Koena Mitra, Model and Actor

Koena Mitra, Model and Actor

Asit Dixit and Umesh Patil |
February 19, 2019

“Nahi, nahi. Kejriwal ko maine thoda troll kiya tha … Kejriwal ko maine thoda troll karke likha tha unka thoda mazaak udake likha tha. Public ko bahut pasand aaya tha wo (No, no. I somewhat trolled Kejriwal … I had written while trolling Kejriwal. I had poked fun at him. Public loved it very much).”

A graduate of Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute of New York, a major in psychology and trained in western dance forms, Kolkata-born Koena Mitra won the beauty pageant Gladrags Mega Model India 2001. She began modeling while still in school. After she had featured in some music videos, her big Bollywood break came with Anil Kapoor starrer Musafir in 2004. With over 15 films behind her, Koena has enjoyed success in Bollywood. The celebrity has about 2 lakh followers on Twitter and about 1.30 lakh on Facebook. We met Koena at an Oshiwara coffee shop in Mumbai.

We brief her how this BJP promotion on social media is targeted on young generation who are hooked to it. But whatever you do, you have to do it in such a way as would not lead to an impression that you are doing it for BJP for money. Understanding this delicate balance of the assignment, Koina says, “Jo party BJP party se nahi hai jo bahar se hai uska impact bahut accha hota hai ([Yes, like] A person who is not part of the BJP party but who is from outside … it creates really a very good impact).” Asking us if we have an account on Twitter, Koena reveals, “Ismein agar aapne notice kiya hoga main jo bhi likhti hoon Narendra Modiji ko leke likhti hoon ya BJP ko leke ya fir criticize karti hoon toh log aisa hee sochte hain ki mujhe endorse karne ke liye kaha gaya hai waise bhee sochte hain theek hai na (If you have ever noticed I write for Narendra Modiji or the BJP or write to criticize something, people think I have been asked to endorse the BJP. Anyway, people also think like that. That is fine).”

You see if a celeb like Koena write something, we say, it carries a lot of credibility among your followers. Koena is quick to grab what we are expecting from her. “Haan toh uss cheej ko na mujhe apni language mein apne hissab se likhna hai … aisa nahi lagna chahiye ki party jo bolna chah rahi hai main wahi baat dohra rahi hoon (Yes, I will have to write in my language in my style … so that it should not look like I am regurgitating what the party wants to say).” Yes, this is what is required from you, we say encouragingly. We will provide you the content. “Main apne hissab se likhoongi … matlab kabhi-kabhar usko humour ke saath likhna hai kabhi-kabhar usko masti-mazaak karke likhna hai kabhi-kabhi thoda tease karke, taunt karke likhna hai jaise maine kal bhi likha tha thoda taunt karke maine likha tha logon ko pasand aaya (I will write in my style … I mean sometime it should written using humour, sometime taking a dig, sometime teasing or sometime taunting, as I did yesterday only. People liked it).”

Yes, as you can poke fun at Pappu, we come with an example. Here, Koena makes a revelation saying, “Nahi, nahi. Kejriwal ko maine thoda troll kiya tha … Kejriwal ko maine thoda troll karke likha tha unka thoda mazaak udake likha tha. Public ko bahut pasand aaya tha wo kyonki official accounts se aisa nahi likh sakte (No, no. I somewhat trolled Kejriwal … I had written while trolling Kejriwal. I had poked fun at him. Public loved it very much. We cannot write such things from our official accounts [directly]).”

Completely on board, rather overenthused for, the undertaking, Koena says, “Mujhe jaanana hai every month har month jo hai kitna (I want to know how many every month).” Four to five contents a month, we tell her. “Matlab chaar Twitter, chaar Facebook na ek topic pe (You mean four messages on Twitter and four on Facebook on a single topic)?” Koena asks again. Yes, but on all three social media platforms. She has account only on two platforms, she informs. That is fine, we tell her. We will provide you the content, which will number four to five maximum depending on the issue at the moment of time. It is entirely on you how you handle the content at that time while conveying our message to your followers. “Four to five, wo aap decide karenge (Four to five, that you will decide).” Yes, we say, we will do that depending on emerging issues.

Apart from the general elections, there are elections due in some states. Why not chip in when state elections are held, we suggest. While agreeing, Koena reveals, “Haan, kyonki Karnataka ke time pe maine kiya tha (Yes, I have already done that during Karnataka elections).” Now, it is logical for both parties to discuss the money part. “Payment mode?” Koena asks. How much cash she would like to be paid in cash, we ask her, as it is political money.

