Bollywood star visits La Trobe (Issue 6, 2011)

2011_Malaika_Khan Bollywood dancer Malaika Arora Khan mesmerised her enthusiastic audience during her visit to the University.

Displaying her effervescent personality, deft sense of humour and ability to confidently answer a number of tricky questions, gathered fans lapped up her every word spoken by the Bollywood star.

In the 25-minute question and answer session – that was part of the build-up to the 2011 Indian Film Festival ‘Bollywood & Beyond’ – Malaika took questions on a range of issues from hair and skin care, to living away from home, and what she would teach if she were a lecturer at La Trobe – there was no surprise with her response to this question.

‘We could start with dance for sure. I’d teach you a step here or a step there,’ said Malaika.

Of course, during the interview dancing tips were in high demand, as (many of you will already know) Malaika is one of Bollywood’s most accomplished dancers. A reputation she only enhanced with her special appearance in the song Munni Badnaam Hui, from the highest grossing Bollywood film of 2010, Dabangg.

For anyone yet to see a Bollywood blockbuster, Dabangg would make a great introduction to the genre. It was described by the Times of India as, ‘The on-screen definition of Bollywood… crazy, zany, larger-than-life… with songs and dances that pop out of nowhere and literally oozing star charisma.’

The film also marked the transition of Malaika from onscreen performer to cheque-signing producer.

‘I’ve been in the business for a long time and this is my first foray into actually producing a film. It was pretty different for me and I didn’t know I could actually sign so many cheques in one lifetime,’ joked Malaika.

The crowd was even more pleased to hear that a sequel has been given the go-ahead and filming will begin later this year.

‘The good thing is my husband [Arbaaz Khan]and I produced the first film but this time round my husband will be directing the film as well so it’s a completely new ball game for both of us,’ said Malaika.

Asked if she would again be starring in the film, Malaika quipped, ‘Well that only my husband can answer. I keep asking “will you fit me in somewhere, would you give me Munni reloaded or something.”’

While for the most part the questions were jovial in nature, when asked about what thoughts she had for the thousands of Indian students studying in Australia, Malaika spoke reverently about how impressed she was by them given her own experiences of living abroad at a young age were disastrous.

‘I think hats off to each one of you. I tried doing that when I worked with MTV. I had a job opportunity where they asked me to move to either Singapore or New York. I went for a week and I ran back to India because I missed home so much and I was miserable without friends and family, but I think hats off to you guys. You really do a fantastic job being away from home and making your country proud,’ said Malaika.

On Saturday 12 March Malaika was down at the Moomba Cultural Quarter on the banks of Yarra River to judge the Bollywood Dance Competition that was staged as part of the Indian Film Festival. She then took part in the Guinness World Record attempt at the largest Bollywood dance class ever staged. The record stood at 1082 which was set in Singapore in 2009. However, Singapore’s record is no more as 1235 people danced away to Munni Badnaam Hui on the banks of the Yarra.

Speaking on stage after the record was officially acknowledged, Malaika said: ‘All I can say is Munni rocks Melbourne!’