Shilpa Shetty (Tulu: ಶಿಲ್ಪ ಶೆಟ್ಟಿ; born 8 June 1975) is an Indian film actress and model. Since making her debut in the film Baazigar (1993), she has appeared in nearly 40 Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada language films, her first leading role being in the 1994 Aag. Although she has been through years of decline during her career, Shetty has been willing to reinvent herself quite often. Her performances in Dhadkan (2000) and Rishtey (2002) were appreciated, while her portrayal of an AIDS patient in Phir Milenge (2004) won her many accolades. Her younger sister Shamita Shetty is also a Bollywood film actress
Shetty has been embroiled in various controversies including suspected Mafia links. In 2006 she was issued with a warrant on charges of obscenity. After taking part in the British Celebrity Big Brother TV show in 2007, Shetty was crowned the winner with 63% of the final vote, after an international racism controversy involving her and fellow contestants Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd. This was followed by a re-establishment of her status in the film industry in 2007 when she appeared in two successive movies, Life in a... Metro and Apne, with her performance in the former drawing positive reviews.
Shilpa Shetty was born in a traditional close-knit family in Mangalore that hails from the Bunt community.
She is the eldest daughter of Surendra and Sunanda Shetty, manufacturers of tamper-proof caps for the pharmaceutical industry,and her native language is Tulu although she speaks several other languages at differing levels, including English, Kannada, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil, Gujarati, Telugu, Urdu and basic French
In Mumbai, she attended St. Anthony Girls' High School in Chembur, and later attended Podar College in Matunga. A trained Bharatanatyam dancer, she is also into sports, was the captain of the volleyball team in school, has earned a black belt in Karate and is currently a dancesport expert and enthusiast
Shetty currently lives in Mumbai with her parents and younger sister Shamita Shetty, who is also a Bollywood actress. They worked together once in the film Fareb (2005). At 5 ft 10 inches (178 cm), Shilpa Shetty is among the tallest actresses in Bollywood. It was revealed on 29 March 2009, that Shilpa has recently purchased a house on Saint George's Hill in Surrey, England with her boyfriend Raj Kundra
Shetty started her career by modelling for Limca in 1991 at age 16, and made her film debut in 1993 with Baazigar, portraying a woman murdered by her psychopathic boyfriend. Shetty took the supporting role of Seema, co-starring alongside Shahrukh Khan and Kajol; the film was a major success and earned her a nomination for Filmfare Best Supporting Actress Award.
Her first leading role was in the film Aag in 1994, which was averagely received at the box office. She had a hit that same year with the film Main Khiladi Tu Anari opposite Akshay Kumar. This was followed by many films which were average to poor performers at the box office. Shetty starred in another big film that year, Aao Pyaar Karen, followed in 1995 by Hathkadi, where she was working alongside actors such as Saif Ali Khan, Govinda and Madhoo, but they failed at the box office. 1997 was one of her busiest years: she appeared in six different films, beginning with the small Telugu language film Veedeva Dani 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.She received several nominations under the Best Actress category in different 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 various nominations for Best Comedian as well.
2004 was also 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, and did not do well at the box office. However, 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 via 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. 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 empathizes 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."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, exemplified by her film Dus (2005), an action thriller. Although it received average returns at the box office, Shetty stated that she had taken the role in order to reinvent herself by portraying the rather unconventional character of an anti-terrorist squad member.She also starred with her sister ithe film Fareb in 2005. 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. In 2006, she was a judge on Jhalak Dikhlaja, 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. 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." Her second release, alongside three Deols, Dharmendra, Sunny and Bobby, the drama Apne, was also a box office success
Celebrity Big Brother 2007
Shetty was a contestant in and the winner of Celebrity Big Brother UK. and was the first Indian celebrity included in the Celebrity version. Reportedly paid Rs.31.5 m (£367,500 GBP) for her participation, she said to presenter Davina McCall, "I just want every Indian to be extremely proud that I'm in here". 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." Her sister Shamita told the Times of India that this "is the boldest decision Shilpa has taken hitherto."
During her time, Shetty instructed fellow housemates Carole Malone and Ken Russell in meditation,and flirted with Dirk Benedict but tempers started to fray by Day 7 as a clique formed in the house disapproving of Shilpa's presence.Following a worldwide controversy that publicised her as a target of racist bullying within the house (see below), 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".
Post Celebrity Big Brother
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.
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. She was on the cover of the first issue of OK! Magazine to be sold in India.
