(Lovers fear noone, its people who are afraid of lovers)
—-Suraksha (Monica Bedi)
Especially if the lovers answer to the name of Abu and Monica.
I have always been fascinated by molls. I would like to make a distinction here between molls and vamps—molls are the villain’s girlfriend(s) while the vamp is simply an evil lady. A vamp can be the evil saas or the jilted lover and somehow I never had the hots for Lalita Pawar.
Molls however are a different kettle of fish. They are slinky, wear revealing clothes, condone the villain’s evilness, sometimes even help him, dance sensuously and most importantly do not demand exclusive attention from her man, leaving him free to enjoy the company of multiple molls.
In that sense, the ideal of the moll negates all the characteristics of the saccharine “good” girl—the one whom you can take home to mother. Which is precisely what makes her so exciting.
In this context, who can forget the great Ajit the “Loin” who sampled the simultaneous charms of Mona and Sona, with the active approval of both?Or the anonymous ladies in bikinis who would massage Danny as he lay on his pool chair clad in desi speedos ? Or for that matter Raveena Tandon’s smokin hot dance in “Aks” and sensual scenes with Manoj Vajpai (yuck)—the only bright spots in a cataclysm of a movie.
This explains my fascination with the only real life moll I have been privileged to see–Monica Bedi. Yes I know Mandakini became “maili” Big D “ke paap dhote dhote” but she was not really a moll in the classical sense of the term—in that she was not an active partner in the Company. Not interesting. And besides anyone who sings a song : ” I am sorry handsome there is no vacancy” takes herself out of the equation.
So that brings me back to the Bedi. I first saw her in the Saif-Sunil Shetty starrer “Suraksha” which enjoyed moderate fame because of two typical Anu-Malik songs:
“Kaali aankhon wali dekho dil yeh dharke,
Dil yeh dharke dharak dharak kar
Dil yeh bole
“O mere sanaam
O mere sanaam
Jal gayee duniya ek huye hum
Ek nahin, do nahin suraksha karo mere saathon janam”
Then came the breakout movie of Monica Bedi —“Khilona” where she played an innocent lass torn between the true love of her life, Ayub Khan and the villainous Aditya Pancholi, a mafia don who only wanted her as a “khilona”. Rather than the plot, I shall always remember this movie as the setting for the most marvelous song—
Panditji mera haath dekhkar
Baat karo mere haal ki
Abh tak saajan mila nahin
Jo huyee main solah saal ki”
What a beautiful expression of the insecurities of a 16 year old…waah bhai wah.
The producer of the movie was one Mukesh Duggal whose claim to faim besides making Sunil Shetty wear a tshirt with the word “Soda” on it and go “Hai huku” in the movie ” Gopi Kishan”, was that he had close mafia ties. In an eerie resemblance to the movie “Khilona”, Monica Bedi became the “especial friend” of this Duggal character.
A few forgettable movies followed—“Jeeyo Shaan Se” where she had a miniscule role and only one song in a badminton get-up and another one in “Janam Samjha Karo”.
Then Mukesh Duggal goes down in a hail of bullets . Unlike most other heroines of her ilk (Madhoo for example), Monica Bedi does not then join Mithunda’s alternative movie world in Ootie. She simply vanishes. Not many notice. I do.
It is reported much later that she then became Abu Salem’s “wife” and business partner—brokering deals with Bollywood and basically acting as his “man” on the inside. In sharp contrast to the air-headed bimbette-caught-in-the-headlights roles she essayed in movies, Monica Bedi was reputed to be an extremely smart, business savvy woman who provided the brains behind Salem’s muscle operations.
But Ms Bedi’s true calling was greasepaint. She suddenly came out of her hibernation and onto the marquee of two big budget movies—Jodi No 1 and Pyar Ishq aur Mohabbat. Rajiv Rai, the director of Pyar Ishq aur Mohabbat was attacked by the Salem gang and making Monica Bedi a heroine was a peace offering.
We all know the rest. The flight to Portugal. The arrest. Her tearful appeal to the President for clemency. Her telling the courts that she was afraid to go back to the barbarian country of India where she would be tortured and horrifying indignities heaped upon her (like making her watch her own movies in a loop). She even claimed to have converted to Christianity in order to please the Portugese.
But like all her movies, it didnt work. She is back now in India charming anyone and everyone pretending to have been a pawn in Abu Salem’s big game. But we know better, dont we !
The only jarring tone was when she after her arrest and seperation from Mr Abu, in Hindi filmi wifely fashion, kept asking all and sundry if her husband was all right.
Come on, that’s totally out of character for a moll. She should just smile and move onto the next thing.
But then again, concepts like “staying in character” may be alien to her.
After all, acting was never one of her strengths.