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Shilpa Shetty

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Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa Shetty on the sets of Nach Baliye 5 in March 2013
Born Shilpa Shetty
c.1975 (age 39–40)[1]
Chembur, Mumbai, India
Occupation Actress, model, producer, Entrepreneur
Years active 1993–present
Spouse(s) Raj Kundra (2009–present)[2]
Children Viaan Raj Kundra
Relatives Shamita Shetty (sister)

Shilpa Shetty (born c. 1975),[1] also known as Shilpa Shetty Kundra after her marriage, is an Indian film actress, producer and former model. The elder sister of actress Shamita Shetty, she appears predominantly in Bollywood films, however, has also worked in a few Telugu, Tamil and Kannada language films. Through her successful Bollywood career and after winning the international reality television series Celebrity Big Brother 5,[3] Shetty has become one of the most popular and high-profile celebrities in India. She is the recipient of numerous awards and nominations, including four Filmfare nominations.[4] In the Indian media, she is frequently cited as a sex symbol, and has received praise for her acting and dancing skills.[5]

Shetty began her career as a model in 1991 with a Limca television commercial and followed it with several other commercials and advertisements. She then began receiving offers for film roles and made her debut in the 1993 thriller Baazigar, a box-office hit that earned her Filmfare nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Lux New Face of the Year awards.[6] She subsequently earned widespread recognition by playing lead female roles in the 1994 box office hits Aag and Main Khiladi Tu Anari. Following this initial success in her career, Shetty starred in several unsuccessful films in which her brief, repetitive roles earned her negative reviews from film critics. The 2000 romantic drama Dhadkan marked a significant turning point in her career, earning her wide critical acclaim and best actress nominations at several award ceremonies.Her performances in the dramas Rishtey (2002) and Phir Milenge (2004) were appreciated, with her portrayal of an AIDS patient in the latter earning her several accolades, including a Filmfare Award for Best Actress nomination.[4][6]

In 2007, after participating in the British reality television series Celebrity Big Brother 5, Shetty was crowned as the winner with 63% of the final vote,[3] after an international racism controversy.[7][8] This was followed by re-establishment of her status in the film industry with two successful dramas Life in a... Metro and Apne,[9] both of which earned her critical appreciation. In addition to film acting, Shetty is also a social activist and is vocal about the issues such as feminism and animal abuse.[10][11] She featured as a celebrity host for the 2008 reality show Bigg Boss 2, and served as a talent judge for the reality shows Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (Season 1) and Nach Baliye (seasons 5 and 6). Since February 2009, she is the co-owner of the Indian Premier League cricket team Rajastan Royals. Shetty turned into a film producer with the 2014 action film Dishkiyaaoon.[12] She a son born in 2012.[13]

Early life and modelling career

Shetty was born in Chembur. Her father, Surendra and her mother, Sunanda are both manufacturers of tamper-proof water caps for the pharmaceutical industry. Sunanda produced one of Shilpa's films, the Indo-Chinese drama The Desire, which went unreleased. Her younger sister, Shamita Shetty is also a Bollywood actress. They worked together once in the film Fareb (2005). In Mumbai, Shetty attended St. Anthony Girls' High School in Chembur, and later attended Podar College in Matunga. A trained Bharatanatyam dancer, she was also into sports and was the captain of the volleyball team in schools. She has a black belt in karate and is currently a dancesport expert and enthusiast.[14]

In 1991, after completing her tenth grade examinations, Shetty began her career as a model with a Limca television commercial, and subsequently featured in several other commercials and advertisements, following which she began receiving offers for film roles. Shetty continued to pursue her career as a model, until she became an actress.[5]

