She is the ultimate hot-stepper. One who set hearts aflutter as she gyrated to the tunes of Chhaiyya Chhaiyya in Mani Ratnam’s Dil Se atop a moving train and pole danced her way to glory to Mahi Ve in Sanjay Gupta’s Kaante. But if she has had a bouquet of credits — being a video jockey, modelling, doing item numbers and hosting television shows — to add oomph to her personality, Malaika Arora Khan has some new ones up her sleeve. The lady is all set to turn entrepreneur with her plans to open a restaurant and also launch her very own clothing label this year.
Wearing a simple white shirt and trousers accessorised with a black obe belt that makes her waist look akin to Scarlett ’Hara’s tiny 18-inch waist, Malaika has obviously had to hurriedly dab on some make-up before she launches a range of skin care in the Capital. Her explanation: “I have to rush back to Mumbai.” That said, however, she does full justice to her role as a brand ambassador for Oriflame, as she did her best to convince all and sundry about the new Optimals range.
“You see, life is no longer within the four walls of a kitchen for a woman. She has the world at her feet. And look at how much more is available and accessible nowadays. Good skin and good hair talk volumes about a person. You know then that someone takes care of oneself or is bothered about oneself,” she says.
However frenzied she might seem at a given moment, she does have her time set to suit her various roles as anchor, ambassador, item actress, wife and most importantly, as mother, to perfection. “It’s the art of time management. You have to learn to achieve it in life and maintain a balance between all jobs. Yet you have to give 100 per cent to whatever you do,” she says.
In fact, if she is not keen on full-fledged roles in films, that’s because she does not want to lose out on time with her three-year-old son, Arhaan. “My time with my baby is invaluable. I try to do things that do not take too much of my time, such as ribbon-cutting ceremonies, doing shows overseas and shooting for ad campaigns or endorsing brands,” she elaborates.
So you see her endorsing brands of the likes of Oriflame, Vodafone, Streax, Yahoo! India Mail, being on the judge panel for dance show Nach Baliye on the tube and walking the ramp for designers such as Surily Goel and sister-in-law Seema Khan. In her acting bag stashed in somewhere is a role in an Indo-French film and an item number in Sajid Khan’s directorial debut film Hey Baby where she performs along with sister Amrita Arora.
It, of course, helps that she has a supportive husband in the person of actor Arbaaz Khan. Recalls Malaika: “It was he who urged me on to go ahead with the pole dance in Kaante. I was pretty apprehensive because I was getting back into shape after my pregnancy. Even my sister Amrita encouraged me a lot at that time. Thanks to both of them, I did it.”
Born to a Malayalee mother and a Punjabi father, Malaika completed her 10th grade from Swami Vivekanand School in Chembur, where her aunt Grace Polycarp was the principal. She completed her studies at the Jai Hind College. But modelling was what Malaika always wanted to do.
Things fell in place when as a 17-year-old she got recognition from a magazine editor. Photographs of her, shot by lensmen Suresh Natarajan, were noticed by the then editor of Society. Soon after, she made it to the magazine’s cover.
Following this she attracted attention thanks to the MR Coffee campaign in which she teamed up with Arbaaz Khan, whom she went on to marry in 1999. In the meantime, she became an even more familiar face as a VJ on MTV with her shows, Club MTV and MTV Loveline.
The former VJ has to her name plenty of top ad campaigns that include Bare Necessities, Mafatlal, Benzer, Tanishq, Tribhuvandhas Bhimji and De Beers. She also has to her credit some sizzling fashion shoots with designers Wendell Rodricks and Shahab Durazi, and photographers like Farrokh Chothia and Atul Kasbekar.
The projects close to her heart, however, at the moment are the new ventures on her cards. She says: “The clothing label will see me turning entrepreneur as will my restaurant which I want to open in the suburbs of Mumbai. We are looking at Bandra which is a hub of good food. I want to tie up with people who are into the hospitality business and know the intricacies of it. The emphasis will be on good food. It will be a high, considering the fact that I am a big foodie.”
Does the ‘foodie’ part seem a bit of a contradiction, especially when you cast a look at her trim figure' The lady simply puts it this way: “Let me confess that I do not like fried food as such. Apart from that I love food. ”
Photograph by Jagan Negi