Jiah Khan is all the synonyms that fill in for hot.
Nafisa Khan is her real name, but she changed her first name to Jiah, something that she terms is sexier to pronounce. But Jiah Khan, Ram Gopal Varma's latest muse, is much sexier than her name. And that is something that Varma would attest to. As would Amitabh Bachchan.
The veteran actor falls in love with this young nymph. And that's what Nishabd is all about – the bond between an older man and a teenage girl. But people are more interested in knowing the enigma that Khan has been made out to be by her secretive mentor Varma, than about her debut film. So here goes.
The 18-year-old Khan is a resident of London, but studied at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York. She chucked the course half-way to pursue a lucrative career in Bollywood, thanks to Varma.
Khan is a serious Varma fan and has seen his films scores of times (she has even shot a video of herself with her younger sisters, dancing to Rangeela Re, the hit song from Varma's 1995 release Rangeela). The director did not fail her. The publicity wave that has been created by an actress yet to have a film release – sucessful or otherwise – is proof of this.
There are a lot of stories floating about Khan – that she is Tahir Husain's daughter and Aamir Khan's step-sister is one of them. Jiah is quick to rubbish such rumours. Citing that her father's name is Ali Rizvi Khan, she says she doesn't know her father, has never met him, and doesn't want to know him either.
Jiah's mother Rabia is a writer in the UK and has also been an actress in films such as Hum Rahe Na Hum, Dulha Bikta Hai, Ankush, Locket and Meri Jung. Rabia is an orphan from Agra who was said to have been discovered by Tahir Husain. She even lived with Aamir's family for awhile and converted to Islam. Hence the rumours.
How Jiah found herself in Nishabd is quite a story. She confesses that the meeting with Varma was her best act. She knew she was meeting someone big (she IS his fan), but managed to keep a straight face and walked into Varma's office in hot pants and heels. She walked out with a role.
Jiah says it was sheer will power on her part, which can be understood. Just two years before this, the actress was unceremoniously dumped from Vishesh Films' Tumsa Nahi Dekha, that was directed by Anurag Basu.
The reason was a swimsuit scene that was shot in Dubai. The scene was not allowed to be shot, Jiah yelled bloody murder, Basu did not want a controversy surrounding his female lead and Jiah was shown the door. She was 16 then.
Today, Jiah is swamped with roles. She is popular without proving herself and admits that the situation is scary. But she is wise beyond her years.
Says Jiah, "I am not taking up offers like some crazed bimbette capitalising on popularity. Just as there are bad films that are floated on massive budgets, there are extremely good films that hardly have anything called a budget. At the risk of sounding cliched, I will take up meaningful fare. Till then there is Nishabd."