Celina Jaitly, who was reportedly harrassed at the Kolkata airport recently, says age is only turning her into a stronger morchewali......What happened at the Kolkata airport recently?
I was at the Kolkata airport where the Central Industrial Security Force jawans misbehaved with me. I was carrying an expensive bag.
And had requested for a tray (like everywhere else in India) where I could have it go through a security check.
Moments after I had placed the bag on the tray, another jawan picked it up and banged it on the conveyor belt.
That damaged the skin of the bag (approximately worth `1.25 lac). My harassment didn’t end there. I spoke in Bengali and was told:
“Madam, yahan Bengali nahin chalti!” Are we not allowed to speak in a language that we are comfortable in?
Is every person supposed to speak in English? Miffed, I insisted on lodging a complaint. But, four/five guys ganged up on me and ridiculed me for having carried an expensive bag.
Did they recognize you as an actor? It’s not about recognition. I’m a taxpayer. Why would I need to use my celeb clout to protest against injustice?
An arrogant guy even ridiculed me and said: “Chalo, dobara bag dalte hain aur dekhte hain ki damage hota hai ki nahi!” Lewd comments were passed and questions were raised over whether.
My bag had a scratch prior to it being sent for a scan! Someone even asked how the bag could have a scratch since there was no sharp surface available to damage it. I had to explain that the damage was caused due to friction! My father is in the Army and so is my brother and I have tremendous respect for our jawans. But this is no way to treat a single woman, who is travelling alone. I was also told I was more than welcome to lodge a complaint.
Did you finally lodge a complaint?
No. At the airport manager’s office, I was harrassed further. Instead of giving me a complaint form, I was given a sheet meant for passengers to rate the cleanliness measures adopted at the airport! Somewhere, I felt that people get a sadistic pleasure out of insulting celebs.
So, what next?
While all this was happening, someone in the office recognised me. Another person pleaded that I should not lodge an official complaint since my action might mean some heads rolling. Though I’ve returned to Mumbai, I’m waiting for my father to help me with the final draft of an official complaint letter before I leave for Canada on Monday to shoot for Anees Bazmee’s Thank You. I often hear of musicians complaining about how their instruments have broken into pieces following mishandling on flights or during security checks. A sarod or sitar is Saraswati or Lakshmi for a musician. I am an actor and, for me, my bag could be equally important. It could have a make-up kit that’s very precious. The make-up kit is my Saraswati. My kitchen fire keeps burning because of this. How can I allow anyone to damage it? Can’t people be careful enough to understand that what we carry along with us could have sentimental and professional value?
Have you ever been a victim of harassment on the professional front?
Oh, yes! During my modelling days in Kolkata, guys would call me to meetings and look at me as if I was some trophy. I was once selected for a toothbrush ad for which I had to fly down from Kolkata to Mumbai. When I reached Mumbai, I was taken to a hotel where I found that my name was registered as the wife of the guy, who was doing the ad! I was told that I either abide by it or forget the ad offer. It felt strange when I was asked to shoot a similar incident in my forthcoming film, Hello Darling.
Do you think your harassment at the airport story will help promote your film?
The context is different. All I’ve earned is a name of being someone who courts trouble.
Men sometimes say that models/stars invite trouble for themselves since they too flaunt their bodies when they do titillating photoshoots...
Men are happy to use such excuses. Even in school, I had guys write obscene things on my scooter because I used to wear jeans to Sunday school. My teacher had said that I should stop wearing jeans! I couldn’t understand that logic. Photoshoots are a part of our profession and are done for film promotions or magazine covers. While I understand that they can draw eyeballs, they can backfire because readers identify our real-life personalities with the image in the photographs. A doctor isn’t supposed to wear scrubs from his operation theatre when he is going to a multiplex. Why then should actors/models be expected to carry their on-screen image in real life?
Does being a sex symbol go against you as an actor?
It doesn’t. The whole definition of sex appeal in India is skewed. Anyone wearing a swimsuit is supposed to have a sex appeal irrespective of whether she is fat or thin. Strangely, Western clothes are supposed to endow a girl with sex appeal and salwar kameez is supposed to make her look like a behenji. I don’t understand this hypocrisy.
But then hypocrisy is so common in the industry...
Yes. How do heroines’ age remain stagnant at 24? I will be celebrating my 29th birthday this year and there are models six years older to me who still claim to be 26! I’ve now decided that for my next birthday, I will, like everyone else, claim that I’m only 24. I also don’t understand why stars keep saying that they aren’t in a relationship with their co-star.
They are living together and doing everything together but ask them about it and they will say that they are not together! Married heroines don’t want to be seen with their children in public. They can go to the extent of saying: ‘I’m single, ready to mingle and those are someone else’s children who look like me!’ When I say I’m single, it’s not that I’m hiding anything. A lot of people in my profession are into relationships out of a sense of loneliness and convenience. But I don’t wish to take the plunge because of that.
How do you spell diplomacy?
I can’t be diplomatic. With time, I’m turning into a stronger morchewali. I’ve never gained anything by doing so. I’ve been called a lesbian for supporting gay rights. I’ve had Hindus, Muslims and Christians all up in arms against me for some of my comments. Peace, not war, for me is standing up for what’s right.