Acting career


In September 1992, Shetty signed for and began working on her first film - the romantic drama Gaata Rahe Mera Dil[15] - which tells the story of a girl involved in a love triangle between two men (played by Ronit Roy and Rohit Roy). However, the film went unreleased, which meant that Shetty's debut release was her next film, Abbas-Mustan's thriller Baazigar, alongside Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. Inspired from the Hollywood film A Kiss Before Dying, the film featured Shetty in the supporting role of Seema Chopra, a girl who is murdered by her revenge-seeking boyfriend, played by Khan. Baazigar proved to be a major box-office hit and finished up as the fourth-highest grossing film of the year.[16] Both the film as well as Shetty's performance received critical appreciation; Shetty eventually received Best Supporting Actress and Lux New Face of the Year (now known as Best Female Debut) nominations at the annual Filmfare Awards ceremony.[4]

In 1994, Shetty had three film releases.[16] Her first release that year was the action drama Aag, in which she played her first leading role. Co-starring Govinda and Sonali Bendre, the film saw Shetty portray Bijli, a vellge belle who is actually a plainclothes policewoman assigned to arrest a murderer (played by Govinda) at any cost. Aag emerged as a moderate box-office success and fetched a mixed to positive critical reception, as did Shetty's performance. Shetty next starred alongside Akshay Kumar, Saif Ali Khan, Raageshwari and Shakti Kapoor in the action comedy Main Khiladi Tu Anari. In the film, Shetty played the dual roles of Mona (a cabaret dancer and a gangster's girlfriend) and her look-alike Basanti (a village belle). The film which marked Shetty's first of many collaborations with Kumar proved to be a super-hit at the box-office. Both the film as well as Shetty's performance received major critical acclaim; the success of Main Khiladi Tu Anari proved to be a breakthrough for Shetty. Her third and final release that year was the romantic drama Aao Pyaar Karen opposite Saif Ali Khan. The film which narrates the love story of a wealthy man and his maid (played by Khan and Shetty respectively) under-performed at the box-office.[16]


In 1995, Shetty starred in Hathkadi, where she was working alongside actors such as Saif Ali Khan, Govinda and Madhoo, but they failed at the box office. She made her Tamil film debut with the 1996 released Mr. Romeo alongside actors Prabhu Deva and Madhoo. The film was a sleeper musical hit at the box office. 1997 was one of her busiest years: she appeared in six different films, beginning with the Telugu language film Veedevadandi Babu. Her first major Bollywood film of that year was the action thriller Auzaar. Shilpa portrayed the character of Prathna Thakur alongside actors Salman Khan and Sanjay Kapoor. In 1998, she had one release, Pardesi Babu, for which she received critical acclaim and won the Bollywood Movie Award for Best Supporting Actress.


In 2000, Shetty received much acclaim for her role in Dhadkan which earned reasonable takings at the Indian box office.[9] She received several nominations under the Best Actress category in award ceremonies. She would later go on to star with Anil Kapoor and Karisma Kapoor in the film Rishtey (2002). Her comic performance as an eccentric fisherwoman was appreciated and she received a nomination under the Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award category and nominations for Best Comedian as well.[6]

2004 was a good year for Shetty with the release of Garv in which she portrayed a Muslim orphan and disillusioned table dancer starring opposite Salman Khan. According to Shetty, she chose to do the film because she liked the subject. The film was a cop drama.[17] She received much acclaim for her performance in Phir Milenge, where she made a sensitive portrayal of a successful city high-flyer who contracts HIV from unprotected sex and becomes a social outcast as a result. The film, based on 1993's Philadelphia, was perceived to have tackled a social taboo as yet unaddressed by Bollywood.[5] The film earned Shetty a Filmfare Best Actress nomination, and provided an impetus for her HIV-related charity work (see below). Film critic Taran Adarsh from indiaFM noted, "Phir Milenge belongs to Shilpa Shetty completely. She delivers, what can be rightly called, the performance of her career. The viewer feels and empathises with the character mainly because of her effective portrayal. She conveys the pain and the emotional upheaval through her expressive eyes, making it amongst the most memorable performances the year has seen so far."[18] This marked a break from the previous trend of superficial song-and-dance items in favour of roles which have a greater depth of character,[17] exemplified by her film Dus (2005), an action thriller. Although it received average returns at the box office,[19] Shetty stated that she had taken the role to reinvent herself by portraying the rather unconventional character of an anti-terrorist squad member.[17]

In 2005, Shetty starred opposite Upendra in the Kannada film Auto Shankar. The film was a major box office success and it earned her the name "The Gabbar Singh of the South" due to her villainous role in the film.[20] The same year, she starred with her sister in the film Fareb. Shilpa had one release in 2006, the much delayed Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar. The film was a box office flop, but she got good reviews for her role as a not entirely likeable wife.[21] In 2006, she was a judge alongside Farah Khan & Sanjay Leela Bhansali on Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa, a Sony Entertainment Television dance show based on the original UK show Strictly Come Dancing.

