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Bend it like, well, Meghna!

Her debut venture may have sunk at the box office and with it her budding career. But four years after "Prem Aggan", Meghna Kothari is making waves all over again. This time with Gurinder Chadha's "Bride and Prejudice", informs MONOJIT LAHIRI.. . .


WHAT DO you say of a beautiful, glamorous and talented young actress, high on life and yearning to demonstrate her commitment to her calling - if only she got the right break! Meghna Kothari, despite being burnt by the raging and rampaging fires in the disastrous "Prem Agann" remains a passionate optimist. An exemplary example of "what fire cannot burn, it strengthens'', she refuses to look back in anger, or disgrace. On the contrary she believes she was extraordinarily lucky to have got such a stupendous break with a hi-profile film-maker like Feroz Khan in a crucial project that was designed to launch his son, Fardeen Khan.

"Both Feroz Uncle and Fardeen were wonderful right through generating very high comfort levels. The set-up was real cool too and everybody was extremely supportive, encouraging and helpful at every turn. For a raw new-comer to the arc-lights like me, that was a major confidence factor." Was there any favouritism or `special' treatment in terms of role, scope or length for the star son? "I don't think so! Feroz Uncle is far too professional to mix family affairs with his work. Fardeen was the lead, yes, but had to stick to his script and slog just as hard as everyone else. Maybe harder, because he was the boss's son and therefore under greater pressure to deliver the goods."

And then came the bad news...Meghna sighs and demonstrates amazing maturity for someone her age. "It will be a lie to say that the film's non-success didn't affect me. Fact is, unlike the other established actors and even Fardeen, it probably hit me the hardest. A flop heroine is bad news in the movie business and most people are not interested in rationale, logic or any explanation. It is a superstition-driven industry and it's a rare, bold, new-age director who dares to be different, dismiss failures as a facts of life and demonstrate confidence in breaking new ground."

Today, after four long years of patience, waiting for the right break, hoping to connect with a film-maker with a strong mix of intuition and intelligence and willing to push the envelope, Meghna Kothari has struck gold! Way beyond paranoia-struck Bollywood hysterically banking on established big names, she's been signed on by the flavour of the day - red-hot, celebrity film-maker Gurinder ("Bhaaji on the Beach", "Bend it like Beckham) Chadha in her latest project, "Bride and Prejudice", a `Punjabised' version of the Jane Austen classic.

Powered by the likes of Ashwarya Rai, Namrata Shirodkar and Nadira Babbar, it will be Meghna's magnum-opus - a true show-piece opportunity to exhibit such histrionic skills unlikely to be extracted by stilted, stereotype Bollywood.

Go for it, girl, we're on your side.

MONOJIT LAHIRI

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