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An artiste set to dazzle

Shilpa Shinde is just two films old but wants to ride like a colossus over her contemporaries. Now, playing the role of "Aamrapali" on the small screen, she tells MADHUR TANKHA that she is pitting her hopes on this serial, which she believes will beher fast track to success.

A CONVERSATION with artiste Shilpa Shinde gives you the impression that here is a college girl who has indomitable spirits to come out triumphant even against insurmountable odds. Setting aside her city culture, this Mumbaikar is playing the role of Aamrapali, an exasperatingly good looking traditional dansuese of ancient times, who was the cynosure of all eyes in Vaishali of those days. Canned in 104 episodes, "Aamrapali" is a serial which has commenced from June 30th on Doordarshan and is being shown weekly.

Ever since "Ramayan" hit the small screen on DD in 1986, it opened the sluice gates to a flood of serials on mythologies. To bring serials chronicling historical figues like the Tiger of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, machiavellian Chanakya and great Maratha warrior, Chattrapati Shivaji, at par with mythical ones, Doordarshan is giving encouragement to the former.

Shinde, a student of psychology, some months ago was neither proficient in Bharatnatyam or had gift of the gab when it came to speaking fluent Hindi or Sanskrit. But after tedious selection process, which entailed scrutinising 200 aspirants to finally choose who could best play the pivotal role, Shilpa succeeded in impressing her interviewers.

Do you think Aamrapali was an icon of essential Indian womanhood? Says Shinde, " No. She isn't my role model. Although I admire her for her attitude, which bordered on arrogance. Then she had that rebellious streak inside her. Moreover, she was an enchantress." Watching films of Aamrapali and reading books like "Acharya Chatur Vaishali Ki Nagar Vadhu", have made her have vicarious thoughts of this breaktakingly beautiful dancer. She says this historical figure certainly inspires her to learn the crafts of an accomplished dancer.

Have you done any other acting? " I have acted in two Telugu films. Deshari Narain Rao's "Chhina" and Suresh Verma's "Shivani". But don't you think artists make transmogrification from the idiot box to the big screen while your career graph shows that you are doing the opposite? "I agree but I have made this decision after giving it a careful thought. This is a character, which many would have cut their right arm, to bag this role. She was born 2,500 years before Buddha and this serial will have glamour, dance and some scintillating performance by characters. It will show me play a twenty-something Aamrapali till she became old".

But when you were completely at sea when it came to performing Bharatnatyam and your fluency of Hindi and Sanskrit wasn't good enough to get this role, how did you get this role? A smile crosses her face and without getting embarrassed or offended, she says, " I got this role owing to my personality. Moreover, I am required to perform Puranic dance, which is a blend of Kathak and Bharatnatyam. Jayanti Mala, Sitara Devi's daughter, is my guru." Maybe, it has got to do with her drop dead gorgeous looks which director, Ravi Khemmu had in mind.

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