Rashmi Nigam is my latest crush.
Well, she’s the babe from that music video who went on to become the star of Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao. Yeah, the one in the satin saree who makes that biting gesture in that ‘Ja Re Ja’-‘Stayin Alive’ mix.
Every passing day, I am more than convinced that life can really be larger than a movie. Less than 16 hours after I saw the movie, I met her. Rashmi Nigam. In flesh and blood.
Well, as a journalist I’ve come across plenty of stars and starlets in the last five years. But only a few of them really had ‘it’. “It,” if you’ve seen Bowfinger, you will know is that quality a person should possess to be a star… you shouldn’t be able to take your eyes of that person, every single thing she does should keep your eyes glued to them and your body tuned to her existence.
Amisha Patel, when I met her about four and a half years, had it. I didn’t want to wash my hand after shaking hands with her. But my Mom wouldn’t serve me dinner! 😦 So I finally gave in and washed my hands.
Then Trisha. Even when she became Miss Chennai, I knew that this babe had “it”. In fact, I think I must have been the first person to have taken her autograph (much before she became popular as an actress). Yeah, it sure was embarassing for a journalist of some repute to ask for an autograph from a star (I’ve never ever done it with anybody else but her) but I was completely in awe of this wonderful girl. I clearly remember, we were at Hell Freezes Over, the disco which has now been shut down. It was Valentine’s Day eve. There she was looking absolutely gorgeous as I walked up, scribbled a note and passed it on.
The note said: Hi, I’m Sudhish. From The Hindu. Two things. 1. An Autograph 2. An Interview.
This babe was not even a star. She was just Miss Chennai when I did that ridiculous thing. And No, I wasn’t drunk or anything. It was a very impulsive thing to do and I was just four months into the job then.
She smiled. She was floored, I think (Or maybe behind that smile, she thought: “What a lech!”). She said “Forget the autograph. This is my number and we can meet up anytime.”
So, that was that.
Then, Priyanka Chopra. I always thought she was dumb until I finally met her. We would have chatted for a couple of hours. She surely had “it.” She was in a bright red tight top and she told me I looked like Manish Malhotra! 😛
And now… Rashmi Nigam. It happened two days ago.
Here’s what I wrote out of that for the paper. It’s yet to be published.
‘Mast’ about Rashmi – The next Pop icon?
It was certainly love at first bite. Yes, she stole my heart (and of many others like Pritish Nandy) the minute she made that ‘biting’ gesture in that music video of the ‘Ja Re Ja O Harjai’ remix.
Pritish Nandy said, “If a girl can wear a saree like that, dance likethat and bite like that!” before running out of words to describe his discovery.
He signed her on for Popcorn Khao Mast Ho Jao, a movie whose otherwise painfully long length I did not mind at all, because of the presence of this absolutely gorgeous young woman. Yes, Kajol’s sisterTanishaa also happens to star in the movie, but this one is Rashmi’s film. Her portfolio.
If Kabir Sadanand, the director, got anything right in the movie, it was casting Rashmi as Sonia. Don’t get me wrong, the movie isn’tentirely bad. It’s great in parts, it has some wonderful moments (yes, excluding the parts where Rashmi lights up the screen with her presence), it has about 15 genuinely funny jokes, a brilliantly funnyYash Tonk as Goldie and a charming, talented, grey-eyed bloke in Akshay Kapoor to keep the women in the audience happy. With a little editing … like, you know, with an hour less (the movie is over two and a half hours long), it would be a decent movie.
In its current form however, ‘Popcorn’ is just any other half-fresh yet not-that-corny film you can expect out of a promising debutant director, a flick which falls short of a ‘Mast’ watch tag.
Before we start the interview, Rashmi pops the question that any journalist would want to avoid after watching a movie like ‘Popcorn’: So, how did you like the movie?
“Well, I think you are one of the reason why anyone should watch this film,” I tell her quickly before giving her my opinion on the length.
How did it all begin?
(Seriously, how many questions can you ask a starlet who is one film old?)
Rashmi was at a restaurant with her friends when a gentleman from Sony auditioning for the role. Hmmm, he must have noticed her biting. “I almost forgot about it,” Rashmi recalls. A week later, she landed up at the audition, danced for a Beyonce number, and she was in.
“I was trained in Manipuri and Kuchipudi,” the starlet explains, before going into her Flashback. Approximately 18 years, 95 days, 13 minutes and 5 seconds before (that’s how the movie’s narrator takes the audience back and forth in time), Rashmi Nigam was born in Goa. Rashmi was then raised in Delhi, studied abroad for a bit and approximately one year, 79 days, 58 minutes and 13 seconds ago, worked as a graduate trainee in the petroleum division of a multi-national company. Her photographer friend persuaded her to get her portfolio done.
Her school experience in dance theatre gave her enough confidence to do ads, then the ‘Ja Re Ja’ music video happened. Before she knew it, Daler Mehndi signed her on for his latest video ‘Bolo Sha Ra Ra Ra.’
And now, one-film-old Rashmi is already familiar with the standard cliches that well established stars belt out confidently. “I’m here for good,” “I’ve found my calling,” “I want to do different roles. I don’t want to be slotted.” “I’m doing a totally different role in my next film.” Of course. Only that the script isn’t ready. Yes, Rashmi will start shooting for another film with her producer Pritish Nandy Communications, by the end of the year.
Meanwhile? “I’m taking a nice Popcorn break,” she smiles. “In this industry, there are either lulls or so much happening that you can’t even breathe … so much excitement. So, now I get back to spend time with my friends. I’m starting to watch movies in DVDs to update myself.”
About 10 minutes, 5 seconds and .36 nanoseconds after she said that, I shook hands with my latest crush.
Blessed are those, who become journalists.