Pamela Anderson moves while she talks. And I don’t just mean inadvertently. Excessively animated, she mimes out everything she verbally describes — a cutesy trait when talking of her kids running amuck, and positively debilitating when speaking of dancing, or posing for a centerfold. Gulp.
The most pneumatic of icons spent a few days in the Bigg Boss house, and her takeaway seems largely to be cooking — “Veena [Malik] and Seema [Parihar] showed me how to cook. I made them start with the basics. ‘Show me how small you guys cut onions.’ And I learnt to make roti. Yeah, roti’s good” — and, well, dancing.
In what is clearly television genius, they made her Dhak Dhak, something Pam, now 43, demonstrates with aplomb as I cross my legs. “Songs here are really long,” she laughs, “but catchy. They stay in your head.” She breaks into a hilariously accented Munni Badnaam, a song she performed with Salman Khan, who she kept calling Simon.
She calls Indian women “sparkly and beautiful”, wonders if our street dogs are fed – “there are so many, but they don’t look skinny, really” — and is flummoxed by Hindi. “I didn’t know if they’re talking or rapping,” she giggles, admitting to nodding along cluelessly in the Bigg Boss house.
She bounces from topic to topic, from animal rights – “Leather in India is a huge problem. I narrated a documentary about that ten years ago, and nothing’s changed” – to Rob Marshall offering her the Broadway run of Chicago – “I’d love to be Roxie, but I can’t leave the kids alone for so long” – to how terrible she thinks she looked when she walked into Bigg Boss. “I couldn’t hold up my eyelashes. But hey, cleavage!” Wink.
Anderson’s on-screen work shows a massive propensity to spoof herself, to consistently play up and mock her bimbette persona. “You have to eventually try and use it to your advantage, right? Not that you’re trying to manipulate anything, but it gives me visibility and I try and balance that with the causes I support.”
“A lot of the work I do now is just to make room to highlight the issues that matter. And I think I’ve been able to create, I think, something meaningful out of a kinda meaningless career, really, you know?”
Meaningless? Hard to agree having been raised on those Baywatch opening credits. Before we had the Internet, we had Pamela Anderson. And despite the blatantly fake superheroine body and the exaggerated blonditude, I always saw Pam as possessing a certain warmth. Or maybe that’s what they mean by the word nostalgia.
Either way, when she leans forward, casually places her hand on my knee and confesses to a moustache fetish… well, she makes the 14-year-old inside me bloody ecstatic.
Originally published in The Hindustan Times, November 21, 2010