The actor who worked in movies like Pardes, Mahima Chaudhary revealed how she was accused of “throwing tantrums” by directors and producers, when she met with an accident while she was shooting for her third film. Speaking at the TOI Literature Festival in New Delhi, Mahima opened up on an array of issues women actors face in Bollywood and how a they are tagged “arrogant” for not agreeing to everything that they are told to do.
‘Faced no struggles as an outsider’
She said that she luckily did not face any struggle entering the industry as an outsider as she did a famous advertisement for Pepsi with Aishwarya Rai and Aamir Khan – successful actors in their own right at that time. It got her the recognition she needed to make it in Bollywood. Having many offers in her kitty she moved to Mumbai from Darjeeling in West Bengal where she grew up. However, she didn’t take up films right away but worked as a VJ.
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“The VJing gig made a lot of people spot me as Vinod Chopra and Feroz Khan offered me a film but I obviously chose Pardes opposite Shah Rukh Khan with Subhash Ghai,” she said, adding that her second film, which was Daag – The Fire also went on to be a hit. But her life changed when she was shooting for her third film by Prakash Jha with Kajol and Ajay Devgn (Dil Kya Kare) when she met with an accident when she was on her way to the shoot and a truck hit her car.
The life-changing accident
“The front glass of the car hit my face. The doctor said everything was fine except my face which was left all scarred. When I saw my face for the first time, I collapsed. When we watch such a scene in a movie, we feel it is overdramatic but it actually happened with me and I can vouch that it is not. I was at home for a whole year as I was not allowed to go in the sun. Eventually, I had to drop the projects that I had taken up.
And I did not want to tell people that this had happened to me. And I begged Ajay that my life and career was over but I don’t want to let go of the little hope that was still left within me. People would have said that my face is ruined now I can’t work, in those days. I am finished and whatnot. While today with social media, I would have been able to connect with the people and become a bigger star but at that time, I was buried,” she revealed.
Bollywood turning hostile
A year later, she returned to a hostile environment in the industry for her. “People called me moody for walking out last minute from a movie, returning the signing amount etc. People had determined a personality trait of me as I had suddenly become “arrogant” and “moody”. I had to fight all of that and so I started to do guest appearance roles in movies like Dhadkan, a song in Tere Naam, Baghban, etc.,” She recalled.
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Women tagged as “throwing tantrums”
SheThePeople.TV asked her about how women have to deal with name-calling for showing discomfort in a film scene etc. like recently Kriti Kharbanda was allegedly thrown out of a big-starrer movie because she objected on the relevance of an intimate scene.
To this Mahima said that she stands for such women actors. “We don’t have the Internal Complaints Committee in the film industry. I have also been thrown out of a lot of films last minute after being signed on because I raised my voice. There has to be some union that can protect women actors’ rights. I speak for the actor who has been thrown out of the film saying she is throwing tantrums. I have seen more male actors doing as they wish than female actors and they never get thrown out. So there has to be a regulatory body that puts an end to such arbitrary decisions and labelling of the women actors.”
“The front glass of the car hit my face. The doctor said everything was fine except my face which was left all scarred. When I saw my face for the first time, I collapsed”
However, she did add that things have gotten better with the help of social media as even the women actors can clarify their stand. She also spoke on the #MeToo movement that began with a former actor, Tanushree Dutta accusing Nana Patekar of sexual harassment during the shoot of a movie in 2008. “With the #MeToo movement, things are getting better for women because at least now women are speaking up. We have society’s support. We can put up a complaint on social media, we don’t have to visit the police station. It has definitely improved the situation of women.”
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