Millennium Post

I am not Mallika Sherawat: Paoli

I am not Mallika Sherawat: Paoli
I am not Mallika Sherawat, declares Paoli Dam firmly, when you tell her that she is being compared with Mallika Sherawat already.

'I wouldn't want to be compared at all,' she announces. 'I don't want to take anyone's place. I want my own space,' she adds. Paoli has been hogging the spotlight ever since the Vivek Agnihotri directed Hate Story hit the theatres on 20 April.

In Hate Story, Paoli essays the role of Kavya, a journalist who falls in love, gets ditched and decides to take revenge. While the storyline is age-old, what has kept hate story buzzing even after ten days of its release is the way the subject has been treated.

The movie grossed Rs 6.60 crore net at the box office in its first weekend. Long before it hit the theatres, however, Paoli's bare-backed poster had ensured 22 lakh views within eight hours of release on Yahoo.

But then, controversy is nothing new to this gritty actor from Tollywood [the Bengali film industry]. Last year she had grabbed the headlines with an oral sex scene shot in the nude in the movie Chatrak directed by Sri Lankan filmmaker Vimukthi Jayasundara.

'As an actor, I have no inhibitions. When I decide to do something, I just go ahead with it,' says Paoli. However, the actor has some 'dos and don'ts'. 'Vivek [Agnihotri] was very clear that there shouldn't be any unnecessary titillation. The entire act should be very real,' says Paoli of her Hate Story director.

The film which also stars Gulshan Devaiah and Nikhil Dwivedi, marks Paoli's foray into Bollywood. When she got a call from producer Vikram Bhatt, she thought someone was pulling a fast one on her.

'Everyone wants to work in Bollywood. I liked the storyline and so accepted it,' she says. Paoli claims to have had offers from Bollywood earlier, 'but they hadn't clicked so far'.
 
To figure out the graph of Kavya, Paoli spent 2-3 months in Mumbai before shooting started. She also had to shed 10 kilos. She worked out, was put on a strict diet, went through script sessions and interacted with her director and co-stars because, she says, 'I didn't know anyone. So I wanted to get into that comfort zone with them so that there would be no communication gaps during shooting.'

'They treated me like a princess,' she gushes.

The transition from Tollywood to Bollywood, she says, was not very different. 'The only difference is that this is a national release and there is a difference in terms of infrastructure and budget,' says the alumnus of Loreto Bowbazar in Kolkata.

Back home in Kolkata, Paoli has done all kinds of films from regular potboilers to films by stalwarts like Rituparno Ghosh and Gautam Ghosh, which fetched her critical acclaim. But with her first Bollywood film getting such rave reviews, is she growing out of Tollywood?

'It would be unfair to say that. I have learnt everything in Tollywood. I would love to do good Bengali films,' she says.

For now though, Bollywood is on her agenda. She has already bagged another film with Vikram Bhatt, and offers are pouring in.

Paoli Dam, however, would like to take things slowly, and relish the adulation.
Promita Mukherjee

Promita Mukherjee

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