‘I expect a bravery award’

"Madam ke saath saath, controversies ki vajah se mujhe bhi log jaan gaye hain (Thanks to controversies surrounding Madam, I, too, am a known name now)," quips Sohail Rashid over the phone from Lahore. "I typed my name with that of hers on Google and found 10-12 results," he adds. Rashid is PRO to popular Pakistani actor-model Veena Malik, who is now a household name in India.

It is widely perceived in Pakistan that Veena thrives on controversies and scandals. She became the talk of the town courtesy the match-fixing scandal involving her ex-boyfriend and Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif.

Try telling her that and she aggressively refutes the charge: "I am already a well-known actor. Why would I employ some tainted person's name to my advantage? If I were a mere babbler, the ICC wouldn't have accepted the evidence I provided against Asif."

She continues: "I seriously expected a bravery award after what I have done. My life isn't secure anymore after these revelations. This is a male-dominated world and they try to cut to size all bold women. In Pakistan, it is a crime to be bold, beautiful and young. And I am all three."

Veena instantly reminds one of the brazen and vocal Rakhi Sawant.

She speaks flawless English, albeit the Punjabi accent (born in Rawalpindi, resides in Lahore). She holds a BA degree in Sociology, Psychology and Persian, unlike most in Pakistani filmdom.

There were reports that she maligned Asif because she wanted to call it even with him as he didn't treat her well. Pat comes the reply: "Rubbish! Did I get him caught on doping allegations earlier in Dubai and the IPL? He is a habitual offender and a wayward vagabond. He has fooled around with many other girls, but I remained silent throughout. I am a 'journalistic' actor, I get my facts right before doing anything."

Born as Zahida Malik, she has earned rude sobriquets like "poor man's Meera" (Pakistani actor who had also acted in Indian movies) and "Viagra Malik".

Her reportedly topless pictures were allegedly uploaded on the Internet by Wasim Akram's fashion shutterbug brother, Naeem Akram. She has recently worked in an Indian Punjabi film, Pind Di Kuri. Veena is also a comedian and mimic artiste of repute. Her political satire, Hum Sab Umeed Say Hain, roughly translated, bears what is known as "double meaning" in India and Pakistan. While it means 'we are hopeful,' it is also a colloquial expression for: 'we are pregnant'. This show, aired on Pakistan's Geo TV, grabbed the highest ratings till she quit it to act in Miss Dunya on another news channel, Dunya TV.

Her parodies of Sherry Rehman, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice got her loud applause.

Regarding her favourite politician, she says, "The current leadership is a disappointment. The Sharif camp's ratings have declined. If there is any hope for Pakistan, it's Imran Khan. We must give him a chance. He told a conservative Pakistan that partying and having relationships don't have a bearing on one's work." She can't stop praising Pervez Musharraf for his "contribution in foreign policy". "He handled the US tactfully, he started Pakistan's war against terror, and above all, he improved relations with India," she counts.

Amongst Indian political icons her favourite is Mahatma Gandhi. And in cinema, it's Aamir Khan.

"Shah Rukh and Salman are not actors but 'over-actors'. If there's an actor in India today, it is Aamir. And the guy I swoon for is John Abraham. Oh God, he's so good looking!" she gushes.

Her favourite Indian cricketer is Sachin Tendulkar, who, she says, has overshadowed every other cricketer in India. "But if there's a cricketer I deeply admire, it is Brett Lee."

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