There is nothing tongue in cheek when it comes to what Indian politicians speak. But everything turns serious when it comes to Hema Malini’s cheeks!
As Bollywood’s ‘Dream Girl’ and BJP’s MP from Mathura celebrated her 71st birthday (October 16), the comparison of the quality of roads to her cheeks has remained a popular narrative for politicians.
On Wednesday, Madhya Pradesh law minister PC Sharma said pothole-ridden roads in Bhopal will soon be made “pretty” like Hema Malini’s cheeks. Expressing concern over the bad condition of roads, Sharma said the roads have spots similar to small-pox marks on “(BJP general secretary) Kailash Vijayvargiya’s cheeks.”
“Under the leadership of public works minister Sajjan Verma and directives of chief minister Kamal Nath, the roads would be repaired in 15 days. They will be made chakachak (pretty), like Hema Malini’s cheeks, in 15-20 days,” Sharma said.
In 2005, the then-Railway Minister Lalu Prasad’s statement that he will make Bihar roads “as smooth as Hema Malini’s cheeks,” had grabbed headlines.
The RJD leader later deflected the criticism, alleging that the statement was given by ex-prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “I have often been lampooned by the media for making foolish statements. I was attributed a statement that Bihar’s roads would be made like the cheeks of Hema Malini. However, this statement was originally made by Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and he played the mischief and somehow attributed the statement to me,” Lalu had said.
However, during a visit to Bihar in the same year, Hema Malini had narrated her experience of travelling by road to Rajgir from Patna and how the numerous jerks she received on the way hampered her dance performance.
In the ensuing state elections, the actor’s cheeks had become an election issue. The ensuing Nitish Kumar government made a promise that road repair in Bihar would be its top-priority.
Madhya Pradesh with 20 National Highways and many state highways have a total 13,000 km of roadways in the state. Bihar on the other hand, has a total road network of almost 8,500 km.
Politicians’ awe for the actor’s cheek is not just restricted to MP and Bihar. In 2013, former Chhattisgarh PWD minister Brijmohan Agarwal compared the state’s roads to Hema Malini. Agarwal’s supporters had issued full-page advertisements in a local magazine with pictures of the actress and the state’s roads. “Swapn sundari samaan pradesh ki chamchamati sadken (Beautiful roads of the state shine like the Dream Girl),” the advertisement read.