In Sachin’s case, she ad­mits that there was a rea­son for the ro­man­tic pair­ing. They were friendly, they were seen to­gether at par­ties, func­tions, and though “peo­ple saw fifty and made it out to be hun­dred! – it wasn’t all a smoke-screen. “But the way I’m be­ing linked with a dif­fer­ent man ev­ery month – one month it’s Vinod Mehra, the next month it’s Parik­shat Sahini, the next it’s some­body else – it’s too funny! Is it pos­si­ble for a girl to change her af­fec­tions so fast? There should be some limit. It seems as if all these men are just wait­ing in line for Sarika to pick them up and drop them! As if they don’t have other girl­friends of their own!” Mithun Chakraborty she can’t for­give. Though she says, “Thank God, he’s mar­ried now – that should put an end to the ru­mours!” – I can see that the whole Mithun episode has left a sour taste in her mouth. “He took ad­van­tage of my friend­ship. That re­ally hurt me…” Ap­par­ently, ever since she worked with Mithun in Ajay Biswas’s film. Sarika has had two in­ten­tions re­gard­ing him one, to be friends with him (“I liked him as a per­son. He’s great fun

to be with”). Two, to help his ca­reer where she could. Mithun mis­con­strued her ‘in­ter­est’ and fell in love with her. Sarika tried to clear the mis­un­der­stand­ing when he de­clared his feel­ings. She told him. “I con­sider you a friend. I have no other thoughts in my mind…” The next thing they knew was that Mithun was spread­ing sto­ries about their love-af­fair. When Sarika’s mother ques­tioned him, he de­clared, “Aunty, you need the se­cu­rity!” Mrs. Thakur flared up in­stantly. “All these years. I didn’t need se­cu­rity, huh? I have brought up my daugh­ter on my own. Now when she’s old enough to take care of her­self and look after me. I sud­denly need se­cu­rity!” That was prob­a­bly the cli­max when the ma-beti threw the paraya out of the house! “And now he says that I did ev­ery­thing for pub­lic­ity!” Sarika looks aghast at his au­dac­ity. “Did I get pub­lic­ity out of him? Or did he get it out of me? Who is Mithun Chakraborty? Which films of his have been re­leased? Mri­gayaa bhi kitni chali thi? If he is known to­day it is as the man who was in­volved with Sarika!” She tries to be dis­pas­sion­ate. But her ego is too pro­voked to keep the ris­ing emo­tions in check. “Just see,” she con­tin­ues, like a woman de­ter­mined to squeeze the sponge bone-dry, “I was sup­posed to have had an af­fair with Sachin for two years. Yet, Sachin has never given any state­ments against me. And Mithun, whom I knew for just three­four months, he is talk­ing – ‘She ditched me’. ‘She broke my heart’. Arre, char mahine mein itni jyaada

