My Yahoo! Movies column, first published here.
As we brace ourselves for an intoxicating introduction to Poonam Pandey this week, it is just the right time to look back at sexy debuts. Every once in a while, we have had the privilege of meeting a sexy siren whose debut blew our minds. Sometimes, they made a mark. Sometimes, they went into oblivion.
Long before the breathless reporting of 24x7 news channels could glamourise Bollywood, we had a sexy siren called Rehana Sultana. She graduated from FTII and made a mark in her very first film, Dastak for which she won a National Award.
Her claim to fame (or notoriety) happened with her second film – the sexually explicit Chetna, where she played a prostitute. The film’s poster had hero Anil Dhawan framed between her legs, causing many a flutter in the society and the Censor Board. After Chetna, she acted in a few other movies – most of which ended up becoming ‘Adults Only’. She changed her surname to Sultan (from Sultana) and claimed that she had donated the A to the Censor Board to put on her films!
When Raj Kapoor decided to make a film on the pollution of Ganges, his Ganga started off in pristine white in the mountains of Uttarakhand – unsullied and nearly uncovered. Mandakini made an explosive debut in Ram Teri Ganga Maili by playing the title role, which had a series of revealing scenes – all of which the director attributed to art and symbolism.
The front stalls certainly did not mind the waterfall dances and lovemaking scenes, making Ram Teri Ganga Maili the biggest hit of Raj Kapoor’s career. Imagine – bigger than Bobby, bigger than Sangam, bigger than Shri 420 was Mandakini in a see-through white saree!
Hemant Birje played the title role in Tarzan but show me one hot-blooded male who names him ahead of his heroine in the film and I will show you, well, a liar.
Kimi Katkar sang, danced, bathed, writhed, moaned, emoted and promoted in Tarzan – making her easily the most active Jane in the history of the franchise. The jungle and waterfalls provided ample opportunity for Kimi to display her ample assets and she did not miss a single chance.
Continuing from there, Kimi became something of a ‘bold’ heroine that continued till one of her last roles – Hum, where she was happily dispensing (or not) kisses to Amitabh Bachchan in a dockyard bar.
If you think about it, Sonam was a Yash Chopra heroine in her debut film – Vijay. But instead of the trademark pastel chiffon saree, she was seen running on a beach in a shiny red bikini and the nation was agog. In a later interview, Yash Chopra regretted the scene as it was not necessary for the film. (At least he was honest enough to say so. Most directors and starlets seem to be believe bikini scenes are integral to the script!) Nevertheless, Sonam’s stardom was assured after this debut and in her short career, Sonam did a slew of bold-young-nymphet roles with much kissing and skin-show involved.
Flops are not rare in Bollywood. What is rare is the all-obliterating-not-a-shred-of-residue neutron-bomb-flop that destroys careers of pretty much everyone associated with it. Kaizad Gustad’s Boom was such a film.
Merging the story of an international crime syndicate with the Indian fashion industry, there were three supermodels at the heart of the story. The three actresses playing the leads were Madhu Sapre, Padma Lakshmi and – wait for it, oh damn you know it already – Katrina Kaif. Despite all the bare-and-dare acts and bejewelled bikinis, two of the three heroines never acted in another Bollywood movie. In fact, it was Madhu Sapre’s first and last movie. But what a booming debut it was!
Trivia Alert: The producer of Boom, Ayesha Shroff, also had a steamy debut in Bollywood as Mohnish Behl’s heroine in Teri Baahon Mein. Incidentally, that was her last film as well.
Bipasha Basu, after being a supermodel for some time, entered Bollywood with the Abbas-Mustan thriller Ajnabee. Touching briefly on the potentially explosive topic of wife swapping, the film had Bipasha Basu as the ‘bad girl’ though it did not break too many taboos. What broke the ‘hot valve’ was Jism, which came about a year later and established Bips as the ISO-certified femme fatale of Bollywood. Her bare back, her lissom legs, her chemistry with co-star (and then boyfriend) John Abraham were stuff Bollywood legends are made of.
And to think, she is doing ads for juices that don’t make you fat nowadays.
A few months after Bipasha came Reema Lamba. Reema who? Well, she changed her name to the more seductive (though this is debatable) Mallika Sherawat and promptly kissed her leading man seventeen times in Khwahish. Just when the nation had caught its collective breath, she reappeared in Murder opposite serial kisser Emraan Hashmi and broke the Hot-o-Meter. The smash hit song Bheege hont tere played on every music show multiple times as we were treated to Mallika’s bare-all acts near a swimming pool, on a skyscraper ledge, in a studio apartment and what not.
One of the latest entrants to the Hot Club was Jiah Khan, who debuted opposite Amitabh Bachchan in Nishabd and played the teen nymphet who seduced the sixty-something, happily married man. Her white shirt-and-a-hose-pipe act raised quite a few eyebrows as it was probably the only time among all his movies that the Big B succumbed to pure lust.Tragically, Jiah’s subsequent films and a turbulent personal life led to her suicide.