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A better Bedi

Mandira Bedi will don a new avatar for the ICC Champion's Trophy


MANDIRA BEDI is set to cast her magic spell on viewers again. Only this time in a different wardrobe. The talking point is Bedi's new avatar for the upcoming ICC Champion's Trophy to be held in England from September 8.

The last time she played her Extraa Innings, she was at her irreverent best, so said cricketing pundits appalled by her apparent lack of knowledge about the game, and her clothes (or lack of them). This time the Bedi babe is determined to change the shape of things. She is fast brushing up her basics and one can expect a sensible question or two this time round.

"Haven't decided on my wardrobe yet but its certainly going to be nothing like it was last time," says Mandira on whom a certain television channel had spoofed a Mandira Body and Extra Fittings. Does it mean a definite no-no to `body' language?

"Agreed my clothes drew a lot of flak but they were not outrageous or worn with any intent of sleaze. Only the way I dressed up was perhaps incorrect for the setting I was in," she says with characteristic composure.

Sharing screen space with cricketing greats for six whole weeks in South Africa has effected a 360-degree turn in Mandira's life. "It opened up new doors for me. Suddenly I found myself flooded with work, utterly consumed, working back-to-back nearly 22-hours a day. Although there came by more money than I could spend, I had almost begun to miss myself when I recalled lessons live programming had taught me. Pacing myself, I learnt to own up, acknowledge mistakes and enjoy every bit of life. It was as if I was re-born, a mellowed Mandira, who religiously follows an hour-long exercise/yoga regimen, attends motivational lectures and spends quality time in solitude."

Bedi's conservative upbringing still restricts her going overboard. "Rarely will you find me indulging in extravagance. My middle-class values are so deep rooted that more than pubs, it is the sweet tea served in earthen pot (bhati in Bengali) - boiled for hours in ancient brass urns in the streets of Kolkata - that gives me more joy."

Mere mention of Kolkata cuts across Mandira's mind a vista of nostalgic responses. "I was born in the City of Joy," she says with a disarming smile. "Then the scene shifted to Mumbai." A product of Cathedral Convent, South Mumbai, Mandira went on to graduate in Economics from St. Xavier's, Mumbai.

Being naturally athletic, sports were an extension of her self. "I played squash, table tennis, gymnastics and even galli cricket. My father Gurmeet Singh however, always used to tell my brother, Harmeet and me that education is the chief weapon for middle class in India, and we had to do well to make the family proud."

Very few know that Mandira cracked CAT to win a seat in one of the IIMs. "But I chose a one-year programme in Sophiya College on Social Communication in Media instead, as my quintessential gregarious persona would help me more." Prahlad Kakkar spotted her soon enough, and Mandira was destiny's child.

A copywriting job, a hugely appreciated role in Shanti and subsequent film offers came by almost naturally. Extraa Innings followed, and Bedi finally defined the way cricket is perceived in the country.

So what if a certain noodle strap oozed oodles of oomph, an increase in TRPs is what it boiled down to. And if the svelte Mandira Bedi has given the character of cricket a makeover where it no longer bonds with women as an activity they had passionately abandoned but as a game they now seem kicked about, - she can be let off for the unneeded touch of glamour she gave to the gentlemen's game.

SOUVIK CHOWDHURY

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