September 5, 2002 
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Jessica Choksi
'My brother soiled my reputation'
More on Jessica Choksi, Manisha's body double, and the Ek Chhotisi Love Story fiasco

Vickey Lalwani

The Ek Chhotisi Love Story fiasco is far from over.

The story of Jessica Choksi, Manisha Koirala's double in Shashilal Nair's film Ek Chhotisi Love Story (who sought a lot of sympathy in her interviews by claiming her sorry plight), has taken a dramatic turn.

A section of the regional press (an eveninger in Mumbai, especially), reported that she consumes sleeping pills, has no mother suffering from cancer, and the 11-year-old kid whom she refers to as her brother, is her son.

When contacted, Jessica declared, "This is nonsense. This particular story challenging the presence of my mother and claiming that I have a 11-year-old son, has brought me immense shame. I plan to drag the newspaper which broke this story to court. This same paper was the first to break the story that I was Manisha's body double. They promised me then that they would not publish my picture. But they did. I kept quiet then. No more."

She continues, "People from this newspaper came to my house while I was away. My elder brother told them this rot. He has had no job in the last year, and most of the responsibilities of the house are on my head. Ever since then, he and I are not on good terms, and he took this opportunity to spoil my reputation. These reporters should have checked the facts with me before going ahead. I wish my maid was home when they came. She has been with us ever since I was a kid. She would never have allowed my elder brother to speak such dirty lies."

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What about the sleeping pills? "I am not addicted to these pills. But I have had these. I tried committing suicide two years ago by consuming these pills. Life has been so frustrating. A doctor who was called at home managed to save my life."

About her mother, she says, "My mother is definitely suffering from cancer. She was in Suvarna Hospital, Borivali (a suburb in Mumbai), when these reporters came over. Today, I have sent my brother to bring her back --- I want the world to see her. Mind you, I am getting her discharged against the doctors' wishes."

Officials at the said hospital, Suvarna, insisted on the patient's full name, when this writer called. When asked, Jessica refused to divulge her mother's name.

How will Jessica prove the child is not her's? "How can the kid be mine? I am only 19 years old. I have my birth certificate and passport. This boy is 11. How can a 19-year-old have a 11-year old child?" she quips.

"In all probability, I am calling a press conference shortly to clear the mud being flung at me," she concluded.

Manisha Koirala To another section of the press (an English eveninger in Mumbai), Jessica is said to have revealed that the entire din is the result of a publicity stunt masterminded by Koirala and Nair. "They arranged for the so-called controversy to create hype. It was stage managed to garner media attention," she said.

When contacted, Mr Chaudhary, who looks after the operations in Spice (the PR agency appointed for this movie), said, "I don't know whether this was stage managed by Koirala and Nair. But if they have, it is a conspiracy. All I can say is that I have done my job. My PR skills have succeeded in making the people curious."

Commenting on Jessica, he said, "These doubles are provided by the Junior Artistes' Association. We don't go into the details of their background. But boy! She has got a lot of mileage by this brouhaha!"

Shashilal Nair, however, seemed perturbed when asked for an explanation. "Rubbish! Let me give you the latest. Manisha Koirala has dashed off to Delhi for consultations with the National Women's Commission. She has called a press conference and possibly plans to move the High Court. If she and I were hyping the film, would she do this?"

Commenting on Jessica, he said, "I don't trust these girls. I don't know whether she is lying. Nor am I interested in knowing."


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