A TICKET FOR THE CHINA GATE GIRL
It would be interesting to know how Urmila Matondar got into the inner eye of the Indian National Congress. The lady was never known to be a favourite of the national political party and nor of any of those who buzzed in the corridors of those offices, where politics was the only bread and butter. Yet Urmila seems to have sprung for us a pleasant surprise. Her latest utterance for public consumption also suggests that that her choice was also an unanticipated happening.
Born in 1974, Urmila made at the age of 6 years, her ﬁlm debut as a child artist in ﬁlm Qurbani in 1980. She remained uncredited in it. It was Dr Sreeram Lago who got her a role in the Marathi ﬁlm ,Zaakol(1980) to officially launch her. Shyam Benegal who was making Kalyug required a child in the plot of the Goan family, and Urmila was called in. She was deﬁnitely missed out by the audience, but Shekhar Kapoor found her light brown eyes enchanting, and he roped her to play the elder sister in ﬁlm Masoom(1983) under production. This child artist left a big impression on the audience and the ﬁlm became for all the principle associates as landmarks in their respective careers. Urmila did her last child artist role in ﬁlm Narasimha in 1991 and then withdrew from the ﬁlm industry to ﬁnish her graduate studies in Arts from Pune University.
Urmila’s return to ﬁlms was to say ‘explosive’. It was Ram Gopal Verma who reintroduced her in ﬁlm Rangeela in 1995. This was followed by the success by another Telugu ﬁlm Ananganga Oka Roju in 1997. Verma exploited the dancing talent of Urmila to weave a story of a young woman keen to become a famous dancer. Not only Urmila’s lithe body helped, the fresh face of talent also helped.
Matondkar was overnight turned into a ‘star’ . Doors to fortune opened for her. She found ﬁlms in Marathi, Telugu, Hindi and Malayalum to work in. Her audience popularity now began to churn gossip. One tale that refused to die was that she was now a live in with the ﬁlm director Ram Gopal Verma. When you study her career graph, this gossip stuck for some time.
Till date Urmila Matondkar has acted in 66 feature ﬁlms and 9 television serials. Of these ﬁlms, 13 ﬁlms were directed by Ram Gopal Verma, and three of them are courtesy works without payments.
It was in ﬁlm China Gate (1998) that our lady found immortality.
The Australian ﬁlm director Baz Luhrmann was in the middle of his ﬁlm Moulin Rouge(2001) when China Town moved in its limited NRI run in South Australia and Luhrmann found himself as a member of the audience watching the Indian movie. He was mesmerized with Urmila rendering her famous, ‘Chamma Chamma’ dance and decided he must include this song in the track of the ﬁlm in a cabaret scene; which he did. Not only that he also took extracts of one more sad song for a background. Later when Baz visited India he paid great tribute to the Indian composition. Urmila also received some gold dust in this.
Urmila has no background of any political activism. Her North Mumbai Parliamentary constituency is a mixed bag . Sanjay Nirupan has had a good hold on the electorate which is a mix of voters from UP, Bihar and south Maharashtra. Overall, this has been a BJP strong hold, but there has been no outstanding leader. The constituency is for grab who ever works honestly. Urmila has one advantage, which is her Kashmiri based Muslim husband, Mohsin Akhtar Mir, a well off businessman. While the Muslim voters are a small group, Urmila is still a known person within this con- stituency. It is now up to her fan to show their loyalty. Two persons from the ﬁlm industry could be of mate- rial help, namely Govinda Ahuja and Priya Dutt. Priya Dutt has been the election incharge for her father on ﬁve occasions and herself a successful Congress candidate The Hindutva gang will vilify her for having converted to a Muslim. Priya Dutt is a good example of why a converted is equally a good candidate. Another help can come from Aamir Khan who is known to support good candidates.
At least here is a case, of a youth, an educated Marathi, well travelled, who can represent the people in New Delhi and stay honest