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Women in Bollywood: The Feisty 5 Who Tell It Like It Is

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Nargis with Sanjay Dutt

Telling  it  like it is doesn’t come  easily in an industry where  nothing is as it seems, and speaking  the  truth  could mean  the end  of a career. And yet there have been some  exceptional straight talking women   in the industry. Here’s  toasting the  blunt brigade.

  1. Nargis : The legendary Nargis  was known  to  tell it like it is, so much so  that her  husband  the very diplomatic  and restrained  Sunil Dutt, didn’t know what would come next from his wife’s mouth.Nargisji was anything but diplomatic in her dealings with people and politics.When she was a member of the Rajya Sabha  she once created a furore by saying Satyajit Ray peddled Indian poverty to the West. Half the time Sunil  Dutt Saab was apologizing to  people whom his  moofphat wife  offended.
  2. Hema MaliniBluntspeak comes  naturally to Hema Malini. If she  doesn’t like you she will  tell  you that  in  your  face. In the  1970s she  didn’t feel comfortable working with the  reigning superstar Rajesh Khanna and she avoided him. Heamji   came to my home for  lunch once and openly grumbled  about the number  of  stairs she had  to climb .Then she  told us that something she had eaten  the night before had not agreed with her because it was  cooked in  mustard  oil. “Don’t worry  everything today is cooked  in olive oil,” my friend reassured her. When she sat down for the meal my  friend  again helpfully reminded her of  the  cooking medium. “How many times  will you say  the same thing?” she snapped. Ouch. What we love about  Hemaji is that she is completely comfortable with who she is. When you  praise her  for her beauty she will tell you she has never thought  about it.And she is right.
  3. Asha Bhosle The non-controversial softspoken  Nightingale’s sister  is  definitely  not one  to mince words. Asha Tai , as she’s  known, is the  least diplomatic   member  of  the Mangeshkar family. On occasions I’ve been at the  receiving end  of her  tongue-lashing for favouring her sister. Once I  told Ashaji that Lataji was God.  She turned  around to ask,  “Achcha woh bhagwan  our main shaitaan?”   While discussing  her reclusive  Didi, Asahji said, “I do drop in to her room to chat with her. But she continues to watch television even on seeing me.” Once  at an event  to commemorate Lataji’s contribution to the music industry ,Lataji’s immortal Ghazal  Hum  hain mata-e-kucha-o-bazaar ki terah  was  playing. Ashaji turned  to  a singer to ask, ‘Who’s  singing this?  Achha nagin  gaya’.  Needless to say the singer didn’t know where to  look.
  4.  Jaya Bachchan:  She is  the  most forthright person I know in the film industry. If you’ve seen Mrs Bachchan’s squabbles with the paparazzi for crossing the line—once she berated them for  calling Aishwarya by her first name—you’d know she’s unstoppable. Much to the  mortification of her  husband and son. Once she  gave an interview  to me calling a  major filmmaker “dirty” and  “indecent”. Abhishek  (rightly) asked her how  they will face the  filmmaker when  they run into him next. Ask Jayaji if  she cares!  On her birthday recently she called back to  thank me for  my  good wishes  and opened  the conversation with, “Aap bahot pareshan karte hain. Itne saarey numbers hain aapke.”
  5. Kangana Ranaut The outspokenness in her case has been excessive,  But there is  no doubt  Kangana is  a girl who speaks her mind. With a pronounced  aversion  for doublespeak Kangana tells  it like  it is ,regardless of how much her  frankspeak offends  or hurts others. I remember an  incident way back for the premiere  of Sanjay Bhansali’s Black when  Kangana and I were  close friends. I  made bold to tell my friend Sanjay Bhansali that she would sit with me at the screening. When Kangana heard  about the seating arrangement she  was  furious. “What  gave you the  right to  decide where I sit?”  She  was  right.Never take this woman for granted.