Shetty was once featured in Mani Ratnam's stage show, Netru, Indru, Naalai.

2007 proved to be Shetty's most successful year at the box office so far. Her first release, Life in a... Metro, won a significant reception and became the first Bollywood movie to premiere at Leicester Square.[22] The film performed well at the box office and was declared a semi-hit within three weeks. Additionally, the film was critically acclaimed and Shetty's performance was appreciated, with Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN writing, "It's a terrific performance and unquestionably Shilpa's best to date."[23] Her second release, alongside three Deols (Dharmendra, Sunny and Bobby), the drama Apne, was also a box office success.

Off-screen work

In February 2006, Shetty lent support to a BBC World Service Trust television show designed to tackle the problem of HIV-AIDS in India.[24] According to reports, she participated in order to show solidarity with HIV-AIDS sufferers.[24] Accrding to Shetty, the issue is particularly close to her heart as she had portrayed an HIV-positive sufferer in her 2004 film Phir Milenge. Speaking about the film and HIV in general, Shetty said: "Why not a film on HIV positive patients? It is a social stigma in our society. We made this film to highlight this problem ... This film will bring about a social awareness about AIDS in our country. It is high time we talked about this in our society".[17]

Shetty dressed as an abused tiger during the PETA campaign advertisement

In March 2006 various sources reported Shetty's joining PETA as part of an advertising campaign against the use of wild animals in circuses.[10] According to a PETA India press release, Shetty is a long-time PETA supporter and has assisted the campaign by posing for photographs in a figure-hugging tiger costume. She explained that her crouching in a cage was uncomfortable during the photoshoot, but that her discomfort was insignificant compared to the pain suffered by the creatures. "These once dignified animals only leave their cages, which are barely larger than the size of their bodies, for a few minutes each day to be forced into the ring to perform tricks which make no sense and are upsetting to them. The best way to help animals suffering in circuses is to boycott the circus".[11] Shetty revealed in a later interview that she felt strongly about this cause and that she was appalled to hear of the cruel treatment suffered by such animals. "I thought I should stop that. If I can make a little difference to their lives, why not go for it?"[17]

In September 2006, alongside Farah Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shetty began dating the first season of the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. In January 2007, Shetty was a contestant on and the subsequent winner of the British reality television series Celebrity Big Brother 5.[25] She was the first Indian celebrity included in the show. Reportedly paid Rs.31.5 m (£367,500 GBP) for her participation,[26] she said to presenter Davina McCall, "I just want every Indian to be extremely proud that I'm in here".[27] As for her participation, she stated: "I have zero expectations. The only thing I really hope to keep is my self-respect and my dignity."[28] Her sister Shamita told The Times of India that this "is the boldest decision Shilpa has taken so far."[29] During her stay on the show, Shetty instructed fellow housemates Carole Malone and Ken Russell in meditation,[30] and flirted with Dirk Benedict[31] but tempers started to fray by Day 7 as a clique formed in the house disapproving of Shilpa's presence.[32][33] Following a worldwide controversy that publicised her as a target of racist bullying within the house, Shetty won the contest after gaining 63% of the public vote and described the experience as "incredible and overwhelming". She further thanked the public for "a fantastic opportunity to make my country proud".[34]

Shetty on the set of Nach Baliye 5 as judge

In August 2008, Shetty began hosting the second season of the reality television series Bigg Boss, the Indian version of the international reality television series Big Brother. Controversially, one of the housemates was Jade Goody, Shetty's Celebrity Big Brother 5 co-contestant, with whom she was involved in the racism controversy. Goody left the series early after receiving news that she had cervical cancer, of which she later died on 22 March 2009. In February 2009, Shetty and Raj Kundra became part owners of the Indian Premier League franchise cricket team Rajasthan Royals by paying approximately US $15.4 million for an 11.7% stake. Alongside Sajid Khan and Terrence Lewis, Shetty featured as a talent judge for the dance reality show Nach Baliye (seasons 5, 6 and Shriman v/s Shrimati), from 2012 to 2014.

