Mallika Sherawat is bold, fearless and outspoken. The actress, who works closely with an organisation that fights against human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation of children, says she wants to be the voice of women who don’t have one and that activism is important for her.
She was teargassed and beaten up in her Paris apartment in 2016. She also had to deal with a “crazy terrible stalker”.
Does she fear for her life?
“I can’t stop living my life. What’s good if I don’t get to use my voice for the cause that I believe in? I believe in women empowerment and to be the voice for women who don’t have a voice.
“I get mails from Haryana… from women saying, ‘Show us the way’. They want to make something of their life. My activism is very important to me,” Mallika told IANS on the phone from Mumbai.
She wants to inspire women across the country through her story on facing her stalker in ZEE5’s anthology series, “The Story“.
Talking about the episode of the digital project, she said: “It was kind of reliving the nightmare, but it was important for me to speak up about the experience. In India, a lot of people think that the life of a famous person is very simple… but actually, it’s not. We all have our own challenges and problems.
“I had this crazy, terrible stalker. Also, what’s happening in India right now with all these gang rape cases… there is a need to take self-defence seriously.”
Recalling the incident, the “Murder” actress said: “This took place a few years ago in Mumbai. This crazy guy was against the idea of me wearing short skirts. He said ‘You are going against your culture. Women like you should be put behind bars’.
“My clothes were an obsession for him. He just couldn’t believe that a girl from Haryana could wear short skirts and that too on screen. I know that regressive mentality towards women exists, but I didn’t know that it could go this far.
“I think, for him, it was like, ‘I am going to set her right. I am going to teach her the value of wearing a sari’. He even had a gun with him. I talk about women’s rights. He just didn’t want me to speak. He hated what I stood for — independent, modern Indian women. That guy was put behind bars.”
She is positive that the audience, especially women, will relate to it because a “lot of women are facing harassment” at work and at home.
“I have faced harassment. It is a very common thing with women,” she said.
Mallika has also got the rights to adapt “The Good Wife”, an American legal and political drama TV series, for Indian audiences.
“Again, it is a women’s empowerment show. By the end of this year, we will start shooting for it. I will play the central character,” she said.
“It will be shot in India in Hindi. I am really excited to share it with the Indian audience. I think the time is right,” added the actress, who featured in the American show “Hawaii Five-0”.
Mallika has made frequent appearances on the Cannes Film Festival’s red carpet. She has also featured in Chinese films like “Time Raiders” and “The Myth“.
She feels proud that the audience abroad “absolutely loves Bollywood”.
“Bollywood is really making its presence felt abroad. A lot of Indian actors are working abroad. They love musicals of Bollywood as they are so unique. Now, realistic cinema is also coming from Bollywood. They help to form a good image for Bollywood.”