She’s not your typical prim-and-proper doll of an actress; her half-bitten nails hold evidence of her being a female actor. “It takes a lot of effort to dress like that. I can do it for a role or an award show, but I can’t live my life that way.” These words can only come from Bollywood actor Shilpa Shukla, who treaded an undiscovered territory with her bold, sensual and gutsy role in BA Pass.
At the recently concluded Chandigarh Literary Festival, Shilpa, clad in a green sari, was a contrast to the sexy Sarika of BA Pass. Unlike her characters, in person Shilpa comes across as a girl who is liberal with smiles, neither like Chak De India’s Bindiya nor BA Pass’ Sarika. “I’m a simple girl who hates being high-headed. I would want to kill myself the day I become egoistic,” says she.
Life would have certainly changed after BA Pass, agreeing to which, she says, “It had made me more grounded perhaps, because the role was so larger-than-life. While meeting people now, I’m trying to separate art from the artiste. Things have changed. My perception about myself has changed and that’s what I want to communicate to others.”
BA Pass received exceptional response, says she: “Not a single obscene comment I came across, and, it’s the respect. Going to my hometown in Bihar was the biggest challenge, but they loved the film. It ran in more screens than Chennai Express. People have evolved.
The press has also been very kind to me. Savvy wrote a cover story from page 14 to 41 about me, which I believe is an achievement.”
Silencing those who thought the film was ‘too dark’, Shilpa says, “Look at the state of nation! Bollywood or films shouldn’t be a refuge anymore. Nahi yaar! Bilkul nahi. I’m not saying only make dark films, but this is sheer reality. Such issues, portrayed mindfully, would leave the audience with food for thought. We should start aspiring to be in sync with world cinema. Look at Iranian cinema; they don’t touch such topics, but the topics they touch are so beautiful in their own way. Hindustan me dikkat hai ki dikhana bhi hai aur nahi bhi dikhana.”
About the preparation for the role, Shipa says, “Initially, while reading the script, I refused to play that woman. But, when I read about how she dies, I agreed. Her death offers redemption to her character. That helped me pick her up from the beginning. When trying to understand the character, I was writing notes about her childhood, the possibilities that could have led up to who she became.”
Ask her where she draws her confidence from and the reply is simple: “The reason I’m confident is because I’m very connected with myself. I don’t socialise much, thinking that if one likes your work, they would call you. Then, I’m too poor for a PR. When I learnt that it’s paid, I thought I better save up for Shaheed Baikunth Shukal Ballika Vidyalya in Bihar, my father’s vision.”
Shilpa had recently been to Uttrakhand as a part of Rebuild Uttrakhand project and would soon make a documentary on the same. “I’ve shot for Coffin Maker, featuring Naseeruddin Shah and Randeep Hooda. I’m playing the narrator’s role, and the film is all set to make it to the International Film Festival in Goa.”