In March 2014, Shetty began hosting the reality television show Soney Ka Dil, which she also co-produced along with Kundra. The show format is based on featuring ordinary people who have contributed their extraordinary help to others in need.[35] The same year, Shetty turned into a film producer with the action film Dishkiyaaoon, a box-office flop. The film stars actors Sunny Deol and Harman Baweja.[12] For the film's promotional activity, Shetty appeared as a guest on the Colors TV comedy show Comedy Nights With Kapil. Shetty also co-owns the Indian chain of spas and salon called Iosis.[36]


Obscenity charges

In April 2006, a Madurai court issued non-bailable warrants against Shetty and actress Reemma Sen for "posing in an obscene manner" in photographs published by a Tamil newspaper.[37] The report stated that the two actresses had failed to comply with earlier summons for the same reason, hence the issuance of the warrants.[37] The petitioner submitted that the paper had published "very sexy and medium blow-ups" in its December 2005 and January 2006 issues, and alleged that these violated the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986, Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act 1956, and the Indian Penal Code Section 292 (Sale of Obscene Books). The petitioner further demanded that the images be confiscated under the terms of the Press and Registration of Book Act 1867.[37]

Shetty responded that she had not received any court summons and also discounted the charges. She further claimed that the pictures were freeze-frame shots from a recent movie that only exposed her navel. "As far as my photographs go, what is obscene about it? If navel-showing is obscenity, then our traditional Indian outfit – the traditional sari – should be banned in the first place."[38]

In January 2007 outgoing Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal confirmed that Shetty had written to him requesting that he enunciate guidelines against frivolous lawsuits against the artists, but he had refused her plea on the grounds that she should have filed a formal petition instead of writing a letter.[39]

Racism controversy

Shetty (left) and Jade Goody (right) arguing in the Celebrity Big Brother 5 house, 2007.

During her stay on Celebrity Big Brother 5, Shetty was the target of racism and bullying by other housemates, chiefly by Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd.[7] After correcting Goody's mother, who mispronounced Shetty's name as 'Shiwpa', Shetty was mocked for her Indian accent and was branded "The Indian" and was referred to as a "dog" by Lloyd. Referring to Shetty, O'Meara generalised that all Indians were thin because they were "sick all the time" as a result of undercooking their food, following their belief that Shetty had undercooked a chicken,[40] which gave O'Meara diarrhoea.[41] Lloyd also mentioned that she didn't like Shetty touching her food because she didn't "know where her hands have been".[42] Lloyd, O'Meara and Goody repeatedly maintained a belief that Shetty was "fake", and "a mole".[43]After Shetty attempted to dispose of the left-over chicken soup down the toilet and caused a blockage, housemate Jack Tweed suggested that she should pick the bones out with her teeth[41] and allegedly referred to her as a "fucking Paki",[44] although show producers denied this and stated that the word used was "cunt".[8][45] During a fierce argument, Goody told Shetty that she needed to "spend a day in the slums", although the media falsely reported this as "go back to the slums".[46] Claiming that she did not know Shilpa's surname, Goody referred to her as "Shilpa Fuckawallah", "Shilpa Daroopa", and "Shilpa Poppadom", later claiming that they were non-racist references to Indian food.[47][48] Lloyd had opined that Shetty's English-speaking skills were lacking and verbally indicated her desire that the latter should "fuck off home".[49]

Danielle Lloyd (left) and Shetty (right) at Life in a... Metro premiere at London's Leicester Square, 2007.

