It’s not just Oprah who has taken India to America. We have another brand ambassador. A home-grown one this time around – in the curvaceous form of Sherlyn Chopra.
Sherlyn who, you ask? For those of you who have not been googling her incessantly over the last few days, Sherlyn aka Mona Chopra is a Bollywood starlet who’s acted in some random films including the eminently forgettable Dil Bole Hadippa with Rani Mukherjee. Now that’s not what she’s famous for. What she’s famous for, and being pilloried for, is that she’s going to be Playboy’s first Indian cover-girl ever. So the usual diatribe has followed – she’s sullied our culture, and basically pooped all over our traditions.
What everyone seems to be missing is the good service Sherlyn is actually doing for the country. If you’re not going to use your breasts for world peace and breaking down borders, what are you going to use them for, after all?
First off, she’s actually a better role model for young women today than some of the other misogynistic and bigoted and repressed women we keep touting as female icons of India. She’s independent (no sugar daddy in sight), self-sufficient, seemingly enterprising and takes her future in her own hands. She realised that her Bollywood career wasn’t going anywhere, looked down, saw her orbs which salute the sun and shot off an email to Hugh Heffner saying she’d love to pose for Playboy. The Heff in all his wisdom, bit the bullet, flew her to his Playboy mansion and the rest as they say, is slightly pornographic history.
Second, unlike other ebbing and self-proclaimed stars she’s as honest as they come. There’s no pretense that Heff was dying to have her in his magazine and sent his people to bring her to him. She baldly states that she’s the one who contacted him and had to make an awful lot of effort to convince him that not only would she pose for him, but also that she was as Indian as they come.
Third, she does not deny that she’s had a little nip-and-tuck. As she so eloquently and proudly stated at her press conference, “People from the field of modern science have enhanced my tangible assets”. A welcome change from all those actresses – and actors – who suddenly start resembling Michael Jackson, Joan Rivers and David Gest all rolled into one, and just pretend that their new scary faces and suddenly perky breasts are simply God’s gift.
Fourth, for all the brickbats she’s getting – and I’m surprised Tejinder Bagga or the Shiv Sena haven’t set their beady eyes on her yet – she seems to be far more intelligent and less prejudiced than the National Commission of Women’s Mamta Sharma. Unlike Sharma who proclaimed that women who don’t dress “carefully” shouldn’t be surprised if they’re molested, Sherlyn said that someone’s criminal urges have nothing to do with their victim’s attire. Ten on ten for that.
But the aspect I feel everyone’s missing is the fact that if Sherlyn needs Playboy, so does Playboy need her. Playboy needs India — who would have imagined that in the bunny heyday? Hugh’s little baby has been floundering for a while in the age of internet porn and needs all the new blood, boobs and brainwaves it can get to make sure Playboy doesn’t die along with the Heff. It’s the same way Amitabh needed to star in a Govinda blockbuster like Bade Miyan, Chote Miyan when he was trying to make a comeback in 1998. So while Sherlyn needs the international platform and old-world brand reputation that Playboy can give her, Playboy also needs her exotic India presence on its cover. Isn’t that a win-win?
And does it really matter if she slept with Heff? People have done far worse. As far as Heff goes, I lean towards believing that while his spirit is willing the flesh might just be a tad too weak. Anyway, it seems that Sherlyn much like her self-proclaimed role model Marilyn Monroe, prefers a thinking-although-not-very-hirsute man. Which is why despite all her missives to Heff, she’s promised Pritish Nandy the first copy of her Playboy magazine. And like a good Indian girl she is proceeding with her overtures only after the blessings of the said man’s family – in this case his daughter’s. She asked Rangita Nandy if it was OK to give her father the first copy. Now that’s what I call a modern but traditional Indian woman.
Sherlyn, the nation is proud.