Before Mere Khayalon Ki Mallika premiered last week,the foxy Mallika Sherawat was in the news when she announced airily that she was going to sing Happy Birthday for Narendra Modi. Presumably modelled on Marilyn Monroes seductive and breathless rendition to JF Kennedy,Sherawat’s was a very out of tune,half-hearted attempt. Nevertheless,she was instantly trending on Twitter and entirely unfazed by the snarky comments flying her way. “SheraWTF!” was the nicest of them all.
However,you have to hand it to the girl from Rohtak who made it to walking the red carpet in Cannes,posing for pictures with Jackie Chan in LA,and along the way,being referred to by the Western Press as Bollywoods Bardot. Sherawat has seized every opportunity that’s come her way,whether it’s performing a record 17 kisses in her first film or mouthing occasional profundities like she thinks India is a very regressive and depressing nation for women”. Maybe the 36-year-old Sherawat has nuptials on her mind which is why she’s hosting the desi version of The Bachelorette,which had 1,27,000 young men applying to become her partner in life.
Only,judging by Sherawat’s career trajectory and personal life,it seems she harbors a sneering contempt for the highly unambitious state of marriage. Unless,of course,like right now,when she’s getting paid for it. In Mere Khayalon…,Sherawat strides along confidently,coolly appraising her simpering suitors who seem to be bending over backwards to ingratiate themselves with her. You get the feeling that while Sherawat slyly flirts with them and plays to the audience with practiced melodrama,she’s actually thinking there are worse ways to make a living than bestowing a smile on a grateful man. And even if,for a moment,you buy into the romantic promise that,after all that globetrotting and being celebrated as the hot bombshell from Rohtak,maybe,just maybe,Sherawat is happy to settle down with a model from Punjab (the producers of the show would have us believe Sherawat has already chosen a contestant,Jashn Singh) you can only laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Reality TV thrives on unscripted drama. Watching people unravel in real time can be morbidly fascinating,and clever producers know it’s a guilty pleasure many of us happily partake in. Viewers hate themselves for getting sucked into a corny show but watch it anyway,if for nothing else,just to marvel at its silliness,again and again. However,it has to ring true to draw you in. On this show,Sherawat looks like she’s only there because it was her best option to stay in the limelight,and the contestants seem like they’re using her to get a lucky break.
Considering it’s a search for a soulmate,there’s not one real conversation that takes place. Apparently,it doesn’t occur to Sherawat to ask a 25-year-old or the 60-year-old contestant,why they think they would make a compatible couple. Never for a moment does Sherawat let us believe that the show is anything but a mockery of marriage and we,dim-witted viewers. If you go by previous matchmaking shows,they have an abysmal record of successful relationships. No one even remembers Rahul Dhulania Le Jayega or what happened to the wedding on Shaadi 3 Crore Ki. It’s the secret of provocative TV programming on couplings,to concentrate on the here and now,the lead up to marriage. After that in any case,reality sets in.