At a time when newcomers (mostly star kids) try to create headlines (either through a controversy or some bizarre antics) every few weeks, at times, it’s nice to welcome someone from the past who make news even without trying too hard. Last week Bollywood had a stunning visitor, with short sleek hair and a slim figure, who made quite a few people sit up and take notice. She was out and about the city, meeting celebs and giving interviews but she was no doe-eyed newcomer seeking a chance in Bollywood. She was in fact, the 80s actress Meenakshi Sheshadri who had touched down Mumbai to visit her friends.
Meenakshi may be unknown to the iPad generation but she was a hugely popular actress in the 1980s and early 1990s. Promoted by none other than Subhash Ghai, Hero, co-starring Jackie Shroff was her big break. Incidentally, that’s the film that’s being remade right now with Athiya Shetty and Sooraj Pancholi in the lead. She had a good run in the industry starring in blockbusters like Shahenshah and Ghayal opposite almost all the top stars of the time such as Amitabh Bachchan, Sunny Deol, Jackie Shroff, Anil Kapoor and Rishi Kapoor. But after a few years at the top, she chose marriage and kids over a Bollywood career. Like her contemporary, Madhuri Dixit, Meenakshi flew to the US after tying the knot with a gentleman called Harish Mysore.
Meenakshi pretty much remained out of sight for two decades and Bollywood welcomed newer, hotter heroines. But when news about her filtered in a few months ago, there was a lot of buzz. There were even rumours that she was planning a comeback. One story said she had a guest appearance in Ghayal Returns but the actress denied it. The 50-something was remarkably fit and looked young though her interest was only in her family comprising her husband and two children, aged 17 and 12. Her former co-star Rishi Kapoor tweeted that she may consider a comeback if offered the right role. Welcome back Meenakshi!
There was another actress who surprised us with her sudden appearance in Mumbai a few weeks ago – Anu Agarwal. She was spotted at a launch party of a beverage and later, also at a bookstore. The former model and actress had led a controversial life though she has been out of the limelight for a long while now. Anu was one of India’s top models and then she made her debut in Aashiqui (yes, the original one. The sequel starring Shraddha Kapoor and Aditya Roy Kapoor was a blockbuster when it released two years ago). She was a true wild child, shocking the industry with her bold scenes and bohemian attitude. She was never a top actress but back in the early 90s, she surely kept the tabloid pages sizzling!
In 1999, she met with a near-fatal accident that left her in a coma. After she recovered, she decided to become a recluse and sought refuge in yoga and spirituality. She gradually disappeared from the industry and joined a yoga university. Anu has hardly given any interviews nor has she evinced any interest in making a comeback. But the interesting thing is that she is now writing a tell-all book on her scandalous life before the accident and the new journey after.
Both Meenakshi and Anu belonged to an era when actresses were natural, fun and politically incorrect. Wish there were more like them today!