From glamour gal to feisty housewife, Mallika Sherawat makes a mark on television with Hawaii Five-0
She’s played a role in a Chinese film with Jackie Chan, has sung Happy Birthday to the current prime minister, Narendra Modi, and starred in Hollywood films like Politics of Love. And what ever she does, Mallika Sherawat certainly does it her way! Now, she is making a foray into American television with a role on CBS crime show Hawaii Five-0. The actress tells us more about living it up in Beverly Hills, while missing the desi drama.
Working on a TV show.
I usually don’t get offered serious roles because of the preconceived notions that people have of me. But when CBS approached me for Hawaii Five-0, I was thrilled. It is a great acting role and an equally great franchise to be part of.
Tell us a bit about the role.
I play an Afghani woman named Farah. She has a history with Catherine (Michelle Borth) and is a typical lower middle-class housewife. I am covered from head to toe, I pray five times a day and in fact, I even learned the Afghani language, Pashto, for the role. I team up with Catherine and Steve (Alex O’Loughlin) because my son gets kidnapped by the Taliban.
What made you accept it?
The minute I was offered a very de-glamourised role, I was drawn to it. This is casting against the type. Being a strong role, I felt a connection with it. Speaking in broken English, fighting for my family and the whole role being a challenge was what made it irresistible.
Indian vs US television.
In America, things are done on a far larger scale. But in terms of professionalism, there is no real difference. The problem in India is the lack of writers. We don’t promote writers. People are stuck on children becoming lawyers, doctors and engineers but no one encourages kids to write.
Working with Alex O’Loughlin.
He really made me feel comfortable despite my jittery nerves. I think he sensed that, so his approach was casual, which brought me out of that fearful phase. He even practiced my lines with me. In Pashto!
Did you enjoy this format?
I loved it! It is tremendous hard work because they work back-to-back with no breaks. I’d love to do more roles if they are acting centred. Luckily for me, they have left my story arc open. So if I am offered a return, I’d be happy to come back! But I did miss the chaos and drama of Bollywood, I must admit.
Connection with Farah.
We both grew up in middle-class families, had to adhere to social and cultural norms, had to fight for ourselves and our individuality, and come out on top. I really got into the role, head scarf and all.
Monday to Thursday, 9 pm on AXN
I am working on a film called Dirty Politics based on Bhanwari Devi, who was gang raped and instead of accepting money, she fought for her rights. We’re filming one last song and then it’s a go. I really want to use my fame to bring justice to women’s rights and fight for things that otherwise get brushed under the carpet.