With starlet Nupur Mehta trapped in a match-fixing storm, here are 10 Bollywood babes who starred in national scandals
1. Mandakini (1993)
If there were a Nobel Prize for notoriety, Mandakini would have won it hands-down. Her entry with Ram Teri Ganga Maili made her a household name (she appeared in a diaphanous sari revealing her breasts). Then after a string of flops, she began to be seen in the company of a certain Mr. D (read Dawood Ibrahim), playing arm candy to him at matches in Sharjah, weird stuff like that. Then post the Mumbai bomb blasts of 1993, Mandakini literally vanished once Dawood Ibrahim was cited as the culprit behind the carnage. An entire generation is obsessed with the idea of her being Dawood Ibrahim's mistress, that the don himself had sired a son thanks to her. Today, Mandakini, leads a very different life. She is married to a descendent of the Dalai Lama called Dr Kagyur T Rinpoche Thakur. He gives yoga classes under the name of R. Thakur in a neighbourhood that also has the largest strugglers-per-capita in all of India: Yari Road, Bombay. Mandakini too is a keen fan of yoga, they say. For some masti on Mandy, check out this link, snippet number 3. Wink.
2. Pamela Bordes (1988)
Okay, she isn't exactly Bollywood. Pamela Bordes (nee Pamela Singh) was a Jaipur-based diva who won the Miss India pageant in 1982. She shortly moved to England after this. Flash forward to 1988 and Pamela Bordes (she briefly was married to a Frenchman) was the leading lady of Britain’s biggest sex scandal, ever. One of England’s highest-paid escorts at allegedly 10000 pounds a night, her client list was stellar indeed: Colonel Gaddafi (the gentleman was killed by revolting mobs in the turbulent Arab Spring that also swept past Libya), arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi (a co-culprit, they say, in the Bofors arms kickback scandal that brought down the Rajiv Gandhi government in the late ‘80s) and several Members of Parliament in Westminster (oh, what a liberal decade it must have been for a Conservative-dominated Parliament). Hounded by the red tops, Pamela Bordes was forced to leave the UK and return to homeland India, where she went back to her maiden name, Pamela Singh. Singh bought posh farmhouses in New Delhi and Jaipur with her savings and reinvented herself as a photographer/painter.
3. Monica Bedi (2002)
The Bombay bomb blasts were one of the city's nastiest brushes with the underworld, a comeuppance supposedly for the Hindu-Muslim riots of early 1993. The culprit: Abu Salem. Flash forward to 2002. Location: Lisbon, Portugal. When Abu Salem was arrested, out from the woodwork emerged a lesser-known starlet, Monica Bedi. This failed actress it turned out had been playing homemaker to this gangster for close to a decade. It seems she had been his wife for many years and that they were shuttling between countries, while Abu was trying to make a life for himself as a fugitive. Despite her repeated denials of being Salem's wife, the gangster himself claims that they got married in a mosque in Los Angeles in November 2000. Monica Bedi found a short lease of life via reality show Bigg Boss, a haven for freaks of all ilk.
4. Preeti Jain (2004)
In the stormy monsoon of 2004, starlet Preeti Jain made it to page one of national dailies, accusing Madhur Bhandarkar, the director of Page 3, of rape and criminal intimidation. It also became the first ‘casting couch’ scandal to go national. Then in 2005, after appearing in a short film with Zeenat Aman, Preeti Jain was arrested for allegedly commissioning a ‘supari’ (Bombay slang for assassination) on the director via a Bombay gangster. Preeti claimed she was being victimized by the high and mighty and found company in bar dancer Tarannum, with whom she shared a jail cell for some time.
5. Maria Susairaj (2008)
A body hacked into allegedly 300 pieces is how the urban legend went. In reality, Maria Susairaj and her devastatingly good-looking boyfriend from the navy chopped the body of television executive Neeraj Grover into closer to a tenth of this sum. The reason: a love story gone horribly wrong. Neeraj Grover was a priapric womanizer; Maria Susairaj was giving Bollywood a shot, despite having done some films in the Kannada film industry; and Emile Jerome, they say, entered their love nest and killed Neeraj Grover in a rage in May 2008. Nobody really knows what happened. Maria was acquitted recently by the courts, but Emile Jerome was convicted.
