Actor Mallika Sherawat is back, this time with a hard-hitting thriller series ‘Nakaab’ that talks about the death of an actor followed by a blame game and a drug angle. Sounds familiar? The storyline reminds one of the incidents that shook the entertainment industry last year right? Well, for Mallika, the show is a reflection of what’s happening in the society.
“Nakaab is even more relevant today because of what’s happening around us, the death last year and again this year, and that’s what we are showing in the series so it’s very relevant and youth would relate to it,” she told Opoyi.
Mallika says that “everybody is very curious about the people who work in the industry.”
“People are really obsessed with their favourite celebrity and star and even they want to know the minutest details of what their favourite celebrity goes through. As a society, we have become very voyeuristic. We want a camera in the bedroom and in the bathroom. We want all the details and this is what is shown in the series. It’s exactly a reflection of what’s happening today,” she added.
Mallika plays the role of TV and film producer Zohra Mehra in the MX player series that is set to release on September 15.
“When I got the role for Zohra Mehra, I actually fell in love because she is such a badass, she really kicks ass. This was important for me to do because such roles with so much layering of grey characters, it's not written in mainstream Bollywood cinema. In the Mainstream Bollywood cinema, the films I have done were either I got to do very glamorous roles or you are playing a bahu or sati Savitri Bhartiya Nari. Parts like this where are these written for female actors so this was majorly one of the reasons and Soumik Sen is a brilliant director. I love ‘Gulaab Gang’ and working with him was such a revelation because he was so good with actors,” she said.
Talking about Nakaab, it’s right to say that everyone is wearing one in the current time and coming from an industry that has often made headlines for the wrong reason recently, what’s the one thing she wants the entertainment world to change?
She says that she would love to welcome it if the industry changes its mindset on how they treat women in the industry.
“How the roles are written for them in the industry. Also, if our entertainment industry stops doing this gap between men and women. There are different rules for men and different rules for women and that’s where the Naakab comes in because everyone is wearing nakaab in terms of when they are dealing with the female personality and when they are dealing with a male.
“Men can get away with anything, it’s a different personality but if there’s a death of a male actor then the tendency is to blame his girlfriend or his wife. Women are being blamed for everything and that’s why also Nakaab is so relevant because it’s very similar for example women are being blamed for things they have not done, how fair is it, the role of social media is playing in shaping perception, the role media or new channel is playing in shaping perception and the fact that a part of media is benefitting from people’s pain, is exploiting people's personal and private loss.
“So it’s the right time now that we as a society should reflect on these issues and it’s very beautifully portrayed in ‘Nakaab' but in a very entertaining manner,” she said.
Mallika, known for having a bold attitude, made her debut with ‘Jeena Sirf Merre Liye’ (2002). She was critically acclaimed for her roles in ‘Kwahish’ (2003) and ‘Murder’ (2004). When asked if Bollywood has been fair to her after two decades in the industry, she said, “I think Bollywood has been really kind and good to me. It’s always an evolution for any society. When I started off, kissing was a big taboo in the industry, all the actresses were extremely coy, and reserved so when I came in, I was very bold and bindaas and said I am not going to apologize for kissing onscreen or wearing a bikini onscreen.
“These things were not very commonly talked about. That was also a few years back but now if you look, that has become very common and perception has really opened up. As a society also we are more accepting of forward-thinking independent women. So I look it as evolution really,” she said.
However, she said that “yes at the time some conservative filmmakers were afraid to cast me because they didn’t know what to do with actors like me- this bold, bindaas who doesn’t have any inhibitions onscreen if she believes in the script.”
“.. but now the same director have become very open-minded. Nakaab wouldn’t have been made 10 years ago to show a woman who is abusing, smoking, and using men and throwing them away. We didn’t see such characters in Hindi cinema back then so its evolution as a society and I think right now is the very golden period for the female actor because OTT is a game-changer,” she said.
Giving an example of Shefali Shah, she said, “You look at her character in ‘Delhi Crime’. She is my favourtie example. She did it so well despite the subject being so sensitive. You would have never imagined that in mainstream Bollywood cinema, a woman of her age will carry that look. It was unheard of. In Bollywood cinema, you need those 19-20-year-olds who are glamorous, running around trees and professing love.”
Mallika has also worked in Hollywood so if she has to compare both the industry, what are key elements she can think of?
“There is really not much difference. It’s just the fact that they have bigger budgets, they can afford things, and all that their perception towards women. How they treat and portray women even on the red carpet and in cinema. They are much more open-minded and accepting of a woman unlike in our country but otherwise, there is really not much difference.
“We have great writers if you look at Delhi Crime or Scam. It’s really top-notch work by writer and director so creatively we are right up there. It’s just the budget that we are kind of lose out on a few things,” she sums up.