SPECIAL INTERVIEW – Mallika Sherawat



“If only you are ready to compromise on your principles, you will be able to instantly zoom far ahead in your career in the film industry”


It was worth trekking all the way from aamchi Mumbai to art director Nitin Chandrakant Desai’s magnanimous Studios at Karjat where among others a mega historical film like Jodhaa Akbar was shot, just to watch Mallika Sherawat in action as she was shooting for the film Naagmati. The film Naagmati is a period horror thriller being produced by V.Palanivel of Vaithiyanathan Film Gardens which had earlier produced successful Tamil films like 6’2”, Vathiyar and last but not the least Oram Po and directed by Tamil director V.C. Vaidivudaiyan. I caught up with the femme fatale Mallika Sherawat for this interview in the sweltering heat.

Mallika Sherawat with Jyothi Venkatesh

Tell me about your film Naagmati!

My film Naagmati is a period horror thriller in which I am playing a pivotal role that I had never played before. In fact I am essaying a double role for the first time in my career as a royal queen as well as the princess. The film is being shot in Hindi and Tamil but will be dubbed also in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. The queen Naagmati is trying to save her kingdom using violence and horror as her weapons. Whether she will be able to save her kingdom in the end forms the crux of the plot of the film, which will be shot extensively not only in Karjat but South Africa as well as Rajasthan.

How did you prepare for your part in the film Naagmati?

I confess that I made it a point to see films like Seeta Aur Geeta in which Hema Malini had essayed a double role.  The roles that I play in Naagmati are extremely challenging. It will be very tough but I think it has a lot of plus as well as minus points. It is good to have responsibilities on your shoulders when you play a leading lady in a film like Naagmati. The queen’s dreams are different from that of the princess, who is her daughter. The queen wants to protect the princess all the time and there are a lot of emotional clashes between the mother as well as the daughter.

What are the challenges that you have to face as an actress in Naagmati?

What sort of challenges will I have to face as an actress, I will be able to tell only after I start shooting for the film. I am extremely nervous as well as terribly excited because I am doing a double role for the first time in my career as an actress ever since I had made my debut with Khwaaish. I am very happy that slowly and steadily the tide is turning and female actors are also now getting good roles like the ones that I am doing in Naagmati which are at least being written for female actors now. Earlier they were written only for the male actors, when I was working in films like Murder. I am glad that times are now changing.

You once gave a controversial statement “Men talk to my breasts”. Have you mellowed over the years?

I have not changed at all or mellowed over the years, though I have lost out on so many meaty roles in my career only because I was not at all ready to compromise. I have lagged behind in Bollywood also because of the industry politics. If only you are ready to compromise on your principles, you will be able to instantly zoom far ahead in your career in the film industry.

Are you happy that you have bagged the role in Naagmati being in five different Indian languages?

Though I confess that I am extremely happy that this film which is being made in five Indian languages will enable her to reach a lot more of her fans all over the country, I  also admit that there is a lot of pressure even while I am getting a wider audience through these films for which I have to learn various Indian languages including Tamil, which I tried to learn when I was earlier working with Mani Ratnam in his Tamil film Guru as well as Kamalhaasan in his Tamil film Dasavatharam. Kamal Haasan is one actor-director who I’d call a genius as well as magician.

Is it only because you did not at all compromise on your principles that you have lagged behind in Bollywood or is it because you have always been frank as well as bold enough to proclaim what you feel are right without being scared of the repercussions?

To some extent I have learnt some valuable lessons and I am no longer brash when I talk. In the good old days when I had made my debut in Bollywood, there was absolutely no filter in my mind. Thodi akkal, thoda diplomacy ab mujh mein aa gayi hain over the years.

When you breezed in on the film  scene with Khwaaish, did filmmakers not know what to do with you or what kind of role you should be offered because you have always been a strong, opinionated actress with no inhibitions of ‘kissing on screen’ and were always comfortable in your own skin?

Today I confess that I am happy with the tremendous response that I am getting for my performance in the web series Naqaab which streamed on MX Players recently. I am glad that I was fortunately enough to be part of several path breaking films as an actor, whether it was Murder or Khwaaish. Today I am happy that times have changed and there are young and new writers raring to write wonderful woman oriented plots for actresses. Today undoubtedly it is the era of the web series of all kinds of genres. It is good for the industry because censorship is not there but then it has also automatically made us all more responsible than ever before as to what kind of content we have to dish out. In any case, I do not think that for the sake of titillation, we have scenes in the web series and also we are not school kids that we need censorship today.

Mallika Sherawat with Jyothi Venkatesh

Was you role as producer Zohra Mehra in the web series Naqaab modeled on Ekta Kapoor?

Mine was a very complex role in the series. When I decide to do a role, the last thing that bothers me is log kya kahenge? I accepted the role in Naqaab blindfolded because I knew I did not have anything to lose in the bargain as an actress. I feel that not taking a risk is by itself a bigger risk for an actress

Are you averse to a biopic being made on your life and times in Bollywood?

I do not think anyone has the guts to make an explosive biopic on me because today the filmmakers are not at all bold enough to show the kind of reality that women go through in places like Haryana from where I come from.

How do you manage to overcome the language barrier when you are acting in films in languages other than Hindi?

I like working in Naagmati because the director is sweet though he does not understand a word of Hindi. Also it is such a long period of time after I was part of a film like Hiss and after that I have not done any film of the same genre.

What exactly do you think of your journey in filmdom as an actress in the last 18 years?

I am glad that in my career, a vast majority of the films that I have done have been good. I am happy with my journey as I am economically very sound in the film industry today and have interacted with the likes of Derek Obama as well as Jackie Chan. I am educated and have attended a lot of International film festivals. What more could a young girl like me want to be and achieve”?

That is Mallika Sherawat for you folks. She is still as free , frank and muhfat as she has always been right from the time I had first met her when I spoke to her at the promotional interview of her maiden film Khwaaish in the good olden days.

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