Lady Limelight is a jealous lady. She wants all of your attention. You don’t have any time to think of anything else but Lady Limelight, because pretty soon that light will be shinning on somebody else. So you better do it while you can.
– Buck Owens
Yesterday I was seeing a news bulletin about Shilpa Shetty wishing to meet Jade Goody, and she was telling the media that she is hoping for a miracle to save Jade Goody. She hadn’t completed the sentence yet and I laughed out loud. How fake was she! I have always felt that she is so superficial and yet successful at portraying the apparent shallowness.
If you see her filmography, you will observe that in the last 10 years in Bollywood, she has not given more than 3 hits. In 2000 she had just one hit in Dhadkan, then next 5 years were barren. Then, in 2005 she was part of the success of Dus. And her last hit was Life-In A Metro which released 2 years ago. So, she has only 3 movies from the past decade to boast about. But still, she continues to hog the limelight and be in the news. I am just amazed at how she manages to do it, make public appearance at all the events possible mainly because she is invited to them. What makes her a part of the guest-list?? No cinematic achievements, not a supermodel, not a sports personality, a mediocre actress, not venturing into politics and yet, you name the event and she is there.
Apart from the goodwill gesture shown towards Jade Goody, her last impactful action was buying a 11.7% stake in the IPL team of Rajasthan Royals, in partnership with her boyfriend/fiance Raj Kundra; following the footsteps of Preity Zinta.
Shilpa started her film career with a bang. Her first movie Baazigar hit the silver-screen in 1993, which starred SRK and Kajol was a superhit and her song Kitaabein Bahut Si Padhi Hongi Tumne and Aye Mere Humsafar was quite a rage. Though her acting was nothing to talk about, as the movie gained popularity due to SRK’s anti-hero portrayal, she gained a lot from it. Her next big hit was Main Khiladi Tu Anadi which released in 1994 and had Akshay Kumar and Saif Ali Khan. She played a dual role in the movie, and the song Churake Dil Mera became an instant hit.
After this she lost her track, got romantically involved with Akshay Kumar. Stardust magazine had printed a story about her alleged affair with the actor and was quite disparaging. Shilpa sued the magazine claiming that it had caused her immense loss in terms of movie offers and the ensuing finances, as well as mental strain and emotional drain-out. She won the lawsuit in 2000, successfully.
Around the same time, she did a quick belly-jig item number Dilwalo Ke Dil Ka Karaar Lootne, Mai Aayi Hoon UP Bihar Lootne in the movie Shool. This was a sort of comeback vehicle for Shilpa as she was almost forgotten by the public. She then signed on Dhadkan with Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty, directed by Dharmesh Darshan. This movie was a re-launch for her career and gave her a new lease of life. The songs of the movie did well, and the hype around the movie helped it at the box-office. Shilpa Shetty was back in all her designer wears and wedding collection garments, but her acting was really-really bad. All she did throughout the movie was sulk.
I don’t think this is worth mentioning, but becasue she was nominated by Filmfare for Best Supporting Actress in the movie Rishtey, I am writing about it. This forgettable movie released in 2002, and starred Anil Kapoor and Karishma Kapoor. Shilpa Shetty played a fisherwoman Vaijanti, and it was over the top acting, total ham-scam. She later went on to do a few Kannada and Telugu movies.
When she stopped mattering to Bollywood, out of the blue came a case of her familial linkage to the underworld. In brief, she had signed a 3 crore deal with Praful sarees and she was reportedly paid just 50 lakhs. So, she allegedly used underworld links for extortion of the remaining amount and threatening the owners of Praful sarees. Mumbai police even arrested her father on such accounts and that case is pending in the court.
After her brief disappearance and few more trashy movies, came Phir Milenge, in 2004. The movie had Salman Khan and Abhishek Bachchan, and was a rehash of Philadelphia. The movie wasn’t all that good, but AIDS awareness was the in-thing back then, and this movie rode on the waves and did decent business. But, as far as acting was concerned, she came a cropper. All the glycerin shown through, and it was kind of horror show because she had no make-up on; that itself made her thinner by 2kg.
In 2005 came Dus, where she played the Indian version of Lara Croft, with all those body-suits and fight stunts. When she made an appearance in Big Brother, she called herself the Angelina Jolie of India; wonder what gets into the heads of these celebrities, they just start flying. Anyways, in the same year, 2005, came Fareb, with her younger sister Shamita Shetty and Manoj Bajpai. Another painful watch, I kept wondering how Manoj must’ve handled the torture.
Then came the year of reckoning for Shilpa Shetty, 2007 was the year that entrenched her in people’s mind forever. She appeared in the celebrity edition of Big Brother and from then on, she has not stopped making headlines. I am still wondering as to who proposed her name for the show to be held in UK. Not many in UK would have known her, she was not among the best or top actresses in Bollywood and yet she was invited to Big Brother. Pure luck, fate, destiny, what else?
Anyways, she made it to Big Brother but she was unconvincing. Finally, the moment had arrived, the racial slur against her, which turned the tables in her favour. The racial abuse caused a nation-wide stir and became a part of prime-time reporting. An unknown Indian actress was suddenly occupying tv-space, web-space, space in print-media, and she gained popularity. The tv channel, Channel4, started receiving complains and protests demanding an apology, and in no time the votes in her favor kept piling on. She eventually won the reality show, and it was like a moral victory for all Indians.
Barely had she regained composure that Richard Gere took her breath away, literally. Shilpa Shetty and Richard Gere were on a AIDS awareness campaign, thanks to her involvement in Phir Milenge, and Gere was merely demonstrating that AIDS does not spread by kissing. He casually took Shilpa in his arms and planted a kiss on her cheeks. That was enough for the moral brigade to raise a furor and seek apologies from her. Shilpa may have forgotten the kiss, but she would definitely remember the protests against her. This was not her first brush with the self appointed custodians of culture. In 2006, she was summoned by a court in Chennai over a PIL filed against her for posing indecently. She and Reema Sen had posed for a photo-session in navel-revealing costumes and that irked the conservative narrow-minded culture-vultures.
Back to 2007, her movie Life-In A Metro released and it was received very well by the audience. Her demure portrayal as a housewife who is wronged by her chauvinist husband, played by Kaykay, got her some rave reviews. And in the same year she was signed up by Vijay Mallya to become the brand ambassador for Romanov.
Still riding on the success of Big Brother, she was made the host of the 2nd edition of Big Boss to be telecast on Indian screen in 2008. As usual, she looked glamorous, but was pathetic at hosting the show. She had limited Hindi diction and whatever she spoke in English too, was totally depending on the teleprompter, there was no spontaneity unlike Arshad Warsi who had hosted it so well in the previous edition.
Shilpa’s last screen appearance was in the Shut Up And Bounce song of Dostana, sandwiched between Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham. Prior to this she featured in a Yoga video too.
Its 2009, she has just stepped into the IPL scene and I am not sure what we can expect from her. But whatever maybe the case, she will be the focus of every event she attends, she will be in spotlight and she will continue to be a media-savvy person, she will continue to appear glamorous and somehow make it to all the headlines, cover-photos of magazines and to the guest-list of all the events and parties. Tum Dil Ki Dhadkan Mei Rehto Ho Rehto Ho …
This post was first published on PFC