at­tach­ment ho gayi…?” If I was that type of a girl, shouldn’t Sachin have been say­ing the same things about me?” She laughs forcedly, and peers closely at my face to see if the point has struck home. To make dou­bly sure, she spells it out, “Just shows to what ex­tent a man will ex­ag­ger­ate when he wants to lie…” As for her­self, Sarika de­clares that she is too frank a per­son to lie about any­thing – even her af­fairs. “If I was hav­ing an af­fair, I would say so openly. Why should I hide it? What’s wrong with hav­ing an af­fair with some­one you love?” Of course, she has­tens to add that she’s no fickle flirt who flies from man to man like a bhavra, rather, she takes love and mar­riage very se­ri­ously. “I want to fall in love with some­one, to have a small af­fair, get mar­ried to him have our own home, our own chil­dren… This is my lit­tle dream…” I bring her back to re­al­ity with a fresh at­tack. This time, it’s the girls at the fir­ing end. To date, I can’t re­mem­ber a sin­gle hero­ine hav­ing a sin­gle good word for Sarika. Every­one talks about her, yes – but only to tear her to pieces, and rel­ish do­ing it. I’m sur­prised that one chit of a teenager can arouse this amount of back-bit­ing. Sarika loftily dis­misses it off as envy. “It’s ob­vi­ous!” she de­clares. “Maybe they don’t have con­fi­dence in them­selves… I don’t know why else they should talk bad about me.” I can’t let her off so lightly. I per­sist that while ev­ery ac­tress is friends with an­other ac­tress, Sarika in her friend­less-state stands out like a sore thumb. What does she do to put the girls off col­lec­tively? Sarika is only slightly put off her­self. Ob­vi­ously, women are not all that im­por­tant to her and she doesn’t want to waste time wor­ry­ing about their bitch­ing. Her re­ac­tion is stud­iedly un­der­played. “In our in­dus­try, friend­ship is car­ried to an ex­treme. You hear of hero­ines be­ing fast friends, they roam around hand in hand, do their shop­ping to­gether, go ev­ery­where to­gether. Then sud­denly there’s a jhagda and ev­ery­thing is fin­ished. I don’t be­lieve in quick friend­ships and quick break-ups. Naam ki dosti ka kya phayeda?” She finds it more prac­ti­cal to keep her re­la­tion­ships with her co-hero­ines within lim­its. This way, they’re not close enough for has­sles, nor far enough for hos­til­ity. Ev­ery minute that I spend with her, it’s be­com­ing clearer to me that Sarika is tak­ing great pains to en­sure a smooth-sail­ing pas­sage for her­self while she’s rock­ing her boat on the filmi seas. But she hasn’t man­aged to con­trol the cur­rent against her yet. Even on the pro­fes­sional front, waves of dis­ap­proval and dis­con­tent are con­tin­u­ously lash­ing ashore. Sarika, ac­cord­ing to the in­dus­try know-alls, is made out to be a lit­tle politi­cian. Tales of her su­per starry mis­be­haviour on the sets, her clever strate­gies to get the best lines scenes/mileage and to re­duce her co-star’s roles, etc. fil­ter through the grapevine ev­ery day. I can’t help but won­der why Sarika is mak­ing her­self un­pop­u­lar be­fore she can be­come pop­u­lar in the real sense of the word. For once, Sarika is caught un­awares. This is the first time she’s hear­ing that she’s “too dif­fi­cult” to work with. She de­nies all the charges about her starry tantrums and de­mands (“I haven’t got enough suc­cess for it to go to my head!”) and as proof of­fers the fact that all her pro­duc­ers (So­han­lal Kan­war, Basu Bhat­tacharya, Raj Ku­mar Kohli) are re­peat­ing her in their fu­ture films. “Even su­per­stars don’t get re­peated if they give trou­ble. So why would any­body re­peat Sarika if she was dif­fi­cult?” The slight hu­mil­ity gives a slight con­vinc­ing touch to her ar­gu­ment. About her length­en­ing her roles at the cost of her co-star’s, Sarika is equally ve­he­ment. “I have never be­lieved in the length of a role. It is the qual­ity of the role that is im­por­tant to me!” She has learnt this les­son from Vinod Khanna. Though his was the small­est role in

Who is Mithun Chakraborty? Which lms of his have been re­leased? If he is known to­day it is as the man who was in­volved with Sarika!”

PremKa­hani, he had nev­er­the­less scored over all the oth­ers in the film. She gives her own ex­am­ple in An­padh. Hers is the ti­tle role, but she doesn’t make an ap­pear­ance till after the in­ter­val. And Za­rina Wa­hab (the other hero­ine in the film) is there right from the first frame till the last. “Even the pro­ducer asked me why I hadn’t ques­tioned him about the length of my role. I told him. ‘Why should I, the story de­mands it. ‘Still I’m not wor­ried. I have the con­fi­dence that in spite of the small role, my work will be no­ticed!” Sarika sits back on the sofa. She has had her say, and is quite con­fi­dent that she has man­aged to sal­vage some shreds of her rep­u­ta­tion. She feels that it’s only a mat­ter of time be­fore all the con­tro­ver­sies about her are cleared. I tell her she’s be­ing too op­ti­mistic, but I can’t dampen her hopes. She can al­ready see the air of change blow­ing across the in­dus­try. “Peo­ple who know me, don’t even ques­tion me about the truth or fal­sity of a story. They only say, ‘Why are they say­ing such things about you?’…” Also, she has heard that some of them have started tak­ing up and fight­ing for her. Re­cently, one di­rec­tor tried to sym­pa­thise with an­other who was shoot­ing with Sarika that day, say­ing, “Poor you. That means your shoot­ing won’t start be­fore twelve o’ clock.” The ‘vic­tim’ promptly shot back. “What non­sense! Do you know that Sarika is al­ways the first one to re­port for work?” And if that is any inkling, things are def­i­nitely on the im­prove­ment track for Sarika. She is con­fi­dent that even the mag­a­zine-read­ers who may have doubts about her ‘ter­ri­ble rep­u­ta­tion’ will re­alise it’s “all bull­shit” and see the ‘real’ Sarika as she is. “I’m not a bad per­son,” she says. “I’m a good girl. And just as bur­rayi chhup nahin sakti, so also achchai can’t re­main hid­den for long!” The truth will be out, as Ham­let would have said. On that note, I leave Sarika to get ready for her two o’clock shift. I don’t want to spoil her new goody­goody rep­u­ta­tion (of be­ing the first on the sets) be­fore she has had a chance to even es­tab­lish it!

...with Mithun Chakraborty

...with Rakesh Roshan

...with Ka­mal Haasan

...with Rand­hir Kapoor

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