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`Dance, my USP'

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THE TRENDSETTER Shilpa Shetty
THE TRENDSETTER Shilpa Shetty

It's entertainment that counts, says Shilpa Shetty in a chat with NANDINI NAIR

The flash of cameras and a scurry of feet announce her arrival. At 5'10" and wearing 2-inch heels, Shilpa Shetty stands heads and shoulders above the crowd. More than a decade into Bollywood and the actor has lost none of her sparkle. Having cut down her appearances in movies, she says, "I am more quality conscious now." Fiddling with the chain around her long, dainty neck, she begins a series of quotes that border from the predictable to the interesting. Shilpa says that her latest movie "Shaadhi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar" is "a love story set in an urban milieu. It is a clean film. It is funny but not a complete comedy." Thank God, one would say. Haven't we had one laugh riot too many? And Shaadi is on how marriage is a work of effort and not luck.

Realism

Last year, she was one with the guys in Anubhav Sinha's Dus. Having also done Phir Milenge, a meaningful movie, she says, "I am trying to maintain a balance between the commercial and the realistic." She is quick to add that her choice of roles has been spontaneous and not planned. "It depends on what comes my way, I don't try to manipulate my career, otherwise boredom will set in." So has her fight against boredom landed a role for her opposite Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt? Tossing her mane, she says, "That's one rumour which I wish was true!" A little pause, and she gives the customary response that there indeed have been international proposals but nothing has been finalised. For the moment though, Shilpa is excited about the forthcoming Metro, a movie directed by Anurag Bose, in which she stars opposite Shiny Ahuja of Hazaron Kwahishein Aisi fame. Often the credit of introducing the term, "item number" to Hindi movies goes to Shilpa. Her sizzling number "Main Aai Hoon U.P. Bihar Lootne" in Shool is considered the original item number. She asks, "Who coined the term `item number', where does it come from?" She might claim ignorance about the origins but she is aware of her own pivotal role and adds, "I am not apologetic about being a trendsetter." Known more for her dancing than her emoting skills, she admits, "Dance is my USP." However, the actor says that she has been trying to do different roles. Movies such as Phir Milenge, where she played Tamanna, a successful girl who finds the world turn hostile when she discovers she is HIV positive, required her to display an array of emotions. That movie was proof of her aspiration, "I do not want to be typecast." And in the next breath, she states, "I am into entertaining." Contradiction? Maybe, but Shilpa isn't bothered. All her moves and gestures are naturally stylised for an audience and her comment is made evident in the poses and fixed smile. Entertaining she has done plenty of, from the 1994 hit Main Khiladi Tu Anari to 2005's Dus. She seems more accustomed to cameras than queries, often replying to questions with a practiced ease. Though sometimes it appears as if she is a tad surprised at all the attention, taken aback that people would want to know why she is wearing what she is wearing, who she is reading and who she is listening to. Not the one to lament about inequities, she feels, "The film industry is not male dominated any longer. It is an egalitarian world and I am happy with it."

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