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November 27, 2000


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Shilpa Shetty Yes, Shilpa Shettyhas arrived.

And not a minute too soon.

A seven-year stint in the film industry has seen her through more downs than ups.

But Shilpa has refused to be beaten. She has bounced back in a different avataar in each of her films.

Now, post-Dhadkan, Shilpa promises Runima Borah Tandon,"Every film of mine from now on will bring me praise."

Tall claim? Well, it's hers to know and you to decide!

How have you grown as an actress after Dhadkan?

That is a question only my audience can answer.

As for my career, I have been getting roles with a lot of scope to perform. There is a lot of variety in the roles I'm doing now.

I am also getting a lot of positive feedback, which is a good feeling.

That is something I have been working on for a very long time. I have been in the film industry for seven years. And I'm only now getting what I should have a long time ago.

It feels good. Better late than never, I say!

Shilpa Shetty But I can tell you one thing: Every film of mine from now on will get me praise as an actress. I am very positive about that. You see, the films I am now choosing are very different from the ones I used to earlier.

Where do you see your career heading now?

In the right direction, I think!

There's Bobby Kent's film with Salman (Khan). There's a (Satish) Kaushik and (Anil) Kapoor Entertainment film called Badhai Ho Badhai, opposite Anil Kapoor, being directed by Satish Kaushik.

I'm working on the Sunny Deol home production Indian, being directed by Maharajan. There's Junoon opposite Chandrachur (Singh).

Then there's a film being directed by Yashji's (Chopra) assistant, Abhi. Though the hero hasn't yet been finalised. It's a fun-filled family comedy.

So there is a lot of interesting work happening.

What kind of roles are you playing in these films?

In Bobby Kent's film, I play a very young and vulnerable model. She is very modern and falls in love with someone she thinks is very modern but only poses to be one before marriage.

He comes from a very orthodox family with very Indian values, whereas in my house it is just the opposite. We are very Western and we think we've come from London!

So it is a clash of two cultures and how things change after marriage. I think it is a beautiful subject. It is a very real film and something I would relate to.

Satishji's film has me playing a very vivacious and loud Punjabi girl. That again is something I haven't done before. Her character is a mix between a Punjabi and a Christian, and her name is Banto Betty *laughs*.

She is quite a character.

Shilpa Shetty In Indian, I play Sunny Deol's wife, a very emotional girl who loves her father very much. The film has a lot of action, but it is a family film, too.

What appealed to me was that this girl's character is very well-etched. She has two children, is very homely, and her world revolves around her husband.

Tell us more about your role in Junoon.

Well, it is very interesting.

I play an intelligent and spunky youngster who's the brain behind her father's political career. He is a minister.

She is very bold, open and honest about her feelings. She is very cool and a very today kind of girl. Doesn't care what the world thinks about her. At the same time she's a very passionate person.

I hope I haven't given out the story! But this is something I've never done before.

Is it true that you got burnt while shooting for Bobby Kent's film and that Salman Khan just kept on staring at you without helping you out?

What rubbish! Salman is not that kind of a man.

We were shooting a suhag raat scene and there were lights on the bed. I didn't realise that. We were supposed to go out of frame. That is when I fell on the lights, and got burnt.

It was only the next day that I realised that it was bad, and I had to get it treated. I still have the marks on my body.

But it was nothing serious, and I certainly don't think Salman should be blamed for that.

Salman is like a great buddy of mine. He is the kind of friend I have had for the last six years. I have done many shows with him.

I have worked with him and his brother Sohail before in Auzaar. I have worked with Arbaaz in Dhadkan before Sunil came in for the role.

Shilpa Shetty Salman is not a fair weather friend and is the kind of person I can totally rely on.

Which of your films will be released first?

Indian. We just have the songs and the climax. And it will be released in February 2001.

Bobby's film will be out sometime in June. As will Junoon. And Badhai Ho Badhai is slated for an August-September release.

What according to you are your strengths and weaknesses? Where do you feel you need to improve as an actress?

I think my strength is that, even after seven years, people see a different Shilpa with every film. That is something I have maintained all throughout. *laughs*

And people still want to work with me after being here so long time.

Recently, I went through a very low phase -- there was so much I wanted to do, but just didn't get the right chance.

Today I am happy I'm getting that opportunity to do so. And I'm quite content.

As for my weaknesses, I'm working on turning them around so that they become my forte.

What is your dream role? Is there a particular character you would like to play?

Until I after Dhadkan, I felt it was my dream role. But now, there are a few interesting roles like the in Salman's film.

Shilpa Shetty I thought after Dhadkan I would never get a role like that again. A heroine-oriented role, I thought, would be very difficult to get.

But people are offering me such amazing roles that I feel like a new heroine. It's really great. I feel I have rediscovered myself after Dhadkan.

You sister Shamita believes that you work very hard. What do you have to say to that?

Why, I'd say the same about her.

I have seen the way she works. You know, she used to be really thin and gawky.

When Adi (Aditya Chopra) signed her on, he gave her three months to put on weight. Look at her in Mohabbatein. She has the most toned body. You can't get that in three months.

I think she is very focused and hardworking.

Do you feel that Mohabbatein was the right launch vehicle for her?

To tell you the truth, Shamita didn't want a film career. She has a diploma in fashion designing.

But when Yashji offered her the film through Karan (Johar), Manish (Malhotra) and our friends, we thought she couldn't get a better launch film. Yashji is someone I always admired.

We knew that whatever the end product, it would be fabulous. So she might as well be part of a film in which she would be appreciated than work in a flop film.

As it turned out, it was the right move. Mohabbatein has turned out a winner.

Shamita has signed on for a few films, but I'd rather let her speak about them.

What kind of advice have you given her about her film career?

Well, she is a smart girl. I was the foolish one; I came from a non-filmi background. I learnt everything on my own. She has seen me go through all that.

We have told her only one thing, "You don't need to sign any films because you want to buy a car or a house." We have all that.

Shilpa Shetty It's not that I signed films because of that. It's just that in the beginning you don't know. You don't have anyone to give you the right advice.

Shamita can learn from my mistakes. That's the reason she is not on a signing spree.

Films are coming her way but she'd rather work on maybe two or three films a year and find job satisfaction as an artiste. That is essential.

I think job satisfaction is the key word.

Now that both of you are in films, who does your mother accompany to shoots?

You know, while I was shooting for Dhadkan, my mother had accompanied Shamita to London for the shooting of Mohabbatein.

It was so strange. For the first five days, I just kept crying at home. It was very depressing.

You know, she has always been Daddy's girl, and I've always spent time with mom. But for the first time, I realised how much my sister must have sacrificed for me. At her most vulnerable age, mom was with me. And she never complained.

That is when I began to appreciate all that she has done for me.

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