Birthday Special: The Mandakini story
The oomph girl of the 1980s celebrates her 45th birthday today, July 30.
A small town beauty comes to Mumbai and is offered a dream launch under the industry's greatest showman.
But more than the teenager's striking blue eyes, snow-white complexion and author-backed role, it's her willingness to expose like no other Hindi film heroine before that gets noticed.
A household name already, she hopes to conquer Bollywood with her consecutive projects.
Except her risqué debut makes such a strong impression, every other filmmaker to follow strictly concentrates on her glamorous facet as the hero's sultry arm candy.
And while her career sails along indifferently, rumours of her close connection with a certain underworld don emerge.
Not too long after that, she shuns limelight and fades into oblivion only to surface years later and update the media about her status quo.
The erstwhile sex symbol and object of many a male fantasy has graduated to become an ex-monk's missus and mother of two.
Glitz, glamour and grapevine are history for the light-eyed siren who began her career as RK discovery.
Yes, we are talking about Mandakini who turns all of 45 today.
Here's remembering the forgotten oomph gal of the 1980s.
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Image: Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili
The RK heroine
Mandakini's real name is Yasmin Joseph.
She was born in Meerut but harboured great dreams of coming to Mumbai and becoming a star.
After she met actor/filmmaker Raj Kapoor at his studio, he took a screen test, like he had of countless others before.
The results pleased him so much; Kapoor decided she was the ideal girl to play Ganga -- a naïve village girl who's relentlessly exploited by sleazy men even as she struggles to reunite her baby with her affluent husband -- in his ambitiously scaled Ram Teri Ganga Maili.
Image: Mandakini in Ram Teri Ganga Maili
Bold and Beautiful!
Though costarring opposite Kapoor's youngest son, Rajiv aka Chimpoo, Mandakini didn't have to worry about screen time politics.
As the melodrama's central most figure, she featured in nearly every frame.
It's not her feeble histrionics but readiness to bare her assets in Ram Teri Ganga Maili's iconic waterfall scene draped in nothing except a white transparent sari, perform elaborate duty love-making/kissing and breastfeed on celluloid that seems sensational even after almost two decades.
Image: Mandakini with Rajiv Kapoor in Ram Teri Ganga Maili
Life outside RK
Often referred to as a one-film wonder with good reason, Mandakini failed to live up to the hype.
At one point, she was competing for the Best Actress trophy at Filmfare against the likes of Dimple Kapadia and Padmini Kolhapure but her subsequent participation in action-driven drivel hurt her chances for anything remotely meaningful.
Instead the curvaceous pin-up romanced Jeetendra, Karan Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Govinda and Mithun Chakraborty in films you're least likely to remember -- Aag Aur Shola, Jeeva, Loha, Jeete Hain Shaan Se, Dushman, Hawaalat and Hisaab Khoon Ka.
Image: Karan Kapoor and Karan Kapoor in Loha
On a high note!
Mandakini sparkled briefly in Mithun da's razzle romp, Dance Dance as a fellow pop star and supportive beau.
But it's her likeable cameo as Madhuri Dixit's object of envy and Anil Kapoor's tenderness in N Chandra's superhit Tezaab that offered a tiny glimpse of her potential under keen guidance.
Image: Mandakini with Madhuri Dixit in Tezaab
Unlike her Tezaab co-star and fellow RK alumni -- Madhuri Dixit, Mandakini didn't get too many memorable song and dances in her kitty.
But some of these songs picturised on the hottie with dreamy blue-eyes, a feature highlighted closely and unfailingly in every single movie of hers, went on to become a rage.
Sun Sahiba Sun (Ram Teri Ganga Maili), Roz Roz Aankhon Tale (Jeeva), Julie Julie Johnny Ka Dil Tujphe Aaya (Jeete Hain Shaan Se) and Dil Mera Todo Na (Dance Dance), Kya Chaani Jaisa Tan Hai (Loha) you remember?
While on music, did you know the lady could carry a tune?
Though the gig didn't work out, Mandakini flexed her singing chops and dished out two non-film albums -- No Vacancy and Shambala.
Image: Mandakini with Sanjay Dutt in Jeete Hain Shaan Se
The Big Scandal!
When photos of Mandakini enjoying a cricket match with noted underworld figure Dawood Ibrahim splashed in several publications, speculation of a liaison and hush-hush marriage were quick to follow.
The actress continues to deny any romantic links and attributes it as occupational hazard wherein celebrities socialise with individuals from all walks of life.
Still the controversy proved to be a huge blow for her career.
Bye Bye Bollywood!
The Jaal heroine bid adieu to Bollywood to marry a (former) Buddhist monk and doctor, Kagyur Tinkur Rinpoche.
Rinpoche's no stranger to fame.
Remember that bonny baby model in those vintage Murphy radio ads, the one so heavily referenced in Anurag Basu's Barfi!?
That's Mr Mandakini for you.
Despite their combined contribution at memorable imagery, the couple prefers to keep a low-profile existence and raise their kids -- Raabil and Rabze.
Image: Mandakini with Govinda in Aakhri Baazi
The Mandakini hangover!
She may have left the silver screen shivering with her tempting show of sexuality in the mid-1980s but Mandakini has no interest in facing the arc lights or reliving her yesteryear glory.
While RK's Ganga has moved on, Bollywood cannot resist its urge for art imitates life.
In Milan Luthria's Once Upon ay Time In Mumbai Dobaara, Sonakshi Sinha's Jasmine is modelled around Yasmin aka Mandakini.