A few weeks ago, if Neetu Chandra had walked down a crowded street, chances are nobody would have recognized her. Even after a few releases, people are likely to ask “Neetu who?”
And now, those who glaze at the tabloids or surf the net, know of her, since she has acquired some kind of dubious celebrity status by posing for ‘steamy’ pictures with another model, similarly undressed, for a men’s magazine. There was some minor protest against the obscene pictures, but of course, those who object to this sort of ‘hot’ expression of female sexuality are old fuddy duddies! Neetu Chandra may not ever make it as an A-list actress, but she has walked into the trap of turning herself into a cheap pin-up for males to slobber over while believing she is being ‘bold’.
Somewhat similar is the stance of the new bunch of models and beauty queens who are getting into films. It’s not talent or commitment they are boasting off, but their varying degrees of ‘hotness.’ Which, translated into normal industry language means, the one who shows most skin is the hottest one.
Some of them say in various interviews that their “boldness” is indicative of the New Heroine who is not afraid to flaunt her sexuality. If they think boldness means stripping for the camera, then these girls have got it all wrong. And they have appropriated the feminist jargon about “expressing sexuality” without knowing what it means.
A woman who drops her clothes is not bold, a woman who stretches herself to the limits of her potential despite all odds is bold. Kalpana Chawla was bold, Medha Patkar, Kiran Bedi, Shabana Azmi, maybe Sania Mirza, are bold. Does anyone even remember Katy Mirza? And she was once a Playboy girl! Women expressing their sexuality is way beyond the scope of our films, all they can do is prance about in minimal clothing, and boast of a size zero figure.
Mallika Sherwat’s in-your-face sexiness hasn’t got her too far. Getting into a bikini didn’t make Minissha Lamba a superstar either. All these Celinas, Riyas and Laras, are doing is turning themselves into live bait to get the lumpens into the hall. After two or three movies that lure doesn’t work and a new bunch of hotties comes along, willing to show even more skin and pose for even more lascivious photos. If skin showing worked, then Sherlyn Chopra would have been a superstar! It has been seen, however, that once an actress does make it big – like Kareena Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Bipasha Basu, Katrina Kaif and Deepika Padukone, then having a toned body helps them to stay ahead, but they have more talents to offer than just bikini bodies.
Which is not to say actresses should go back to being doormats in purdah. But boldness lies in characters they portray on screen, in the lifestyle choices they make. Preity Zinta or Aishwarya Rai don’t go around posing in bikinis, and they are respected for what they are.