A successful Bharatnatyam dancer and Bollywood’s evergreen ‘Dreamgirl’, Hema Malini, who became a BJP MP in 2004, says that she got ‘more respect’ as a member of parliament than being an artiste.
“You get more respect as a member of parliament. As an artiste, I had my own dignity, but as a politician it increases… It doesn’t go down,” Hema, who represents the Mathura constituency in Lok Sabha, said in interview here.
Recently, Hema was embroiled in allegations that she had illegally grabbed a plot of land for her dance academy Natyavihar Kalakendra Charity Trust at a nominal price of Rs.70,000 in Mumbai’s Andheri area. But the Padma Shri awardee says the whole hullabaloo happened because she was a BJP MP.
“The Maharashtra government giving me land, created a huge ruckus. Why? Just because I am Hema Malini? I don’t think it’s for Hema Malini… It is because Hema is a BJP member of parliament. This is why it created a problem for people,” Hema said, adding that she had kept herself “very different in the political world”.
On the big screen, she has essayed a range of glamorous as well as non-glam roles, proving her worth as a versatile talent. The 67-year-old has also showcased her proficiency in dance many a time in movies — and always had the aura of a star actor.
But as a politician, she has reached out to bring about the changes that she wishes to see in her constituency.
Often, Bollywood celebrities deliberate upon gender bias in the Hindi film industry. Is the scenario same in the political world?
“I don’t feel any inequality in my political work. To me, I am different, I don’t indulge in small things. So I cannot compare myself to others,” Hema said.
However, she said that inequality in Bollywood is nothing new. Pointing out that Bollywood has always been a male and hero-dominated industry, she explained: “Suddenly these points are coming up about inequality. Bollywood was always been as a male-dominated industry.”
She said that the characters which Dharmendra or other actors portrayed, the heroines could not do. “For a heroine to get the same kind of acknowledgment, it has to be a heroine-oriented film and for men, a hero-dominated film. There is clearly no comparison,” she said.
Dwelling upon the gap in pay for men and women in Hindi films, she said: “Moneywise in those days, the heroes had so much of shooting and so much of work. I don’t think heroines had that much of work. Heroines had a few songs to sing, some nice interesting scenes, and that’s it.”
Nevertheless, the former chairperson of the National Film Development Corporation said there were some exceptions. As an actress, Hema had taken on strong roles in films like ‘Chaalbaaz’, ‘Mulzim’, ‘Satte Pe Satta’ and ‘Sholay’.
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