Shetty had been reduced to tears on several occasions, confiding to fellow housemate Ian Watkins: "I feel like I'm losing my dignity."[41] After the show, Goody stated that she understood her comments appeared as racist and apologized for any offence caused.[50] On 14 February 2007, Shetty said "Jade and Danielle did apologise. And I've forgiven them. Anyone, who knows me, knows I forgive and forget easily." On 17 February 2007, Shetty said that she wanted to forgive Jo O'Meara, but she and other Celebrity Big Brother contestants had difficulty contacting her.[51] After Goody apologised to Shetty for her behaviour, Tweed stated that he was very disappointed with Goody for apologizing, and called Shetty a "dick" after previously describing her as a "wanker". Shetty speculated that she might be a victim of racism,[52] but later retracted it by claiming: "People say things in anger."[47]  In May 2007, Lloyd attended the premiere of Shetty's film Life in a... Metro in London, in which the two were photographed together.

The screening of the racial comments on UK television resulted in national and international media coverage, responses from the UK and Indian governments,[53] and the show's suspension during the 2008 season.[54] Many agencies and corporations cancelled their contracts with the housemates accused of racism, citing the allegations as the reason for the terminations. Also, many sponsors of the Big Brother series cancelled[55] or suspended[56] their sponsorship of the show. After conducting an investigation, Ofcom ruled that Channel 4 had breached the Ofcom code of conduct, and statutory sanctions were placed on the network.[57]

Richard Gere kissing incident

On 15 April 2007, the American actor Richard Gere hugged and forcefully kissed Shetty on the cheek during an AIDS-awareness event.[58] The pair were appearing at a press conference in New Delhi as part of a campaign to preach safe sex to truck drivers in India and promote AIDS awareness.[59] In response, a number of protesters, including alleged members of the extremist Hindu group Shiv Sena, beat burning effigies of Gere with sticks.[60] The protests occurred in a variety of cities, including Varanasi, Bhopal, Kanpur, Indore, Delhi and Mumbai.[61] Others set fire to glamour shots of Shetty. Some groups demanded an apology from her and threatened to ban her movies in the state.[62] Shiv Sena leaders denied involvement in the protests, but Shiv Sena member of parliament Sanjay Raut observed that the protests are "just a manifestation of the anger of the general public" and that there was "nothing wrong with expressing contempt at such an act".[63]

Shetty responded to these protests by saying, "I understand this (kissing) is his (Gere's) culture, not ours. But this was not a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such a manner. I struggle to understand these people's sentiments, but mainly I do not want a foreigner to take bad memories from here."[61] On 26 April 2007, an Indian court in Rajasthan issued a warrant for Shetty and Gere's arrest.[64] A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India subsequently dismissed the suit and suspended the arrest warrants.[65] Gere has since expressed regret for causing any offence and Shetty has said, "so much has been blown out of proportion."[66]

Personal life

Although Shetty had previously worked with Akshay Kumar in Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), she began dating him on the sets of Insaaf (1997), when the latter had just split from the actress Raveena Tandon.[5] Shetty spoke openly about her relationship with Kumar. The Indian media speculated on an engagement, and reported that Kumar wanted Shetty to quit films and settle down, however, Shetty had stated that she had no plans to marry currently. The couple broke up in 2000 whilst filming Dhadkan;[9] Shetty cited "infidelity" and "indignity" on Kumar's part as the reason for their split. The media members reported that Kumar began dating actress Twinkle Khanna (Shetty's close friend), when he was in a relationship with Shetty. Shetty professed in an interview to feeling "angry" and "betrayed" for a long time, but "I was quiet earlier as i was waiting for the completion of the filming of Dhadkan, as I did not want my producers to suffer a loss just because of my personal life." Whenever asked in the media about his relationship with Shetty and the subsequent break-up, Kumar kept quiet and never admitted to the infidelity. In 2004, during the filming of Dus (2005), Shetty was strongly rumoured to be secretly dating the film's director Anubhav Sinha, who was married by the time. In an interview with 'The Times of India,' Shetty quashed rumours of a romance, while other tabloid reports claimed that Shetty was "in love."[67]

