Shilpa Shirodkar, who starred in 1990s' hits like Kishen Kanhaiya, Hum, Aankhen, Khuda Gawah and Gopi Kishen, has made a comeback to the movies.
The actress plays a significant role in Guns Of Banaras.
Speaking from her home in Dubai, Shilpa tells Subhash K Jha, "After I got married in 2000, my husband and I had a long-distance marriage for five years. Finally, I moved to Dubai and was happy to be a wife and then a mother to our daughter. But I started missing work... not acting per se but just being at work. So I did a couple of television serials."
Guns Of Banaras came her way from Rakesh (Rikku) Nath, whose son Karan Nath was being re-launched.
Madhuri Dixit's former secretary Rikku Rakesh Nath was instrumental in shaping Shilpa's career as well.
"I got in touch with Rikkuji and told him it was only fair that I should be a part of this film as his son was starring in it, 'Yeh toh ghar ki baat hui,' he said. He told me about the role and I liked it. I said yes immediately. Shooting with the director Shekhar Suri and the rest of the team was like a picnic," exults Shilpa.
She is open to other acting offers now.
"There's so much happening in our cinema now; things have changed so much since I worked there," she says. "Everybody is more professional now. In the 1990s, I would be doing two shifts and running from one studio to another. Everything was haphazard. Now, everyone know his or her job. It's a pleasure to be part of the industry again. For an actor my age, there are so many kinds of roles on offer. I'm not looking at playing the conventional romantic lead at this stage of my career."
Shilpa's 10-year career as a leading lady has left her feeling grateful for the experience.
"I think I'm the only actress of my generation, who got to work with Dev Anand saab in Return Of Jewel Thief and Dilip Kumar saab in Kalinga. Kalinga never released but I did get to work with the greatest actor of our cinema. I went to meet Raj Kapoor saab with my mother at his farm for a possible lead in Henna. He looked at me and said, 'I wish I had met you when I was casting for Bobby.' I didn't work with Raj saab but what he said has remained with me."
Does Shilpa's daughter show any inclination to be an actor?
"At the moment, she has other interests. But you never know. Acting is in her genes," says Shilpa, whose older sister Namrata Shirodkar, mother Gangu Bai and their grandmother Meenakshi Shirodkar were actresses.
Incidentally, it is widely believed that Shilpa is older than Namrata, when it's the opposite.
"That's because I did everything before Namrata. I joined films before her, I married before and became a mother first," says Shilpa.
The two sisters remain very close.
"We became even closer after we lost our parents. I make it a point to be in India for every release of my brother-in-law, Mahesh Babu," says Shilpa proudly.
Photographs: Kind courtesy Shilpa Shirodkar/Instagram