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Khushboo: fall of a screen goddess

IndiaGlitz [Wednesday, October 05, 2005]

It was meant to be just another interview, but it was enough to reduce one of Tamil Nadu's most popular actresses, a virtual screen goddess at that, to tears.

Although a relative calm has since set in, the police are still guarding Khushboo's Chennai house to protect her from demonstrators furious over her statement.

Once the magazine carrying her interview hit the stands, all hell broke lose. The Tamil and Telugu film actress faced the wrath of some of the very people who used to literally worship her.

Her effigies were burnt, and the police had to be deployed outside her house. Khushboo is right now not speaking to the media.

The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), a member of India's ruling coalition that joined the protests, even demanded that the Maharashtrian star should quit Tamil Nadu for good.

Only a decade ago a temple was built in Tiruchirapalli town for Khushboo despite the fact that she is a Muslim. Such was her popular appeal across Tamil Nadu, home to a thriving film industry.

Khushboo, who is now a mother of two daughters, earned tremendous fan following in the early 90s "because she deftly portrayed the role of an ordinary Tamil girl", says Shobha Warrier, a film writer.

Khushboo began her career in the '70s as a child actress in Mumbai and acted in films like "Reshma", co-starring Sunil Dutt and Smita Patil. She moved to south India in the '80s, acting in dozens of Telugu and Tamil films.

"She completely identified with the persona of a Tamil girl," added Saraswathi Srinivasan, another film critic.

She married director Sundar C. Sundar's recent successes have been films like "London" and the Kamal Haasan-starrer "Anbe Sivam".

Khushboo has herself successfully effected the transition from that of being a heroine to the housewife on the screen.

Her biggest plus point today is she is the host of the hugely popular quiz show, "Jackpot", on Jaya TV. "She speaks Tamil fluently, which by itself is an achievement," says Warrier.

Khushboo's recent comeback ventures have been in Malayalam cinema.

The continuing attacks on Khushboo despite an apology from her and the protests before her house has many fuming.

"Throughout history, people have arrogated to themselves the authority to decide what is moral and what is immoral," says V. Vasanthi Devi, a rights activist. Actor activist Rohini adds: "There are no doubt different sets of rules for men and women."

The South Indian Film Artistes Association (SIFAA) has condemned the demonstration by political outfits in front of its offices, but it has not come out in defence of her.

Some leading male stars too have kept quiet. One reason is Khushboo's spat with Thangar Bachan.

This led to a strike in the Tamil movie industry, and SIFAA forced Bachan to apologize. He did that. Now Khusbhoo is at the receiving end of a similar vocal tirade.

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