6. Preity Zinta (2005)
In 2005, Preity Zinta was cited in a ‘tape’ discovered by a tabloid in which Salman Khan candidly confessed to Aishwarya Rai about his equation with Zinta; the conversation was lurid, with a heavy sexual undercurrent. The matter reached a head when Preity Zinta took the tabloid to court for defamation and career damage; a film with Salman Khan in the pipeline was cancelled (though if there was no truth to this, why didn’t Sallu and Preity go ahead and shoot the film anyway?). A forensic lab in Chandigarh finally gave Zinta a clean chit. However, this incident became a national talking point about new journalism, tape doctoring, sex, lies and audiotape.
7. Bipasha Basu (2006)
In 2006, a publication carried a transcript between Amar Singh and allegedly Bipasha Basu. Amar Singh used his clout to put a gag order on the publication and release of these tapes. However, in 2011, this gag order was lifted. The entire episode made national headlines. The conversation is lurid. Woman: “Age does not matter.” A fat, middle-aged man: “It matters between the legs.” Yes, pathetic, we know. Bips has consistently denied being the woman on the telephone. But this scandal did bring to the forefront the dangers of telephonic intimacy with fat, middle-aged men nonetheless.
8. Rekha (1991)
On one fine morning in 1991, Mukesh Aggarwal, the owner of Nikitasha Kitchenette, hanged himself with a dupatta that belonged to his resplendent wife, Rekha. The couple had barely been married for a year and Rekha had even moved to New Delhi in the hope of finding marital bliss. There were dark rumours of her having moved to New Delhi for other reasons, but then again her alleged affair with the Big B remains an urban legend anyway (in the early-'80s he had moved to New Delhi as an Member of Parliament). The backlash was severe: The Times of India carried the story on the front page, something that was unprecedented for Bollywood coverage in a national daily in pre-liberalization India. And The Illustrated Weekly of India carried a cover story with Rekha on it and a headline that read 'The National Vamp'. That was harsh.
9. Veena Malik (2010)
In 2010, actress Veena Malik was at the centre of a match-fixing scandal when her then boyfriend, Pakistani cricketer Mohammed Asif was held and convicted by the British authorities. In the aftermath, Veena Malik grabbed some eyeballs when she accused her boyfriend of being regularly involved in match-fixing. It was something she tried to dissuade him from, she claimed. Veena Malik then found some national exposure via Bigg Boss and is slated to be seen next in Veena Ka Vivaah, in which she will find a less dubious spouse on television. Entries have come, after all, from nations as spread-out as Bahrain, Poland and New Zealand.
10. Pooja Bhatt (1997)
No other controversy sums up better India’s tortuous equation with globalization in the 1990s than this saga: a cyber-sicko tacked Pooja Bhatt’s head onto a naked woman’s body and put it up on a website. A filmi rag, Stardust, made the mistake of publishing a story about this morphed photograph in 1997. What you had in the aftermath was a Tom Wolfe satire. In our desi version of The Bonfire of the Vanities, you had police complaints filed against Stardust, lawsuits slapped against the internet site. But what was truly absurd was the morcha of right-wingers forming a human chain outside Pooja Bhatt’s home, holding her responsible. All this even though the article had clearly stated that the photograph was morphed, that the actress had been a victim of malicious slander! The protesters had not read the article, only responded to the image carried with it. Later, an ‘NGO’ conceded that it had sent a 'morcha' to Pooja Bhatt’s home because she had earlier refused to do a campaign for them. So much for the morality.
Curious to know who Nupur Mehta is, in case you missed her in the unforgettable Sunny Deol starrer, Jo Bole So Nihaal (2005)? Do check out this video: