Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mallika Sherawat Twitter’s Bollywood Ambassador

SAN FRANCISCO — Mallika Sherawat pulled up to the headquarters of Twitter in a long, black limo, poked her head out of the sunroof and exclaimed, “I’m finally at the Twitter office! How exciting!”

The Bollywood star — whose relentless media exposure seemingly rivals that of Twitter — met fans and chatted with Twitter employees July 14. Twirling a bright blue Chinese parasol in her manicured fingers, Sherawat became the latest celebrity to drop by the Internet phenomenon’s South of Market district office. She is also the first Asian celebrity to get the honor, she said.

“I first got introduced to Twitter during the Mumbai terror attacks last year,” Sherawat told India-West, seated with this reporter inside her limo for a quick one-on-one interview. “When I came to Los Angeles for the post-production of my film ‘Hisss,’ I was missing my fans and that was the hardest part of being in the U.S. I was now able to get in touch with my fans, and that is how I got hooked on Twitter.

“The other thing that I find interesting is with that lots of actors and actresses, our personal life is on the radar. But with Twitter, there’s no fear of being misquoted because it’s all there on record.”

Sherawat has over 6,800 followers tracking her posts as @MallikaLA — twice the number that Aamir Khan has, though not as many as Shah Rukh Khan. “I follow a lot of tweets,” she said, “like MTV and Aamir Khan.”

“I’m really blessed because they’re crediting me for bringing Twitter to India,” said Sherawat.

“India is number five on my list of followers. India is pretty new as far as Twitter is concerned, though the fan base is increasing rapidly as more and more people become aware of it.” News reports state that the site is in the Top 15 Web sites in India, where many users tweet about cricket and movies.

“Hisss” is a modern take on the nagin (snake) legend. Directed by Jennifer Lynch and produced by Govind Menon, the horror-drama will screen for distributors at the American Film Market in Los Angeles in November and will have its premiere at the 2010 Sundance film festival, said Menon.

“From the kissing queen of Bollywood to the Tweeting queen of Hollywood,” quipped Sherawat.

Sherawat is also at work on a new American film in which she will play a character based on Kamala Devi Harris, San Francisco’s Attorney General. Harris’s mother is from India and her father is African American.

“My character, Aretha Gupta, is inspired in part by Kamala Harris,” Sherawat told India-West.” I’m going to be shadowing her and following her, and spending a lot of time with her. Beyond that I am not supposed to say anything more.”

The petite actress, who wore a tight, gray knit dress from Anita Dongre, sheer black stockings, and heels to the Twitter office, says she keeps her looks in top shape by being adamant about clean living.

“I’m totally a vegan and a lot into raw foods. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, and I do a lot of yoga,” Sherawat told India-West. “I trained with Baba Ramdev and other masters. There’s not one thing I stick to — sometimes I do hatha yoga, sometimes Iyengar, sometimes what Baba Ramdev taught me, sometimes [Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s] Kriya yoga. A lot of pranayam, and sticking to a vegetarian diet, and leading a very disciplined life is the secret — I go to bed by 9:30 and I wake up by 5:30.”

“Hisss” producer Govind Menon was also on hand at the event to crack a coconut at the office entrance. “This is for the success of Twitter, for the success of ‘Hisss,’ and for the success of all of you here,” said Sherawat.

Sherawat signed autographs for a couple of dozen fans who had congregated outside Twitter’s office on Bryant Street.

“We really like her,” said Ekta Lodhia, 14, and Jashwi Lodhia, 15, of Sacramento. The girls’ favorite Sherawat film is “Welcome.”

Husain Sumra, 22, of Belmont, Calif., said he appreciates the way Sherawat communicates with her fans. “I’ve met Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai at a show, but meeting her here seems more personal.”

“I’m a fan, but I also work here in the building,” said Honal Shah, who cited “Murder” as his favorite Sherawat film. “I just hope she’s not going to tweet that she’s getting married.”


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