| Malaika Arora Khan ; and (below) with husband Arbaaz Khan
An enviable body and a style that's matchless, model-actress Malaika Arora Khan is perhaps the best known sex symbol of tinselville. While the Chhaiyan-chhaiyan fantasy femme has been lately not so visible in movies, the former VJ-actress is more than making up for the big screen absence with her return to television.
As the host of Sahara One's Style Mantra, Malaika has been delving into the style secrets of celebrities every Sunday. And Malaika turning anchor again (remember she made Loveline as famous as her legs in her fledgling days) coming close to the time when Malaika is launching her own clothes label is quite enough to make her a newsmaker. We chat up with Malaika on her transition from being a sex symbol to a sleek mom to a style icon:
Q: You are one of the original item girls who set the nation aflutter. How does that feel'
Well, plunging necklines and short skirts were always fashionable. If aesthetically done, item numbers can make a great impact. Item numbers earlier would and still can be a part of a script.
Q: What do you feel about the trend of item numbers and remixes that look like item numbers today'
Today, producers are merely cashing in on the success of a few hit item songs. The scenario today is such that you cannot sit with your family and watch television. Remix music videos are absurd. The quality of item numbers too is deteriorating. There is no need to show so much flesh to look sexy. You can look equally sexy yet pleasing in a sari.
Q: You are very choosy about your work now'
I always was. I have always worked out of choice. I have always said that when I have time, I will utilise it by indulging in my passions ' acting, television, etc'
Q: Has marriage changed you'
Every woman has a dream ' to marry, to have children, to look after the family. I am no different.
Q: So family is the priority'
When it comes to work, I have always taken up things I wanted to, never because I have to. I have done a few shows on television, and even fewer films. Family is definitely a priority. But I am always open to taking up good work.
Q: A face of MTV once, what made you take up Sahara One's Style Mantra'
The very fact that it is a style show. I love fashion, and that's what Style Mantra is all about. It reflects my personality and attitude. Basically, anything that I can relate to, is my thing.
Q: What about Arbaaz Khan' Would you consider him stylish'
Yes, he definitely is. But the best thing about him is he is so uncomplicated. And that is what I love about him. He is more conscious about his clothing since I have come into his life. I admit I have made him stylish.
Q: What about sister Amrita'
Oh, I love her and her carefree attitude. She does not care about what she is wearing. She will drape herself in anything, and yet look so stunning. She looks absolutely gorgeous every time she steps out of the house.
Q: What about your son. Do you plan to make your son stylish, too'
My son! No way. He knows what he wants and wears exactly that. Today's children are very smart.
Q: As the host of Style Mantra, how long do you take to get into your style when it comes to going out for, say, a party'
Exactly 10 minutes. When you have a little son and you have a husband who won't wait more than 10 minutes, you have to be quick!
Q: Even Kareena Kapoor said on your show that she has a complex sitting opposite Malaika Arora Khan and hence she was wearing something stylish. Coming to you, what kind of clothes would you think are stylish'
Well, style is an attitude you wear. I am most comfortable in my ganjees and jeans.
Q: What does style mean to you'
Style means different things to different people. My definition of style is comfort. For me, it is more of a statement that you make about yourself. It is like an extension of your personality. It reflects your attitude. It is a blend of your looks, personality, dress sense and body language. Style means carrying the right kind of attitude.
Q: Do brands matter'
If you are wearing a dress of an international brand, and it doesn't suit you, what is the point' One would rather wear something that suits him/her or fits his/her body. You can wear anything that you are comfortable in and you can be yourself. For me, comfort always comes before style.
Another most important factor for being in style is your health, because a healthy body carries a healthy mind, and a healthy soul, which all go into making you a stylish person.
Q: Your style icon'
It has to be Rekha. She is by far the most well-dressed, and most well-behaved lady I have ever met. She is the ultimate style icon. I have never seen anybody who has metamorphosed as much as her; from what she was to what she is. I admire her for not only her sense of good fashion, but also for the fact that she can never give up traditional for modern. She can give any international beauty a complex in her Kanjeevaram saris. She is the true face of fashion in India.
