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Rediff News  All News  » Movies » Bollywood's Hottest New Heroines

Bollywood's Hottest New Heroines

Last updated on: July 2, 2009 

Image: Neetu Chanda
Photographs: Ashish Kumar / The Man

The new breed of Bollywood babes are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for stardom. Priyanka Jain brings you some of the hottest and spiciest new age actresses who don't shy away from showing off that luscious body any more.

It is generally bad news for an actress when the weighing scales are tilting on the wrong side and the media has blown up the oversized pictures. Not Neetu Chandra.

On a hot Sunday afternoon in a vanity van, dressed in a very summery yellow number, the dusky actress is looking at news reports about her weight gain, and laugh out loud, "Actually these reports keep me motivated. Meet me in ten days and you will see the change."

When we met again to discuss this story, the Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye chick is a few kilos lighter, showing off her belly button in a short top and low waist jeans that fits her like second skin.

Sporty in her attitude, and downright naughty, sexy and bitchy, she is a natural choice of The Man's cover. The newly toned deliciously hot bod helps, too.

The actress, who started in an itsy bitsy bikini number in Priyadarshan's Garam Masala, turned her luck around when she bagged a de-glam street vendor solo heroine role in Madhur Bhandarkar's Traffic Signal. Although the film failed to impress the box office, Neetu's work was appreciated. Then came her role opposite Abhay Deol in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye. The film did well and offers began to pour in.

Her last release 13B, a horror film, is now being remade into English by a Hollywood production house. With more than six of her films releasing this year, Neetu seems to have hit the formula of success. Rahul Dholakia's Mumbai Cutting, Vipul Shah's untitled film with Rahul Bose, Raj Kanwar's period film Sadiyaan with Rekha and Hema Malini, Gary Grewal's Khusar Prasad Ka Bhooth where she plays a prostitute, Jagmohan Mundra's psycho thriller Apartment and Ram Gopal Varma's Rann are expected to release this year.

This curvaceous lass says she has achieved all this without being a size zero and would like to keep it that way. "I believe one needs to have a good, toned body and have curves in the right places. I like how our older actresses looked. They were voluptuous and I want that trend to come back. Trust me, men love a body that keeps their hands full."

Unapologetic about showing off her body on screen she says, "If I can carry a bikini in the best form why shouldn't I wear one? I have no apprehensions about wearing clothes that flatter my body. I am comfortable doing intimate scenes. If shot aesthetically, I am ready to do a nude shoot too. It should not look cheap or vulgar."

Neetu's new funda is, any publicity is good publicity, "My directors say every second day there is something written about me. They don't care whether it is good or bad, they say it is enough that the media is attracted towards you. Then it is good for his film too. I am a very frank person and I don't think there is anything wrong in accepting that I like being written about. I just want them to use good pictures," she winks with a wicked smile playing on her lips.

Neetu is symbolic of the new breed of actresses who leave no stone unturned to achieve success. There is a right mix of talent, attitude and an oomph factor. That she can kick some ass on and off screen makes her all the more desirable. Few know that Neetu is an avid sports person. A black belt in Taekwondo, she has represented India in the International Taekwondo Championship at Hong Kong and in the World Korfball Championship in New Delhi.

Just as we want to label her in the Charlie's Angels avatar, she drops another bomb about her spiritual life. "I am going to Osho Ashram tomorrow; I am going to swim there, play basket-ball and get some much needed peace and calm. I love the meditation exercises there. It helps me get some equilibrium," says the actress who has been working non-stop for 36 days, completing the first schedule of Ram Gopal Varma Rann and Jagmohan Mundra's Apartment

Ask her about per perfect date and pat comes the reply, "On the beach, with live music playing out of sight in the background, the guy coming on a white horse and popping out the diamond ring during the dinner.

As a woman if I dig for loyalty it won't be right. It is biologically proven that men want to sleep with more than one woman. On the other hand women look for security. I can't say I am looking for loyalty and that my man should be a virgin when we get married. I am looking for a guy who believes in me, trusts me, till the time we have a good relationship.  If I had to choose between a simple, cute guy and a clever one who can handle situations, well, I would prefer the clever one.

If someone very shyly coyly asks me out and says it's the first time he is asking someone out, I would slap him and tell him to sleep with 500 women and then ask me out. He needs to know how to handle women, needs to be polished. I don't want to dumb guy."