But contrary to most of the celebs interviewed by Cobrapost during the course of this investigation, Koena wants to be paid less in cash, as she says, “Jitna kum se kum ho … sabse zyada problem toh wahi hai na ki hum salary de kisi ko jo bhi dein hum cheque se dete hain (As less as possible [in cash]… The problem is whatever salary I pay any of my staff, I pay them by cheque).” We then explain her that we would not put all this in black and white in our contract as it is a hidden agenda. We would show you to have been hired for some brand promotion. We ask her in what percentage would she like her fee to be paid in cash. “Nahi, pehle amount toh fix karo ek (No, first fix an amount [fee]),” says Koena.

Agreeing promptly, we begin to negotiate her fee for the assignment. Asks Koena, “Aap bataiye best price aap bataiye paanchon (Tell me the best price for all five contents).” We quote a price of Rs. 3 lakh for one content and accordingly say we will pay her Rs. 15 lakh a month. Negotiating hard, Koena pitches for a better bargain. So, we finally agree to pay her Rs. 25 lakh a month for her services.

We come back to the mode of payment. In what percentage you should be paid in black and white, we ask. “Kya best aap white se kar sakte ho best (What best you can pay me in white),” she asks in turn. Maximum 50 percent, we say. Koena seeks to know, “Fifty matlab amount abhi three months ka hai … toh matlab 75 lakhs ka 50 percent kitna hota hai (It means 50 percent of the amount for three months … so how much is 50 percent of Rs. 75 lakh).” She says she would like to keep this fee for the first three months, after which she would like it to be revised. We dutifully agree.

After we have settled everything with the actor, Koena makes another revelation. Telling us she had received a similar offer from the Congress Party two years back, she says, “Unhone kaha tha ki humein party ke baare mein baat karein ki kya kya kaam ho raha hai usko thoda highlight karein unka accha kaam jo bhi wo kar rahe hain ya koi bhi tareh ka election ho toh uss cheej ko highlight karein social media pe toh uss waqt maine unhein seedha bol diya tha ki I personally don’t follow this (He told me to speak about his party. Highlight what the party is doing, and highlight their good works on social media whenever an election is due. But I told him that I personally don’t follow this).”

Tell us if you have any doubt, we ask. While assuring us on that count, Koena does not stop bargaining. “Nahi, doubt clear three months ka aap kariye three months ke kyonki itne din se main active nahi thi abhi last three months se bahut zyada active hoon toh mere publicist se baat karke isko main thoda boost kara doongi … taaki three months ke baad usko jo baaki five months ka hai wo aap better karne kee koshish kariye (No, doubt is clear. Pay me for first three month. I was not active for a long time [on social media] but I am now quite active. I will talk to my publicist to boost it … so after three months pay me better for the next five months).” We happily agree.

After delving into the issue some more time, we advise the actor to be careful to not post anything that goes against the BJP. Assuring us, she again reveals, “Nahi wo toh jayega nahi kabhi-kabhi main doosri party ko target karke bhi likhati hoon (No, I will not post anything like that. Sometimes, I also write targeting other political parties).” While appreciating her pro-BJP stance, we again reiterate that the actor needs to praise all good works done by the BJP government and defend it when it finds itself in any controversy. She will be provided the necessary content with facts and figures by our research team. “Phone pe denge (Will they give the content on phone)?” she asks. But before we could satisfy her query, she suggests, “Mail pe na dein toh better hai (It is better if they don’t give it by mail).” No, it will be sent on your WhatsApp, we say. “Haan, WhatsApp pe baat mail karne kee zaroorat nahi hai (Yes, on WhatsApp. There is no need to send mail),” says the actor, satisfied.

As we swear her to secrecy, she gets into journalist bashing. When in an off-the-cuff remark, we say journalists are a nuisance to the party, Koena observes without mincing words, “Koi kaam nahi hai mujhe lagta hai ki Pakistan se inhein diya jaata hoga fund … mujhe lagata hai inko diya jaata hoga fund kyonki ye Kashmir ke baare mein baat karte hain toh ye Kashmiri ke favour mein hain humare Army ke against mein hain. Kuchh bhi baat karte hain toh criminals kee taraf se baat karte hain … humesha lagta ki ye criminals ke supporter hain (Yes, they don’t have any work. I think they get funds from Pakistan, because whenever they talk of Kashmir, they talk in favour of Kashmiris only. They are against our Army. They talk like they are on the side of criminals. I always feel they are supporters of criminals).”

With Koena venting her anger on us journalists who are not ultra-nationalists like her, our interview with the actor ends.

After the interview, Koena exchanged messages with us, seeking updates. Obviously, she is eager to get the contract. In one such message sent on June 7, 2018, she asks, “It’s been 5 months. What happened to your project and plan?” In another message, she informs us she has tweeted for the BJP indirectly. She even reverted to our official mail saying aye to our proposition.

We had e-mailed a questionnaire to all these celebs to know what they would like to say on what we have revealed in our story. Click here to read the answers.

Reply of Bollywood Celebrities 

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