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Caught.. and bowled

Cut to 1993...Baazigar had just released and Shilpa, even in an abbreviated role, had made a sudden impact. Slightly gauche, girlish, giggly, she was anything but a star. Roshmila Bhattacharya remembers the 'old' Shilpa.

entertainment Updated: Apr 18, 2009 20:57 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya

IPL Season Two is here. And over the next month-and-a-half, you can expect to see a lot of her. As co-franchise owner of the Rajasthan Royals, the defending champions, Shilpa Shetty is guaranteed a lot of screen time. And for me it’s flashback time.

Cut to 1993.. Baazigar had just released and Shilpa, even in an abbreviated role, had made a sudden impact. So there I was, in her Chembur home, making small talk with Sunanda Shetty, a stately star mamma. Then, Shilpa breezed in. Slightly gauche, girlish, giggly, she was anything but a star. I was instantly charmed.

A year later, I met her again.. at Sumeet Studio. In between dubbing for Aao Pyaar Karen and munching on a Cheese
Jungle, she talked movies.. and how she was going to a take a tumble, this time from a tower, in Main Khiladi Tu Anari.

No push off
“It pays to die in a movie but I refuse to be pushed around, in film after film. That would be borrring! At least, in Main Khiladi.. my double takes my place. So I hope people leave the theatre remembering Shilpa Shetty and not Humpty Dumpty,” she giggled. Mamma scowled and told her to get more serious.. I smiled and hoped she never would.

Over the years, I’ve watched this too tall, too thin, too dusky actress struggle to find a place for herself in an industry whose concept of beauty then was fair and lovely. I’ve watched the legy duckling metamorphose into a swan and take flight.. then halt in mid-flight, after falling in love with Akshay Kumar.

She didn’t try to hide the relationship.. or the break-up. I met her as news of Akshay’s impending shaadi with Twinkle Khanna was buzzing on the grapevine. This time she didn’t giggle.. but nor was she teary-eyed.

Moving on
“Do I look tense.. depressed.. wallowing in self-pity?” she asked. I had to admit that she didn’t. And I was warmed when she moved on.. without looking behind.

After a two-year professional lull, she steamed up the screen with the Shool chartbuster, Main aayee hoon UP Bihar lootne. The men were wowed.. the women envious of her patli kamar.. and kids worked at raising their eyebrows sky-high!

From item girl.. to serious actress, Shilpa surged ahead, confident that her big moment was just around the corner. Her
mother, an astro-palmist, had predicted it. She was right. The Big Brother win made her the toast of the world.

Dream on..
It was in U K that she found the love of her life. Years ago, when discussing her dream man, she’d told me he had to be tall, with sparkling eyes, a sexy smile and definitely not a bald pate.. understanding, with a sense of humour.. and well-to-do because “I can’t live on love and fresh air.” Raj Kundra fits the bill perfectly.

On Valentine’s Day, he bought her a 14-karat rock for her ring finger.. and a 11.7 per cent stake in the winning IPL team. And there’s more.. an apartment in Juhu.. a seven-bedroom mansion in Weybridge, Surrey.. an October wedding.. babies..

But there’s time for that yet. For now, he can just turn her dream date into reality. I still remember Shilpa saying with a faraway smile, “I want to fly off to Sun City. It would make me feel on top of the world, higher than even Miss World, Aishwarya Rai.”.

Shilpa is in South Africa now.. and Sun City is just a drive away. With her dilwala by her side, this soon-to-be-dulhaniya must feel on top of the world already. Howzatt!