Fatal Phirangi Attraction

Bollywood is the ultimate wet dream for its zillion fans — no question about it. The scale and depth of its impact on its devotees across the globe has, in recent times, forced even Hollywood to pause, take notice and make the right (politically correct) sounds. In fact the west’s serious engagement with the B-town product — hi-decibel emotions, color-drenched song-dance freakouts, operatic-in-feel-n’-grandeur — took off in 2004 when gorgeous British brunette Sophie Dahl did her slinky number in a film entitled King of Bollywood. The film bombed, big time and Dahl’s desire to become the dahl-ing of the masses suffered a deadly blow.

Barbara Mori and Hritik Roshan 

Over time, post the Dahl-calamity, tons of phirang hotties have continued to grace the Bollywood screen, with spectacular and unbelievably diminishing returns. From Antonio Bernath (Kisna) Annabelle Wallace (Dil Jo Bhi Kahey) and Jelena Jakovljevic (Popcorn Khao, Mast Ho Jao) to Denise Richards (Kambakkht Ishq) to Naomi Campbell (Karma Confessions & Holi) and Barbara Mori (Kites), it’s been a long and tragic tale of Operation Bomb!

However, this has not discouraged our B-town guys to lay off. No once bitten, twice shy stuff for them. Super-stud Salman Khan, riding high on his Dabangg success, is reportedly busy green-lighting 24-year old Hazel Keech. Born to Indian British parents and based in London, the young dazzler, took inspiration from her Indian mom’s roots and enrolled in a Bollywood dance academy. An extra on Harry Potter’s second, third and fourth series of films, Rose Dawn (her real name) appeared very serious and determined to get into movies somehow. On a vacation in Mumbai six years ago, she was blown away by the opportunities available to pursue her dream and quickly grabbed invitations to do a slew of TV commercials and a role in a Tamil film entitled Billa. Trained in Bharat Natyam, Kathak, Jazz, tap-dance, ballet, hip-hop and a bit of belly-dancing, she earned quite a name at age 19 for allegedly rocking to the famous, evergreen number Kahin Pe Nigahen. The London-based babe is also taking Hindi diction classes from Vidur Chaturvedi for Khan’s brother-in-law Atul Agnihotri’s re-make of the Malayalam super-smash Bodyguard. With Salman Khan as your mentor, half the battle is won, right?

Hazel is only the first of the recent fresh crop of imported dazzlers to hit B-town 2011. Miss Teen World 2009 Amy Jackson — another UK import — is all set to make her masala-movie debut opposite the sexiest dhobi in town, Prateek Babbar. Signed to play female lead by director Gautham Menon for a Hindi remake of his 2010 Tamil mega successful Vinnai Jhaandi Varuvaaya (Will you cross the skies and come for me), her voice however will be dubbed. A romantic, mushy, moony tale involving a Hindi Tamil boy and Syrian Christian Malayali girl, how the UK sizzler will be an “appropriate fit” remains a closely guarded secret!

Naomi Campbell (right) in Karma Confessions & Holi 

With Amy coming into his screen life, young Prateek has earned himself the enviable reputation of being the first Indian actor to romance two foreign beauties. In Rohan Sippy’s Dum Maro Dum, Smita Patil’s son does his number with Brazilian bombshell Mariah Gomes (best remembered for her sizzling Neeyat gyrations in the forgettable Teen Patti). Next up is Nargis Fakhri, the gorgeous Czech-Pakistani model making her debut in Imtiaz Ali’s much-touted Rockstar opposite dreamboy Ranbir Kapoor. She is followed by Ariadna Cabrol, a Spanish phataka expected to thrill and surprise, in equal measure, in Zoya Akhtar’s, Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara. She shares screen space with Hrithik Roshan, Katrina Kaif, Abhay Deol and Kalki Koechln. Not bad, huh? Last, but not the least, Ximena Rosette. A mind-blowing show-stopper, the current Miss Universe is a hugely popular Mexican model, hotly tipped to play heroine opposite Salman Khan in Partner-2, whenever it kicks off.

Point is: why does this look-west craze (despite its scary history) continue for our film-makers — and look-east obsession, grab the phirang hotties? Film Critic Partha Chatterjee offers an interesting insight: “Contrary to popular belief, it has little to do with the poor track record indicated. If they haven’t impacted the film or audience, the fault lies squarely on the filmmaker and his intent in using this creature effectively. More often than not, the very intent is suspect, because it is consciously to add spice and present these hotties in a voyeuristic way. That clearly has not worked, at all. Unless these women are weaved into the fabric of the storyline in a convincing way, they will continue to be ignored. The moment that is done (remember Giselle Monterio in Love Aaj Kal?) it is going to succeed.”


Chatterjee could well be right. With the communication explosion, white flesh is no longer a big deal for 2011 Indian movie-watchers. To meaningfully fashion these imports so that they add value to the cinematic narrative, is both the critical issue and the challenge facing B-town. Until that happens, this cavalier and flamboyant recruitment of phirang hotties to heat up the desi temperature will remain where it belongs — the deep freeze!


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