Q: As a style icon yourself, do you think the Indian youth has become more fashionably conscious'
Of course, the youth today are extremely fashion conscious. The kind of intricate knowledge that they have about fashion and style is mindboggling. It surprises me. I think that the media exposure and the Internet and other media have completely revolutionised the younger generation today. It's no longer like my college days when we used to only pick up our bags and run to college, without actually giving a thought as to how we were looking. Earlier, we wouldn't think too much about clothing. However, today, I myself could have never imagined spending hours before the mirror before going to college.
Q: Tell us about the new range of clothing you are planning to launch'
Yes, that should come out sometime next year. I can tell you more about it then. But yes, I am definitely launching my brand.
Q: Why haven't we seen you in fullfledged roles in movies'
I have been offered so many films, but nothing has really excited me so far. Initially, when I started doing films, people pointed out that models couldn't act. But I proved that notion wrong. When they said they couldn't even dance, I again proved them wrong. However, I was clear from the start that instead of doing insignificant roles in films, I would rather get into something more creative, and worthwhile.
Q: And what would your criteria for choosing work be'
A good script, an equally good team, and the importance of my role to the story is what I look for primarily. I am completely driven by my instincts. If I have to do something, regardless of what other people say, I will not think about the consequences. I will just go ahead. Yet, at the same time, projects offered to me should excite, and motivate me to take it up.
Q: Would you still take up item number offers'
I wouldn't mind. I have always been getting such offers, but it should be convincing and I should want to do it. Until then, I am happy with whatever I am doing.
Q: Being a part of a mainstream channel, are you abreast of the happenings on television'
No, I don't tune into television much, since I hardly get time. Hence, I am not too aware of the happenings. I don't watch saas-bahu serials either. I do, however, make it a point to keep myself aware of current affairs.
Q: Do you think television will supercede movies as India's ultimate form of entertainment in the next few years'
Indian television is definitely getting bigger, and better. Some of the shows are more glamorous and attractively packaged than Bollywood films. Traditionally, Bollywood is considered to the best entertainment option, but I think television is slowly changing that notion. It is indeed giving tough competition to films.
But you cannot predict what will work, because both television and movies have their own loyal audiences, and since I have been a part of both the media, I will not comment on that. But, yes, I would definitely say that television is here to stay.
Q: But isn't Indian television still lagging behind world television'
The same thing is being said about Indian movies. Hollywood films have always had the upper hand over us. But I don't believe in it.
We have our own class, our own individual distinct identity. Indian television has vastly improved and has become more viewer-friendly, quite like foreign shows. It definitely matches up to the best. And I foresee even more growth in the future.
Woman of many parts
What Malaika’s all about, part by part
STYLE ICON: The face of innumerable brands, muse to generations of Indian designers and filmmakers, this dusky beauty with her much talked-about bod and thorough professionalism stands out with a style distinctly her own. Hostess of shows like MTV Style Check and Sahara One’s Style Mantra, she is truly a style icon.
COVER TO COVER: Her first magazine cover happened way back in April 1993, when some of her photographs shot by lensman Suresh Natarajan fell into the hands of Suma Verghese, the then editor of Society magazine.
AD CAMPAIGN: It was the somewhat notorious MR coffee campaign which she did with her now husband actor Arbaaz Khan.
REST OF THE PRESS: She did numerous press campaigns including Pearl Pet, Bare Necessities, Mafatlal, Benzer and has modelled for Arena, Tanishq, Tribhuvandhas Bhimji, De Beers.
TWO-WAY LOVE AFFAIR: She has a way with the camera and has done some breathtaking shoots for designers Wendell Rodricks and Shahab Durazi. And photographers like Farookh Chothia, Atul Kasbekar and Rafique Syed.
ON THE HIGH: When she’s on the ramp she is oblivious of everything around. “I just go up there and have a ball,” she says.
WALKING THE AISLE: She married Arbaaz Khan in February 1999 and had a son Arhaan in 2002.
TUBE TALK: Meanwhile the tube beckoned and she has been through the mandatory MTV hostess stage with Club MTV and the very popular show Loveline with Cyrus Broacha.
MUSIC VIDEO: It was a big hit on the small screen, when she was seen dancing with Jas Arora in the video of O gur nal ishq mitha.
ITEM NUMBER: With Shah Rukh Khan dancing to the hit tune of Chhaiyan chhaiyan in Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se was a rage.
BUSINESS MINDED: She is soon launching her own clothes label.