Shilpa Shetty: My struggle started mid-career, when I was typecast in glamorous roles
Shilpa Shetty completes 25 years in Bollywood, this year. She made her debut with the hit film Baazigar (1993) alongside Shah Rukh Khan, in a two-heroine film, that also starred Kajol. But Shilpa says a career in films was never planned, and the film that gave her a sound footing in the Hindi film industry, was actually incidental. “I didn’t think I was going to make it (acting) a career. At 17, I was going from one agency to another to earn pocket money, as a model. I only got into that because someone suggested that since I am tall, I should try my hand at modelling. After getting a portfolio done and sending pictures to different agencies, I was offered a film. Voh toh bani nahi, but somebody in that agency noticed me, and told the producers of Baazigar, and the rest is history,” says the
In the ‘90s, Shilpa worked in various films, but was almost always seen in a glam avatar. That, she says, was a result of being typecast. “Back in the day, when somebody had a hit film, everybody would love to cast that one person only. I didn’t have to struggle to land films. It actually started mid-way towards my career. People started typecasting me in just glamorous roles. At that point, we were just like glamour dolls in movies, we were dedicated to doing that. After this, there was a lull in my career, but then Dhadkan (2000) happened, and my career revived. I have seen it all — the highs and the lows. But I never gave up,” says Shilpa.
Shilpa had her last full-fledged role in a Bollywood film 11 years back in Apne, (2007). Asked what has kept her away from the silver screen for all these years, the actor who is also a writer and a producer, says, “I was busy with a host of stuff. I recently released my book, Diary of a Domestic Diva. I am also a wife and mother, which is a full-time job! My last appearance was in 2014 (Dishkiyaaoon), but I took the break was out of choice. I delivered my son Viaan in 2012, and I believe that the first five years were really important for him. If I wanted to work in films during that time, I would have to give at least 40-60 days for a film, which I didn’t want to.”
However, she does yearn to get back to films. “I miss it (acting in films). I did television, so I am still there in people’s minds. I had to work just one-two days there, I could give the rest of my time to my son.”+ +
A lot is said about how there are many people out there who try and take advantage of struggling actors. Did Shilpa herself come across such people in her initial days in Bollywood? “When you have a successful film, you don’t have to go through any struggle (as) you become a star overnight. (But) it must be hard for those people who are trying to make it, I am sure,” says Shilpa, and hints at a possible comeback when we ask if there’s anything in the pipeline.+ +
“I wish I could reveal, but I am bound by contract formalities and clauses. I do have something. I can’t announce it yet, it will come out very soon,” Shilpa signs off.
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