People will see me in a different avatar: Shilpa Shetty

By Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, March 1 (IANS) After touring Europe with her musical "Miss Bollywood", Shilpa Shetty returns home to work in the Sunny Deol starrer "The Man" and says people are going to see her in a different avatar in the movie.

"I know what I'm worth. I never expected people back home to start pampering me just because I've got a certain standing in Britain. And I promise you - you'll see a different Shilpa in 'The Man'," Shilpa told IANS in an interview.

The last one year after "Celebrity Big Brother" has been a roller-coaster ride for Shilpa and she looks back at it with much happiness and affection.

"It has been a time of great experiences. 'Miss Bollywood' was my first experience on stage and also gave me a chance to take Bollywood abroad. It was not just lucrative but also a very creatively satisfying experience," she said.

She admits that she is dating someone, but marriage is not on the cards.

"The good thing is that love happened in my life while all those good things were happening to me professionally. So everything fell into place. I don't want too much speculation on this. The next thing I know they'll be marrying me off."

Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Did you miss Bollywood?

A: It has been a time of great experiences. In the last three months I've been taking my play "Miss Bollywood" to the remotest corners of Europe. This was my first experience on stage and also gave me a chance to take Bollywood abroad. It was not just lucrative but also a very creatively satisfying experience. And now I've come back to do Sunny Deol's home production, "The Man". I'm a huge fan of his work and admire him as a human being. I loved his first directorial venture, "Dillagi". Every time we're paired together we are a success. And I've got a fantastic role. I play an actress.

Q: How was the experience of doing "Miss Bollywood"?

A: With due respect to all the other Bollywood stage adaptations like Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Bollywood Dreams" and "Merchants Of Bollywood", they've all been fantastic, "Miss Bollywood" was a hardcore Bollywood musical starring a Bollywood actress. I belong to Bollywood. I think I added a certain authenticity to the play. It was a very proud achievement for me to take a slice of Bollywood out West. I felt especially proud to perform at the Royal Albert Hall.

Q: What were the most memorable experiences during the musical?

A: There were good and some bad. The worst was when my zipper tore in Offenbach (Germany) 20 seconds before I was to go on stage. I don't know how but my dresser managed to stitch it back in time. All through that act I was on tenterhooks. It was such a scary moment! This was the one time when I wanted a re-take. And I couldn't have it.

Q: And the good experiences?

A: Oh plenty! We got standing ovations in 95 percent of the performances. The last time we got a standing ovation was at Royal Albert Hall. It brought tears to my eyes. Gulshan Grover was there. I was so happy because he was so happy for me. He came backstage and said, "I can't believe you pulled it off." I felt so happy and proud to have one of my colleagues praising me.

Q: Do you feel welcome back home?

A: Of course, why not? I don't expect anything to change, except my price that has gone up (laughed). Everyone is making money. So why not me?

Q: Back home I don't see the kind of work you should be getting.

A: I don't really care. Or think about it. As long as I've enough work on my plate. When I was in Qatar women came up to me and said they absolutely loved my work in "Life In A Metro". It was a very subtle portrait. I'm very proud of my performance in "Metro". I know what I'm worth. I never expected people back home to start pampering me just because I've got a certain standing in Britain. And I promise you - you'll see a different Shilpa in "The Man". Look, in the past I did whatever came my way. I got some great roles like "Dhadkan", "Rishtey" and "Phir Milenge". I'm very happy as an actor. True I never received an award, but I was nominated. You can't win 'em all.

Q: The big development in your life is love. You've acknowledged Raj Kundra in the British press?

A: No I didn't! The British press asked me about my love life. And I said yes, I was dating someone. To that they added their own bits. Then the Indian press got wind of it. After having spoken openly about my personal life in the past, I'm not too comfortable discussing it. I'm not going to hide the fact that I'm in love. Maybe I'm just a little superstitious.

Q: How much difference has love made to your life?

A: The good thing is that it happened in my life while all those good things were happening to me professionally. So everything fell into place. I don't want too much speculation on this. The next thing I know they'll be marrying me off.

Q: So is marriage on the cards?

A: The day it is on the cards, I'll distribute them personally.

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