Malaika Arora, whose reality show dropped last week, works hard at looking like she does and being who she is. And the show that showcases her life and loved ones, is just another way of facing her fear of dropping her guard, and showing her “chill” side
Sexiness could exist in the little things a woman does. That’s what this writer is thinking as she waits to chat with Malaika Arora on the sets of her new reality TV show, Moving in with Malaika. Arora is talking to a member of her team, deep in conversation, and with an imperceptible turn of her head gestures to her make-up man, who hands her a perfume bottle. As she continues to speak, she sprays a little perfume on her wrists, and gets back to work. For this writer, to whom her perfume spraying time is limited to once in the morning and one in the evening, this slight detail is important, and makes Arora even more aspirational.
Arora has always been in the public eye, but there is an aura around her that makes you feel that if you ask extra questions, you may be shown the door. When we say how a shy person like her agreed to a reality show, she corrects us, “Maybe ‘shy’ is not the right word—reserved is more like it.” But, as she emphatically states, it’s been a task to let her guard down. “There have been various moments I haven’t felt absolutely comfortable—but to just open up, that’s been a bit tough. But I will try.”
The show, which is supposed to give you a peek into the life of one of India’s most sexiest women, is aimed at being more honest, less planned. The first episode itself deals with the elephant in the room, her relationship with actor Arjun Kapoor, and her ex, actor Arbaaz Khan, as director Farah Khan chats with her. The other bits of the show out till now, talk about her work—Does she want to act in a movie? How does she plan to deal with a fear of driving after she was involved in a car accident in April? When she is surrounded by people she has known for years, like Farah or friend Neha Dhupia, she is candid and open. “When you are in your comfort zone, you just be—you are not caught up in your head about things. But, what I love is that I can do things, and get over fears that I may have. People look at me and say, ‘What fears do you have?’ But everyone has fears,” says the 49-year-old, “and insecurities, and it’s wonderful I can work on them. I am doing things I never could—like mouth lines in front of a camera [that’s why she never acted in a movie]—and I am discovering things about myself.”
Like this writer, many women look up to Arora, for being ageless. Approaching half a century, she is in the best shape one can be. Many would be envious and/or aspire to be her as they grow older. Does the responsibility to be perfect ever get too much? “I don’t look at it as a chore,” she replies, “I feel good about it. I tell women who reach out to me, ‘It’s not easy. Nothing in life comes easy. Everything is an uphill task—you need to give it your all. It’s easy to say, ‘she has every opportunity’. But that’s not the way it is. I have to work for every bit of it. And so does every woman. As I am in a public space, one puts extra pressure on themselves.”
Yes, and that pressure may get amplified when everyone wants to know everything about her… especially her relationships. “Let everyone tune in,” she says. “I want the show to be aspirational. It’s not cheap feeding fodder, and is not gossipy. I just wanted to talk about things we haven’t been able to talk about. People perceive me to be a diva, but there is a side to me that’s chill.”
She is clear that you once only knew her public persona, and now you know her private one too. But, there are some things she doesn’t want to touch upon more than necessary. “I am not hiding anything, I am not denying anything,” she says firmly. “Everyone knows my past, and everyone knows I am moving on. I don’t want to keep digging up my past. I address everything in the most candid way that I can, and then I want to move on.”
For now, she is basking in the comments, and the support that’s coming in. And she is also cognisant that “some people say things just for the sake of it”. “I have never been this anxious about anything in my life,” she says. “This kind of anxiety doesn’t even exist in my psyche. It was new for me, and of course, I was worried about being judged. I think people have been pleasantly surprised, as they didn’t expect me to be this candid. People have told me that a word here, or a moment here, has inspired them. Lots of women have identified with me, and that’s what matters. And the men? They can sit next to their women and enjoy the show too!”