This appeared in Bombay Times.
When I look at the current crop of Bollywood’s top heroines, an obvious question arises : where are the asli beauties?? There may be several ‘Hotties’ around, but honestly speaking, nobody really makes the cut as a classically beautiful woman – the kind who takes your breath away. Someone from the old school. It’s the same story in Hollywood. There are any number of spectacularly glamourous ladies floating around in even more spectacular couture – but show me a Vivenne Leigh. And remember, those were pre-Botox days, nobody was ‘fixed up’ and the only enhancements that were mandatory involved stuffing in the bra. Make up artists used chalky powder and home made kaajal, photo shop had not been invented, neither had air brushing of images. What you saw on screen ( very rarely in person) was what you got – an abundance of unadulterated , untouched raw beauty. Our own film industry in its hey days boasted of an impressive roster of genuine lookers – from Nutan to Vyjayantimala , Hema Malini to Madhuri Dixit. Abruptly, that era ended with the arrival of the Plastic Queens. These days it is virtually impossible to tell where real stops and plastic kicks in. Not that it matters. The girls today have so much more work to put in. Work, as in getting their image in place, participating in killer publicity, doing elaborate photo shoots – and above all else, dealing with the strain of looking over their shoulders constantly to see what younger rivals are up to. Enough to give even the most radiant rose a few unexpected thorns to deal with. Besides, with the focus so heavily on the Body Beautiful, not too many people are looking at the face. Today’s gals know it’s all about delivering with the curves – gone are the days when it actually mattered whether the eyes expressed genuine emotion, whether those tears were glycerine induced, whether a dramatic moment had to register via a glance rather than a pelvic thrust. Oof…. Meena Kumari … we miss you!
Most of the top bracket ladies today are interchangeable – they look the same, dress the same, sound the same, are the same. Their box office status is determined more by their Sizzle Quotient than histrionic abilities. Looks are key – but not beauty. So long as their bods emote and they are up for ‘item’ songs that set the screen on fire, that’s all that matters. These are Café Coffee Day gals – instant gratification, zero recall. Of course, there is just one, solitary Aishwarya Bachchan, still flying the beauty flag , but for the rest, it’s only about manipulating polls that declare them to be the ‘Hottest’ or ‘Sexiest’ women on the planet. Your jaws drop as you go , “ Whaaaat? This one – hot? Sexy? Have people lost it?” But then again, that’s how the endorsement game is played – win a poll, bag a deal. Ditto, world wide. Why, even a Serena Williams is said to have gone under the knife recently and had her nose fixed, so that she photographs better when she whacks opponents off the centre court… and gets top advertisers to sign her on. Politicians aren’t far behind. Tony Blair was the last poster boy from Britain to exploit the power of imaging. David Cameron, the newly minted daddy, is learning rapidly. While here in India, only Shashi Tharoor seems to have mastered the art of projection, as anybody who saw him and his latest bride ,being gently pushed on a swing (traditional jhoola) dressed in wedding finery, will attest. That’s what is called the triumph of the spirit over nature.
But .. please dear God – can we get a few authentic gorgeous female icons to light up our lives ( and movie theatres) in place of the ridiculously gym toned, ruthlessly reassembled, comically dumb faced creatures we idiotically hold up and worship? It’s a little like settling for frozen yogurt over creamy ice cream. In other words, the audience is feeling short changed. Screen Goddesses, where are you?
Planning to watch 'We are Family' on thursday along with my own family! The promos are looking terrific. The subject is terrific ( and officially borrowed ). The star cast is terrific .... that leaves the actual movie! Let's see what Siddharth Malhotra has done with the subject. Watch this space for the verdict!