Playboy Makes Indian Splash

Casual followers of India’s Internet beauties (yes there exists a genre here) know about Sherlyn Chopra. She is among the many virtual Indian divas that attract some eyeballs by suggestively floating about networking websites, some forgettable movies and predictably a TV reality show.

She is sexy. Her online portrayals have been bold. Like others she hopes to be noticed by a big Bollywood producer, the path to instant money and more fame. Sherlyn is making some progress. She has been picked up, not by a Hindi movie biggie though. She is going to be the first Indian on the cover of Playboy, the pre-Internet porn era smut leader, obviously nude.

Chopra, 28, has said that she did not need to sleep with Hugh Heffner, 86, to land her jackpot assignment along with free bed and breakfast eligibility at the Playboy Mansion. She claims that she did not even need to ``audition’’ whatever that means in Playboy terms. Does this matter? How many would, today?

So, one has to assume that Sherlyn has got where she has on merit of a beautiful face and toned body. There is no doubt about that.

``Stripping nude for an iconic adult magazine is no less than setting oneself free from rigid social conventions. I'm partially nude at home mostly. But then to expect worldwide recognition by being nude at one's home would be foolishness,’’ Sherlyn has said. She surely has it all well sorted.

Over the recent past, Chopra has been trying her best to create a buzz about her stripping act that will appear in November --- uploading on Twitter her pictures during the Playboy shoot with private portions appropriately clouded, a time-tested method by many to gain notoriety, celebrity status, movie offers, money and more.

Internationally, such a strategy has been followed by the likes of Paris Hilton, Pamela Anderson and Kim Kardashian. Their carefully leaked personal porn videos have catapulted them to high earning divas and product brand ambassadors.

Following a similar route in India porn star Sunny Leone has made it to mainstream Bollywood with her first movie Jism-2 due for release. Another wannabe Poonam Pandey has been consistent with her brazen and bold appearances, without much success till now. She regularly uploads pictures of her daily activities --- bathing, sleeping, flushing etc. She has her diehard followers. One does hope she lands a role to do more worthwhile stuff during the day.

Marketing, it can be safely said, is about meeting the ends, the tools, medium and means don’t matter. Being pretty and sexy is a high selling proposition in itself. Still, it is important not to lose perspective about Sherlyn’s big break. Playboy has stretched matters a bit by calling her a ``Bollywood Legend.’’

Probably the drafters of her promotional matter have been absorbing some of the recent coverage centered round the late Rajesh Khanna, a true Bollywood great, who died earlier this month. Setback by US sales, Playboy does need new markets -- what better than a young tech savvy testosterone driven Indian population for online subscriptions. Then there are millions of desis settled abroad crazy about rooting for anything Indian.

Clearly excited about her true appearance on Playboy, Chopra has also anointed herself eligible for the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award that an Indian can win. This clubs her alongside others possible contenders – iconic cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and chess genius Vishwanathan Anand. This does not sound good at all. Tomorrow, we could have streakers at Wimbledon claiming awards for appearing on prime time TV, as they do by default.

To be fair, Chopra has worked hard on her birthday suit appearance in the venerable Playboy, by spending some time at the gym. Such criterion, however, would club her alongside many more claimants to the prestigious award.

Chopra showing skin is a non-achievement. It is titillating, an aspect that Playboy is looking to en-cash to reverse dwindling sales. But clearly, none of the A-list Bollywood or even Hollywood stars today give much attention to a Playboy appearance as essential CV material. Thousands of copies of Playboy would surely have been smuggled into India if a Kareena Kapoor or Katrina Kaif or Deepika Padukone, the current Bollywood hot bods agreed to pose for the magazine.

Chopra cracking Playboy has perhaps happened more than 10-years too late when porn turned into a mass phenomenon that can be accessed by anybody free online. Quality sleaze is a time tested avenue revenue earner. This is not abuse, not arms smuggling or doing illegal drugs. But, to stitch decorum, sanctity, merit to such an occurrence is perhaps going overboard. There are others to celebrate. Chopra sets no standards for others to follow for sure, except perhaps Poonam Pandey.