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|June 21, 2001||
Namrata'a gamble for meat
At first glance, Namrata Shirodkar is typical of that catwalk species from model town. The epitome of makeovers and good grooming, with the mandatory tiara of semiprecious stones, a trinket from her Miss India days.
Don't be fooled.
Even her minimalist approach to aspiration is just a blind. She may seem smug with life's small graces, but the lady has big technicolour dreams. Seemingly content to take a few nimble steps, Namrata has made a living playing the second fiddle in glowbiz.
But Nams is no vacuous doll.
She's biding her time, waiting in the wings for that role of a lifetime.
Till then, why not be saleable, durable? She rationalises, ''Let's be honest. Hindi film heroines hardly get roles of substance. When they do, they take it or stick around with the routine.
"I like comedy films and would love to do one. On the other hand, I don't mind the length of the role. For instance, Pukar and Vaastav. I wasn't there from the beginning to the end in either of the films. You can leave an impact even with a five-minute scene.''
Meanwhile, she moves with the flow, inwardly waiting for that chiming Cindrella hour. Maybe it's a chess game for her. Slow to move but quick to the bait. There are no starry sulks or tantrums. Only a raring-to-go actress and a courteous soul.
It was with Vaastav and Pukar that Namrata first broke water in Hindi cinema.
In Vaastav, she etched an amazing performance in her two-bit role as the garishly painted woman of our great human bazaar, the Kothawali. To see one of our Anglicised young things spitting coarse galiwali Hindi is a substantial switch.
Namrata revealed to a website recently, ''I don't have career strategies. After Pukar and Vaastav, I was thrilled that people liked me as a performer. That has got me going and giving my best. I am getting a lot of offers, but I would rather not do ten films which are not that great as far as roles go.
"I would rather do five which give me satisfaction as an actress. I would like to be in the list of serious actresses. I want to be associated with good work and people. But this is not to be interpreted as I won't do any song and dance roles."
She gets into the skin of peripheral roles without complaint -- the heroine's sidekick, the other woman, the trollop, the cast-off girlfriend after the hero's heartbeat gives his gaming hormones a chastising shove.
It's a gamble. That meaty role she is waiting to sink her teeth into may just be a handspan away, she hopes.
Remember her as the curvaceous, all-heart good girl who was left with a love-child sans marriage in Jab Pyaar Kisise Hota Hai? You wonder why she opts for such roles. Well, to keep that telegenic face fresh in producers-directors memory.
Nams gambles, finetunes her craft with whatever is on offer. She's learning on the job, making the best of what she gets.
The good part is not being taken seriously has a bright side too -- she's is not under pressure to perform.
She also hasn't succumbed to doing the hot number in films like younger sis Shilpa, who did get more than her fair share of attention. But the irony is, such roles come with a two-minute shelf life. Shilpa disappeared overnight -- cleavage, thunder thighs and all.
Very few can do what Karisma did, rising to meaningful roles after compromising earlier on with petty Sarkailo khatiya and Sexy sexy numbers.
Namrata for her part has staunchly steered clear off the lure of such skin-deep numbers. She is well ensconsed in the movie-business. She's also a familiar face in the award nites and starry event management shows, dancing the night away on stage.
She even has a decent hamper of films for now: '' I have signed up two films with Mahesh Manjrekar. I have Mahesh's home production called Kabhie Dhoop Kabhie Chhaon, a remake of his award-winning film, Aai. It also costars Rekhaji.
"Then I have Tere Mera Saath Rahen with Ajay (Devgan) and Sonali (Bendre), directed by Mahesh again. I also have Tinnu Anand's next film with Sunil Shetty which is a thriller. I have my hands full with five good films!'' she chirps.
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