Mandakini: India’s original wet dream…

Mandakini: India’s original wet dream…

    The beauteous Mandakini (Ram Teri Ganga Maili) is leading a life of conventional domesticity these days. There goes a huge male fantasy! She is married to a professional man and has a couple of young children. I find that difficult to visualise. It’s impossible to imagine a gorgeous, glamorous former moll entering a kitchen to cook a meal for her hubby, like the nondescript housewife next door.
    For, not so long ago, Mandakini allegedly used to share her life with a bad boy (the baddest!). Perhaps she cooked biryani for him, as well. Even bad boys need to eat between eliminating enemies. Bad boys experience pangs of hunger that extend beyond the carnal variety. Bad boys too need to satisfy their pet ki bhookh occasionally. And what better than going back to the den for a scrumptious meal cooked by a sensational looking mistress?
    I was thinking about the daily routine of these mysterious ladies and wondering how exactly they filled those long hours while they waited for their dangerous boyfriends to come back in one piece after a mission impossible. Did they sit there wondering, “Should I make nalli nihari or dum biryani? Malpuas or phirni?” Sounds absurd. But when one examines the life led by say, Mandakini back then, this could well have been her script. Once, she had opted out of Bollywood and disappeared into the great unknown, little was known about her whereabouts, till she resurfaced in Mumbai years later, but in an entirely different, very domesticated avatar.
    Today, she leads a quiet, unremarkable existence away from the spotlight. And has chosen to entirely distance herself from old Bollywood associates.
    I remember speaking to her over the phone a couple of years ago. I was trying to persuade her to meet me…. and had almost succeeded. She seemed pretty eager and said she’d check with her husband and let me know. Fair enough. And when she mentioned her husband, she was not referring to the D-Man. When I called back the next day, she’d changed her mind. She mentioned her kids and other sensitive issues. I totally and instantly understood — Mandakini had become a bona fide haus frau and did not want to revisit the murky past. I let it go and tried to picture the once stunning beauty packing lunch dabbas and serving spicy kebabs to her kids and miyan. That visual didn’t work for me. I was also a victim of stereotyping.
    We imagine molls — even retired ones, to lead a charmed, protected, ultra luxurious life. I can only think of Mandakini as we all remember her — an incredibly sensual water nymph in a clinging wet saree. Despite the fact that nothing was left to the imagination and her white saree was designed to cling to the right places and expose other vital ones, Mandakini’s triumph was the fact that she managed to retain a certain innocence, despite being semi-nude (nipples clearly on view even in that puritanical zamaana.). It was, of course, Raj Kapoor’s special talent to strip his leading ladies and yet project them as virginal, untouched Goddesses, incapable of anything more provocative than pouting at the hero. Yet, Mandakini was briefly India’s most tantalising temptress. Raj Kapoor ensured he had created one more unforgettable siren out of an unknown starlet. The life of a sex symbol is necessarily short lived. Perhaps it was just as well that Mandakini didn’t meet me. Let the collective fantasy stay. Mandakini was and shall remain the curvaceous nymph under a waterfall — India’s original wet dream.
    Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai Dobaara, produced by Balaji Motion Pictures, releases August 15.

Mandakini
Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha