Ever since Ram Gopal Verma ki Aarrgghh [credit where credit is due: Raja Sen] was released, everybody keeps asking the same question: why did he make it? I think I know the answer.
He’s trying to get rid of Nisha Kothari.
Above is a clip of his latest “muse” Kothari… er, hopping around with his favorite chikna Fardeen Khan. This post is really about Kothari but I’d first like to pause and throw a question out there regarding Fardeen: What’s the attraction?
I don’t think it’s available online, but around the time Jungle came out, I remember Verma giving this amazing interview to Filmfare in which he said (and I paraphrase): People keep casting Fardeen and expect him to act. He doesn’t know how to act. But he looks good. I take advantage of his looks and don’t expect him to act.
Quite apart from the utter, unlooked-for frankness of that reply, which immediately made me a Verma fan for life irrespective of whatever crap his movie Factory likes to churn out, I thought that was a pretty fair assessment. Very practical. Not everybody can act, some of us are just decorative. It’s a fact of life. If you can incorporate that into your movie instead of fighting futilely against it, then that’s the smart thing to do.
Of course, it’s another matter entirely that I don’t find Fardeen in the least bit goodlooking. But then I’m not in the market for tubby chubbies with a well publicized coke habit. It’s not that I think fat junkies should be shipped off to gulags or anything, it’s just that I have different requirements of matinee idols. He might be the salt of the earth offscreen but if he’s being billed as the manmeat of the day, then I’d like to order something else off the menu, please.
In any case, when Indians say this person or the other is goodlooking, what they mean most of the time is: they’re fair skinned. My favorite example being Karisma Kapoor. That makeup is magic is more than borne out by her before and after pictures (before and after Raja Hindustani, that is. I guess Aamir Khan took one look at those bushy eyebrows and refused to act with a girl who looked more manly than he did. Ah, the old, pre-divorce, pre-alarmingly cinematic Aamir – the pinnacle of chikna-dom).
So Fardeen. Not very attractive. Can’t act. But Verma likes him. And thus, Kothari. Not very attractive. Can’t act. Keeps in shape. Will bare said shape. Verma likes her.
Except, riddle me this: who in their right mind looks at someone they like and sets them up for the fall of the century?
And excuse me, but Aag was exactly that. It’s easy to dismiss the role of Basanti in Sholay as an airhead but that sort of overlooks a couple of things:
One, Basanti was the stand-out female role in what was very much a guy movie. Radha was a pivotal character, no doubt, but she wasn’t the standalone character that Basanti was. And she isn’t half the Bollywood icon, complete with memorable dialogues (rather rare for female characters), that Basanti remains to this day.
Secondly, Hema Malini wasn’t some inexperienced actress struggling to make her mark when she played Basanti. Not only was she a very successful actress by the time she signed on to Sholay, comic characters were her specialty. Anyway, the relationship between Veeru and Basanti wasn’t remarkable for its romance or sexual chemistry in the first place – it was the comedy that cemented it in movie history.
So, here’s my take on why Ramu cast Nisha Kothari: one, everybody else turned him down; two, he has it in for her.
Of course, this is pure conjecture on my part. The reason could be as simple as the fact that he honestly thought she was the best person for the job. Anything’s possible. But it’s a lot more fun to think she was set up. Here’s what Rajeev Masand had to say about her performance:
But the film’s weakest link, easily the most shocking casting decision is Nisha Kothari as Ghunghroo, who steps into the shoes of Hema Malini as Basanti, the endearing airhead from Sholay. Nisha Kothari is not only the worst actress in this country, but possibly the worst actress in this whole wide world, she gives the word annoying a whole new meaning, and she makes you want to slit your wrists every time she’s on screen.
And, because I can’t resist, below is the Japanese song they ripped off for the Nisha-Fardeen number above. It’s called Want Me Want Me by Namie Amuro and while I don’t know what she’s singing in Japanese, the English lyrics are completely genius! You’ve probably heard the tune a hundred million times before though coz it’s been ripped off so often. Warning: not for the easily shocked. 😳