Mallika Sherawat first captivated Indian audiences and got the industry talking with 17 kisses and her steamy scenes in her debut film Khwahish (2003). She followed it up with Mahesh Bhatt’s Murder (2004) an erotic thriller which became a huge hit. The actor caught the attention of Jackie Chan, who cast her in the 2005 film The Myth, her first international outing. Over the years, Sherawat featured in ilms including Pyaar Ke Side Effects, Shaadi Se Pehle and also did a few cameos in films like Guru, Welcome and Aap Kaa Surroor.
Branded as bold and brazen, the actor started getting similar roles, which is one of the reasons that she has been away for the past few years, “Nothing interesting was coming my way. I was getting the same characters of playing a bold girl or it was for a dance number which was offering me good money but I didn’t want to do it. I am not interested in doing meaningless glamorous roles. If I continued doing it. I wouldn’t get some challenging parts. It was really important for me to get out of my comfort zone,” admits Sherawat.
Two decades into her career, the actor quite naturally is looking to reinvent herself. Sherawat decided to shift base to the US where she also decided to learn formal acting, “I wanted to work on a few things and pick up new things related to acting. A year before the pandemic, I enrolled for a course in acting in Los Angeles. It was really important for me to challenge myself as an actor as reinvention is the key in this age of OTT. “
The actor will make her OTT debut with MX Players Nakaab. Speaking about her character, Sherawat says, “This series investigates the hidden nuances of a glamorous industry. I play Zohra who is an inspiring single woman who is a ruthless and ambitious television producer and has a mysterious aura. It’s the kind of part I have never explored before and honestly, I feel it’s the role of a lifetime. For me it was the fantastic mysteriously layered character written by Soumik Sen that made me immediately take up the part. Also, it was a great experience to work with Esha Gupta and Gautam Rode who have been wonderful co-star. ”
Sherawat feels that OTT has broken many barriers and has allowed many actors, especially female artists, to explore better opportunities. “Even today, actresses are bound by a moral code in Indian cinema in mainstream Bollywood cinema. They are expected to look and act a certain way. It is a male-dominated industry with some great parts written for them. And that is how it functions across the globe. But with streaming platforms coming in we see some interesting roles coming in. OTT has been a real game changer for female actors.”
At the same time, the actor also feels that it will take some time before things really change for female actors in Bollywood. “We are growing as a society and the perspective is changing but it will still take a while. I am a huge fan of Vidya Balan and she was fantastic in Sherni. We saw films like Pagglait, Piku, Raazi. There are so many films being made in the industry, but very few are are led by female protagonists. But like I mentioned earlier, all kinds of stereotypes are being broken on OTT. We saw Shefali Shah who is of a certain age headline a series like Delhi Crime. I still can’t see an actor like Shefali Shah headlining a mainstream Bollywood film. It can’t happen.”
Ask her about her reinventing herself as an actor and what will the audience get to see in ‘Mallika Sherawat 2.0’ version and she says, “I don’t understand the social media lingos of 2.0 version. They are going to see a real bad**s, a bad b**ch on screen which I love (laughs).”