If recent films flaunting heroines in bikinis do not raise eyebrows or cause a buzz like it did when my films like Dhoom and Dhoom 2 released, it’s because there’s nothing new to it. It’s only when something is not part of a regular culture, does it generate a lot of curiosity and excitement.
Do you find Hollywood making a big deal of bikini scenes in their films? It’s a regular aspect of their lives, and is perhaps, present in most of their films. Now compare the frequency of bikini scenes in Indian films, which has only gone up lately. Much before Dhoom, a history of bikini scenes can be boiled down to three instances — Sharmila Tagore being the first to pose in a two-piece for a magazine cover. It created a sensation. Then came Vyjayanthimala, who, given her strong classical Indian background, created a sensation when she stepped into a swimsuit for Raj Kapoor’s Sangam. Finally, Zeenat Aman, who made the biggest impact as she stepped out of the sea in a scintillating white bikini for Feroz Khan’s Qurbani. Given her western image, the actor has become synonymous with the attire. In fact, she was even seen walking the streets wearing a bikini teamed with a sarong in Dostana. Those three bikini scenes before Dhoom went up by numbers post the release of the film. And when there’s too much of something, it fails to create a stir. For instance, Salman Khan removing his shirt is no longer news today.
Why just bikini, there was a time when embracing or a hero touching a heroine was a big thing in the 1940s, and today a lip-to-lip lock between a lead pair is normal. The latter was a big deal when Aamir Khan kissed Karisma Kapoor in Raja Hindustani. Kissing scenes are now a part of Hindi films, it’s a different thing that only Emraan Hashmi got tagged as a serial kisser, even though everyone around him had being doing it for years.
Bikini is part of a lifestyle reflected in films, where it now gets weaved into a story. When I made Kidnap, there was a scene where Minissha Lamba is seen heading off to the sea after an argument,and she gets kidnapped while swimming. So, it’s obvious she’s going to be dressed in a bikini. It’s like a shaadi ka joda — a bride is expected to wear that when there’s a scene around a marriage.
The success of a bikini scenes also entail a lot of other factors like fitness and the actors involved. No two heroines will elicit the same reaction; each one comes with a different story to her. Sunny Leone’s ability to pull off a bikini in her film is not surprising; she has the confidence to pull it off. But Sonam Kapoor wearing a bikini in Bewakoofiyaan is something else as she has a different image. Even as a fashionista, she’s always so correct in the way she projects herself in films and outside it, so when she wears a swimsuit, there’s a certain amount of curiosity. It was the same with Esha Deol, who had a demure image before donning a bikini in Dhoom. But instead of wearing just the bikini, we made her wear a netting along with it to make it look sexier.
Anything different becomes a marketing tool for a film, even though as a film-maker I don’t see merit in making bikini scenes the USP of a film, not when I have a story to tell. If a bikini scene fails to generate interest today, then I won’t be surprised to see the trend veering to going topless or nude. But at an age when there’s so much exposure to entertainment around the world, trying to make a big deal of such things rings false. Especially when even kids have access to the set-top box and remote, and surf through various channels.
As told to Priya Sugathan