So what kind of a guy would Neetu marry? "I will only marry a guy who has a spa, basket ball ground, and a club, a bungalow, three to four cars to match my dresses, is good looking and a sports person. I want him to be intelligent and funny. I want him to make me laugh all the time." Easy to please, isn't she?

Not just Neetu Chandra, there is this whole bunch of new of actresses who are fiery and independent. They flaunt their sexuality and believe in the changing status of the fairer sex in keeping with the times. They are highly opinionated and don't break under pressure. But they must keep an image. For now. So, every time there is talk about an intimate scene involving them they say, "I will do it if the script demands it", or, "If it is shot aesthetically, why not", "I am an actor and I am here to portray my director's characters".

They don't mind mouthing sexy dialogues and performing provocative roles, being the woman who makes you to burn with desire as you watch them get intimate onscreen with their co-actors. In fact they love it and are hungry for more.

Text and photographs courtesy: The Man magazine 
Hair and make up: Nilesh Kumar
Styling: Aesha Merchant

Mahie Gill

Image: Mahie Gill
Photographs: Bhuppi / The Man

Cover her from head to toe and she still makes you burn with desire and ache with longing. That kind of encapsulates Mahie Gill's appeal.

The only makeup Mahie is sporting is her dark kohl eyes when she meets us. Bubbly and sporty in her attitude, Mahie has long covered the bruises from her past. Who would imagine that this beautiful actress who has been compared to Tabu, was once married and had to go through a painful divorce, before she came to Mumbai.

Talk to her about Tabu and she blushes, "Tabu is a great actress. People have told me I look like her but I think it is not fair to compare a new comer with an accomplished actress."

It is no coincidence then that she is now cast in Tigmanshu Dhulia's Pan Singh Tomar with Irrfan Khan. She will be seen in a full fledged love making scene with him. Irrfan and Tabu have been a hit jodi and have given many a wonderful performances together. So will Mahie be able to live up the challenge? "I ain't wearing a bikini in that movie too. But just watch out," she says.

Mahie will also be seen in Indrajit Nattoji Aage Se Right with Shreyas Talpade. For now, she is happy being mobbed in her hometown where she started quite humbly doing Punjabi television and movies.

Just when I wonder whether I should believe when she tells me she is a shy person; she says, "Once I know you, I am very bindass. I am a lot like Anurag Kashyap's Paro in Dev D. I feel that character was written keeping me in mind."

For now however, the image of the mistress and mujra dancer singing Ranaji in Anurag Kashyap's Gulaal has been etched in our minds. We are sure Mahie isn't complaining.

Kalki Koechlin

Image: Kalki Koechlin
Photographs: Toto Nandy

Dev D is the most radical Indian film, ever. Period.

The girls Kalki Koechlin and Mahie Gill couldn't have asked for a better launch. Both upped the sex quotient of female actresses in Hindi cinema and acquired the newest sex-symbol label.

Dressed in a kurta-pyjama and dishevelled, messy hair, the real life Kalki is nothing like her onscreen seductress character, Chanda. She meets us for tea, minutes before she can start her twelve-hour rigorous month-long theatre workshop. Even if you were to have just a five-minute conversation with this woman, you would know she is not just a sex-bomb but has the intelligence, which must have bowled over our reclusive director, Anurag. Yes, the two are dating, and enjoying every bit of the fame that was long over-due to Anurag. It is no wonder that Kalki's next release is her beau's next directorial venture, Happy Ending.

Kalki wowed everybody with her bold portrayal of the modern day Chandramukhi. It was, indeed, a tough task for a debutante, given the fact that the role was earlier essayed by Vyjayantimala and Madhuri Dixit.

Kalki says, "I never had any illusions about my look. I don't have a commercial Bollywood actress look and I look like a foreigner. This meant that I could be cast only in an offbeat film. "

This French theatre actress was born in Pondicherry where her parents settled in Sri Aurbindo's ashram 35 years ago. She studied in Ooty until she was 18 and then did theatre in London. She had already worked for over a year in the London theatre circuit before she started attending workshops in India with theatre personalities like Rajat Kapoor and Anamika Haksar. In India she worked with Atul's Company Theatre before she was selected for Dev D.

