Almost a month ago, buzz was that Shilpa Shetty and husband Raj Kundra planned to kick-off a football league on the lines of cricket’s Indian Premier League. According to Shetty, it was her husband’s idea to provide a much-needed platform to upcoming football players in the country.
“Raj is a Britisher and soccer is his first love. He understands the game well. So, we thought a football league at the national level would introduce professionalism into the sport,” she says, adding that the tournament would offer opportunities to talented youngsters who want to make a career in the game.
“We need better infrastructure to support football in India even though it’s a popular game here,” states Shetty but says she has no idea when the league will materialise.Cricket’s Indian Premier League Season Three ended last Sunday. But for her team, Rajasthan Royals, it ended a week before when they failed to make it to semi-finals.
Captain of RR, Shane Warne, had tweeted, shortly after his team’s last match of the season, that he was exhausted after leading Rajasthan Royals through three seasons. At the post-match ceremony, he hinted that he may not be back.
Bye bye Shane?
Team co-owner, Shetty admits that she will miss Warne if he chooses not to return.“It’s heartbreaking to even think about the team without Shane. He’s an able leader, a dear friend now. He’s someone I trusted completely since he knows the game and Rajasthan Royals well,” she sighs. “But if Shane doesn’t wish to return, I can’t put too much pressure on him.”
Yusuf Pathan’s performance this season was disappointing. But lesser-known cricketersfrom the domestic circuit like Abhishek Jhunjhunwala compensated somewhat. “Rajasthan Royals has always supported new talent in all shapes and sizes,” she smiles.
After their surprise win in Season One, the champs haven’t been able to measure up. The actress admits that the performance in Season One was better than that in Season Two and Season Three. She has her justification ready: “We lost three-four key players through the last two seasons, one after the other.
Two of them, Kamran Akhmal and Sohail Tanvir, were from Pakistan. And eventually, there were big craters in the line-up that not even a magician like Shane could fill up. That’s where we lost the momentum. But, I’m sure we’ll buck up the next season.”
‘TV has been lucky for me’
Zara Nachke Dikha on Star Plus will be your third appearance on TV. Ready to play judge on the dance reality show?
(Laughs) Completely. I’ve shot for two episodes and it’s a rocking show. I was amazed to see the kind of dancers there are on the small screen. The show was on Star One last season. The canvas is bigger and so is the competition this time.
Would you agree that TV has been lucky for you?
Completely. It’s a ‘kind’ medium because it doesn’t demand too much of my time. But it has always been rewarding.I was applauded all over the world after I won Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. It was a harrowing few weeks but it was worth it eventually.I moved on to host Bigg Boss Season Two on Colors. And it brought me closer to my fans.
Did you watch Zara Nachke Dikha last season, when Malaika Arora Khan and Chunky Panday were the judges?
I didn’t watch it all through because I was extremely busy last year. But I did watch a couple of episodes. Malaika was very graceful and Chunky so funny. It was the concept that had me hooked.
Vaibhavi Merchant, Arshad Warsi and you have different opinions on dance. Won’t there be heated arguments?
Thankfully, we’re on the same page right now. I agree that the three of us look at dance from diametrically different perspectives.Vaibhavi is a choreographer. So, she looks at it like a technician and goes into minor details before giving marks. Arshad is a choreographer-turned-actor. He considers both technique and art. I’m a trained dancer but I grade every performance on soul and not so much on technique
Arshad must be feeling lost sandwiched between two women?
(Laughs) Take it from me, Arshad is happy sitting amidst so many women. Vaibhavi is neutral but I always side with the girls.
Will you accept another show?
It’s too early to talk but compared to movies, TV requires fewer days of work. Usually, I shoot two days a week for reality shows. I’ve cut down on movies. I’ve just got married and it takes a while to settle in. TV is my way of staying in touch with my fans viewers without sacrificing on family life. Lately, several of your colleagues have stepped in to host or judge TV reality shows.
Would you say that money is the big draw as far as the small screen is concerned?
Money is definitely one of the biggest draws. I can say that because I was handsomely paid when I hosted Bigg Boss 2 on Colors. I was the first established actress to host a TV show. (Laughs) And earning big bucks makes you realise your worth. And as I pointed out before, TV is not even hectic work. I guess, that’s why it is pulling in more Bollywood stars every day.
What’s the score on the film front? What’s happening with The Man? It was said that you had pushed the schedule ahead following your sudden marriage.
That’s nonsense! I didn’t push back the dates. Sunny (Deol) had some hassles of his own. There were some production issues too, which I am clueless about. This movie has taken up a lot of my time. I didn’t take on more projects because I was working on The Man. I don’t know what’s happening on that score.
You were also working on an Indo-China co-production, Desire, right?
(Laughs) Absolutely right! I was shooting for the film even a week before my wedding. But after that ‘ille’.The schedule has got pushed back following the global slowdown which is understandable given that it is a co-production. Once we finish with the post-production, we should be able to fix a release date. Hopefully, this year itself.
ON HER CLUB, ROYALTY
I don’t want to do anything illegal. Raj and I are waiting for permission to come through before we open our club. It should take a couple of weeks more. We hosted a party to announce Royalty in the middle of the IPL season when my team was in the city. I wanted the players to be a part of the celebration.
ON STARTING HER FILM PRODUCTION
‘Casting is the problem’
I’m dying to start my production. After I started work on the film, I’ve realised what producers and directors go through.I have a director on board. But we’re stuck on casting. We have to get it right before we can go any further. If we don’t get the stars, then I’ll pull out of the project. I’d rather not make the movie because mediocrity has no excuse. I don’t want to make my projects look second-rate.
ON HER RANGE OF READY-TO-EAT FOOD
‘Always eat healthy’
I think eating and eating right are two different things. I would advise people to eat healthy. I’ll soon be launching my range of chutneys, pickles and ready-to- eat curries that will have only 10 per cent fat. It’s happening in collaboration with the V8 Gourmet Group of UK. They have lovely take- away joints like Tiffin Bites and Bombay Bicycle Club that have made Indian food popular in the UK.
ON RAJ KUNDRA
‘Marriage hasn’t changed me’
It’s been six months. It’s still hasn’t sunk in that I’m a married woman. Raj and I are more friends than husband and wife. Our equation hasn’t changed.He’s my support system. The only difference that marriage has made to our lives is that we now share the same roof. And are a lot more responsible towards each other now.
A lot of people have asked me why Raj is not a part of Zara Nachke Dikha too. I think everyone wants to see us together on a public platform and that’s such a wonderful feeling. But he has a lot of work to do... Lot of businesses to attend to. So, I’d rather let him to do just that.
ON HER NEW SPA
‘You need to be fit’
The spas are doing really well in the city. We’re ready to open one in Ghatkopar now. I think besides staying fit you also need to pamper yourself. The body goes through serious turmoil and it needs rejuvenation all the time.
ON SHAMITA’S PREMATURE EXIT
‘My marriage was more important for her’
None of us, including Shamita, was thinking about what would have happened had she stayed on at the Bigg Boss 3 House till the end. My marriage was more important for her. In any case, everyone got to see another side to her. She was as dignified on the show as I was on Big Brother. It doesn’t matter to her or to any of us that she had to make a premature exit from the show.