Mallika Sherawat: If you can’t perform, the audience will reject you no matter who you are

Time and again, the debate about people being industry insiders and outsiders often erupts and occupies headlines for weeks. It was in the headlines as recently as a few months ago after Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead in his house. Nepotism was discussed extensively. In a recent chat with Mallika Sherawat, we brought up the insider-outsider debate and what she makes of it, given that she was not from a film family when she became a part of the film industry.

“It’s much easier and more organised today,” says Mallika, pointing out, “It was very difficult those days. Apart from destiny, I had dreams, aspirations and the willingness to work hard and try my best to make it. I studied philosophy and I have stuck to what Swami Vivekanand said about striving hard. I came with that mindset from Haryana. I did the drill, I went for auditions, I screen-tested for so many films and eventually got rewarded for my perseverence. Nothing was offered on a plate to me. Having said that, everyone in this business has to struggle, even those who belong to film families. The business is unkind to everyone. If you can’t perform, the audience will reject you no matter who you are. People from film families have their own difficulties. That’s why I think every role should be awarded to actors on merit. The audience can smell a great performance from a distance.”

Mallika adds, “I am grateful to Bollywood for what I have. Who was I? This place gave me a career, a name. I have the ability to live life on my terms and enjoy my economic freedom. I have had the chance to work and hobnob with some fantastic people. No one gets a life like that. Things have just become better with such great roles being penned for women today. I feel so encouraged. It gives hope to actresses like me. It’s the golden period for artistes.”

Recalling her stint in the USA, Mallika says that though she never plans to settle there, she’ll always be happy to consider offers coming from there. She says, “Americans have no judgements. They love me for who I am. I have never considered moving there because I am an Indian and I belong here. I worked there briefly and enjoyed myself but nothing matches the warmth you get in India. We can travel for work all over the world but nothing feels better than home.”