"Tamilian with a white skin" is a term Kalki has coined for herself as she speaks good Tamil.

Shruti Haasan

Image: Shruti Haasan

Just her parentage -- Kamal Haasan and Sarika -- generated enough interest in Shruti Haasan even before she has debuted in Bollywood.

Shruti has her mother's royal looks -- fair skin. She too is an interesting mix -- trained in dance, is a professional singer and is already making heads turn with her selvte body and tantalising look.

Any guesses what will happen when her debut film -- Soham Shah's Luck with Imran Khan releases?

As of now Shruti is also composing the music for Kamal Haasan's upcoming Tamil film Unnaipol Oruvan which is a Tamil remake of A Wednesday! Shruti has also lent her voice in her debut film Luck.

For now Shruti has kept away from the press but we hear her publicity campaign is very well laid out and her PR has started sending some really hot images of the actress to the media.

Sonal Chauhan

Image: Sonal Chauhan

It must be daunting task to date a girl whose father is a police inspector. Maybe that explains why Sonal is still single.

Born in a Rajput family, Sonal was the first Indian to bag the Miss World Tourism title after which she debuted last year in Mukesh Bhatt's Jannat opposite Emraan Hashmi. Sonal is far more fun and mischevious in her demeanour than her miss goody two shoes character Zoya in Jannat

The girl must have got some spunk beneath that innocent smile which made MF Hussain's son Owais Hussain sign her for his directorial debut tentatively titled Punjab 69She has also recently wrapped up a film opposite Shivrajkumar down South.

Ask her what took her so long to sign the second film she says, "After Jannat released the Bhatt's told me that there will be high expectations now. You can only fall from here. That statement made an impact on me and I was just being careful. Though I have a three movie deal with the Bhatt's, they haven't forced me to sign something immediately. They understand an artist's situation and have given me freedom to choose the film I want to do with them."

For now Sonal says she is just waiting for a script where her wild side can be explored.

For those of you who would want to impress her, she doesn't ask for much. "Just take me to an open place where I can see the stars in the sky, feel the breeze in my face," says Sonal.

Shahana Goswami

Image: Shahana Goswami
Photographs: Ishaan Nair

"She is a girl one must watch out for," says Anurag Basu.

Metro and Kites director isn't even doing a film with Shahana Goswami right now but when you quiz him about the most promising new actresses, Shahana's is the first name that comes to his lips.

Shahana played a docile-nagging wife in Rock On. Though the film was Farhan's launch pad and the buzz was more about Ekta Kapoor's friend Prachi Desai and his debut, Shahana acting prowess made people take notice her. This, in spite of the almost zilch publicity she was given in the film's PR campaign.

But Shahana is not one bit bitter. She says, "In terms of getting noticed, Rock On gave me the visibility that other films didn't."

Shahana started with Naseeruddin's directorial debut Yun Hota To Kya Hota, went on to do Reema Kagti's Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd, Rubaru with Randeep Hooda, though a small film, was her first solo heroine role. The film bombed but it helped her reinvent herself. "I lost weight, trained for it and understood that I could do more glamorous role. It was a big move for me."

This delhite also found a fan in Nandita Das and was signed for Firaaq which has brought her critical acclaim once again. 

She will next be seen in a bold role in Sudhir Mishra's Tera Kya Hoga Johnny, where she has a boy friend and a husband, with the by-now-obligatory love-making scene thrown in. Godmother director Vinay Shukla's Mirch, in a glamorous-neurotic avatar in Mahesh Bhatt's Jashn where she plays Adhyayan Suman's pathetic alcoholic sister.

On screen brother and sister Adhyayan Suman and Shahana Goswami are rumoured to be dating each other, after Kangana Ranaut was reported to be in company of Barbara Mori's brother.

Ask her if she is open to go the glam way, she says, "If you want to be a mainstream Bollywood actress you have to do it. I always rely on instinct. There is nothing at this point I am averse to doing but at the same time it doesn't mean that I am open to doing everything. It depends on the context in which it is required, the time in my career graph where the opportunity comes. The role has to be beyond titillation and if it is titillation then there has to reason for the requirement of the titillation."

So does the new Bollywood babe maxim 'any publicity good publicity' work for her?

"I prefer to play safe and would not want to have a controversy. The price you pay to undo bad publicity is too much."