In February 2009, Shetty began dating businessman Raj Kundra, with whom she was the co-owner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team Rajsthan Royals. The two married on 22 November 2009.[68][69] The couple have a son born in 2012.[13]

In the media

In February 2007, Shetty attended a reception at the House of Commons by invitation of Keith Vaz MP to meet with then Prime Minister Tony Blair. She was also invited to meet with Queen Elizabeth II at Marlborough House in London in March 2007. During an interview on This Morning, Shetty confirmed that she had been asked to act in the British EastEnders soap opera, and turned it down as it would mean all her other arrangements would have to go on hold.[70]

She was the subject of a Sky One documentary entitled The Real Shilpa Shetty, which was produced by British television production company Twofour. The large number of commercial offers that Shilpa received after winning Celebrity Big Brother themselves became reason for controversy with an increasing number of accusations about her riding the 'racism' wave to commercial gain.[71] She was on the cover of the first issue of OK! Magazine to be sold in India.[72]

In early September 2007 she modelled at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week.[73] In October 2007, Shilpa starred in a musical titled Miss Bollywood.[74] On her agenda next is a cookery book titled Soul Curry and the role of Sita in Uru Patel's international venture Hanuman.[67]


Year Film Role Language Source
1993 Baazigar Seema Chopra Hindi
1994 Aag Bijli Hindi
1994 Main Khiladi Tu Anari Mona/Basanti Hindi
1994 Aao Pyaar Karen Chhaya Hindi
1995 Gambler Ritu Hindi
1995 Hathkadi Neha Hindi
1996 Mr. Romeo Shilpa Tamil
1996 Chhote Sarkar Seema Hindi
1996 Himmat Nisha Hindi
1996 Sahasa Veerudu Sagara Kanya Bangaru Telugu
1997 Prithvi Neha / Rashmi Hindi
1997 Insaaf Divya Hindi
1997 Zameer: The Awakening of a Soul Roma Khurana Hindi
1997 Auzaar Prathna Thakur Hindi
1997 Veedevadandi Babu Nandhana Telugu
1998 Pardesi Babu Chinni Malhotra Hindi
1998 Aakrosh Komal Hindi
1998 Preethsod Thappa Chandana (Chandu) Kannada
1999 Jaanwar Mamta Hindi
1999 Shool Special appearance Hindi
1999 Lal Baadshah Lawyer's daughter Hindi
2000 Azad Kanaka Mahalakshmi Telugu
2000 Dhadkan Anjali Hindi
2000 Tarkieb Preeti Sharma Hindi
2000 Kushi Macarena Tamil
2000 Jung Tara Hindi
2001 Indian Anjali Rajshekar Azad Hindi
2001 Bhalevadivi Basu Shilpa Telugu
2002 Karz Sapna Hindi
2002 Rishtey Vaijanti Hindi
2002 Hathyar Gauri Shivalkar Hindi
2002 Chor Machaaye Shor Kaajal Hindi
2002 Badhaai Ho Badhaai Radha/Banto Betty Hindi
2002 Junoon Hindi
2003 Ondagona Baa Belli Kannada
2003 Darna Mana Hai Gayathri Hindi
2004 Phir Milenge Tamanna Sahani Hindi
2004 Garv: Pride and Honour Jannat Hindi
2005 Dus Aditi Hindi
2005 Fareb Neha Hindi
2005 Khamosh: Khauff Ki Raat Sonia Hindi
2005 Auto Shankar Money Lender Kannada
2006 Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar Ahana Hindi
2007 Life in a... Metro Shikha Hindi
2007 Apne Simran Hindi
2007 Om Shanti Om Herself Hindi
2008 Dostana Hindi
2014 Dishkiyaoon Hindi

See also


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External links

Preceded by
Chantelle Houghton
Celebrity Big Brother UK winner
Series 5 (2007)
Succeeded by
Ulrika Jonsson