I watched Ek Tha Tiger on Independence Day. Period.
I watched Ek Tha Tiger on Independence Day. Period.
The strange case of Prachi Desai...
By any standards, Prachi Desai is a talented and beautiful young actress. And yet, her career in Bollywood seems to be going nowhere. Howcome? Here’s someone who had made her mark – and made it strongly – with Rock On! her debut movie, opposite an equally talented actor,Farhan Akhtar. She came to Bollywood as a gift from the world of television in which she had reigned as Soap Queen in the hugely successful Kasamh Se. As Ekta Kapoor’s darling, Prachi’s position on television was secure and supreme. Tv audiences adored the fresh faced Gujju girl, and she had countless panting male suitors ready to slash their wrists for her. Prachi was India’s comfort food - like ghar ka dhokla or Ba’s ghee-soaked thepla. She dressed demurely, spoke demurely, acted demurely. As Ekta’s arm candy and a permanent fixture at the tv Czarina’s frequent parties, Prachi had her future and fortune cut out for her. Suddenly, something went ‘phut’!’And today, one hardly sees Prachi. Or, let me be more specific, the old Prachi. The new avatar is unrecognisable. She has shed kilos ( so has Ekta), fired her stylist ( so has Ekta) and acquired a hot, new wardrobe ( so has Ekta). Prachi is seen in designer wear, carrying the latest ít’ bags and generally partying it up – not as Ekta’s constant escort, but on her own. Despite the strong signal being sent out to Bollywood film makers that she is finally flying solo, is single and ready to mingle, nothing seems to be happening on the career front. Which is really a pity. Prachi deserves better.
So.... if it ain’t happening for the Pretty Prachi, what’s wrong? Well, the way Bollywood works, either you align yourself to a powerful person - preferably Salman Khan - or to a powerful camp ( KJo). If you decide to take your chances on your own, good luck to you, honey! In Prachi’s case, there’s another factor. For too long she was identified as Ekta’s girl. That privileged position has its upside when the going is good and Ekta still fancies the person, but heaven help you if there is a falling out. Perhaps that’s what happened to our Prachi. One minute she was up there, feted and pampered by all. And here she is today, her skirts getting shorter and tighter... but still zero meaty roles coming her way . For whatever reason, our television stars have not managed the cross over and become mainstream . Whereas Bollywood stars have not just swamped television, they have decimated everybody in sight, especially when it comes to reality shows. Prachi, poor thing, falls awkwardly in between. Unlike some of the other Soap Queens who came after her, Prachi finds herself dangling in a grey zone, patiently waiting for that big break in Bollywood if and when it comes.
There’s something slightly odd about the careers of TV stars the world over. They live and die with the soaps they act in. No matter how many women the world over fantasised about Don Draper, the dapper ‘Mad Men’’ actor ( alas, I can only recall the character’s name!), no Hollywood studio will take a chance with that guy and put big money into a major movie starring him. Why? Will the same man project less sex appeal on the big screen? Or is it just his TV character - the Don Draper persona - women have flipped for - and not him? Ditto for the lovely ladies from ‘Pan Am’’ or the devastatingly handsome young star who plays Vinnie Chase of the older hit ‘Éntourage’? Do you remember or care who acted in ‘Gossip Girl’? This seems to be an international phenomenon and who’s to say why this is so? Often, I glance at pictures of parties thrown by exceedingly successful but largely anonymous Television stars in Mumbai and I immediately turn the page. Some of the actors are startlingly good looking, very well dressed and most presentable. Especially, the girls. And yet, Page 3 has no space for them ( unless, of course, they are paying for the coverage). Not a single international brand has signed up a TV star for an important endorsement so far – despite their vast fan base. No international fashion house wants to fly any of these actors to occupy front row seats during the Fashion Weeks in Paris or Milan. Given the reach and popularity of Television soaps, this is rather surprising. But regardless of their good looks and glamour, TV stars are horribly short changed and rarely given their due. P.R. companies speak disparagingly about ‘those TV- types”, and they simply don’t feature on anybody’s A-list. Society hostesses shun them and consider them a bit too down market to include at a swishy soiree. If they get to open boutiques or stores, those are generally located in Tier -3 cities, never in Mumbai or Delhi. Sponsors are happy to shell out serious money to one film old Bollywood star kids with zero talent , but shy away from hiring well-established, hugely successful soap icons. Poor Balika Vadhu looks almost comical when she’s not in costume and weeping buckets on the small screen as a child bride. I watched her in some dance show and my heart bled. I guess, that’s the end of her reign.
Let’s hope Prachi Desai doesn’t go the same way. She really is lovely. I once ran into her and Ekta at the airport in Goa . She went all coy and simpered away when we were introduced. Ekta looked proud and proprietorial – after all, she had created Prachi. The two of them were taking a break, and looked really happy together. Perhaps they can start afresh and Ekta can create a new vehicle for Prachi . Because, once upon a time in Mumbai, Ekta loved Prachi. Because, that’s what genial Godmothers are supposed to do for their protégées.Come on, Ekta – do it! Prachi... aur hum sab ke liye....