In early September 2007 she modelled at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week, which also displayed some famous Bollywood actresses including Lara Dutta and Celina Jaitley. As of October 2007, Shilpa will be seen in a musical titled Miss Bollywood. On her agenda next is a cookery book titled Soul Curry and the role of Sita in Uru Patel's international venture Hanuman.
In August 2008, Shetty began hosting the second season of Bigg Boss, the Indian version of Big Brother. Controversially, Jade Goody was one of the initial housemates. Goody left the Bigg Boss House early in the series after receiving news that she had cervical cancer, of which she later died on 22 March 2009.
Indian Premier League
In February 2009 Shilpa and her business partner Raj Kundra became part owners of the Indian Premier League franchise cricket team Rajasthan Royals by paying approximately US $15.4 million for a 11.7% stake
As well as modeling and acting, Shetty has associated herself with several other commercial and non-profit organizations.
In February 2006 Shetty lent support to a BBC World Service Trust television show designed to tackle the problem of HIV-AIDS in India. The project, which also involved other celebrities Vivek Oberoi, Dia Mirza, and Raveena Tandon in separate episodes, featured Shetty as she shadowed a young achiever whose work involved raising awareness about the condition. According to reports, she participated in order to show solidarity with HIV-AIDS sufferers.
The issue is particularly close to Shetty's heart as she had portrayed an HIV-positive sufferer in her 2004 movie Phir Milenge. Speaking about the movie 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".
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. 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".
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?
Shetty is a frequent subject of speculation regarding romance. However, she has remained tight-lipped whenever questions of marriage are posed to her. She previously dated Akshay Kumar, but the couple broke up in 2000 after he started dating Shetty's friend and fellow actress Twinkle Khanna after a previous indiscretion, which led to Shetty's successful suing of Stardust Magazine for publishing a "damaging" report about the affair.
In an interview for The Times of India, Shetty quashed rumours of a romance with film director Anubhav Sinha and claimed to have changed her mobile phone number in order to concentrate on her busy schedule.But in a later interview for The Sunday Mirror, a friend of Shetty said that she was "in love" with Sinha and that he was her "soulmate", but that she could not be with him for fear of parental disapproval, social stigma (Sinha is married with two children, although currently separated) and adverse public perception.
Alleged mafia links
In May 2003 a controversy erupted over alleged links between Shetty's parents and the Indian underworld. The Surat police issued arrest warrants against her parents on charges of extortion. The Police Commissioner of Surat, D.K. Gupta, told the media that the owners of Praful Sarees had lodged complaints with them after claiming to receive threatening telephone calls from Mumbai-based underworld figures asking for money on behalf of the Shettys. The dispute between the two parties related to a 1998 modelling assignment where Shilpa endorsed Praful Sarees and had only been paid Rs. 50 lakh (US$ 106,500) out of a contractually agreed Rs. 3 crore (US$ 639,000).Agarwal claimed that the full sum had been paid in advance, but he had no knowledge of how much had been paid to Shilpa.Surendra Shetty was refused bail by a Mumbai court although bail was granted to Sunanda, as she had been travelling abroad at the time the warrant was issued.
The police further claimed to possess a record of a telephone call between Shilpa's parents and Pankaj Agarwal, the owner of Praful Sarees. The parents denied this and claimed the tape had been "manipulated". Sunanda Shetty held a press conference on June 5 in which she denied that the family had underworld connections and said that the whole fracas was a "plot to tarnish the image of my daughter."She further said that she was "definitely innocent" of the charges and was falsely implicated by Agarwal after he had failed to fully reimburse Shilpa for her work.On June 13 it was reported that after interrogation by the police, Surendra had confessed to establishing contact with associates of Fazl-ur-Rehman, leader of the Mumbai gang.A contradictory story surfaced that although the Shettys' driver, Dilip Pashekar, admitted to introducing Surendra to Rehman's associates, Surendra continued to deny that any links were forged.A senior police official confirmed that Surendra had "vehemently denied" his links even though he and Pashekar were interrogated side by side. Shetty's lawyer later clarified that the reports of confessing to Mafia links were false.
Court hearings revealed that, despite Shetty's denials, print-outs of cellular phone records proved that contact between Shetty and the gang had taken place.On June 20 Surendra Shetty was formally arrested after surrendering to the police, later telling news reporters that the entire issue was designed to malign him and his family. When asked about the underworld's involvement, Shetty said "I do not know, I talked to them only after they called up and said they were agents of Agarwal." Further court hearings cast doubt on the veracity of the evidence tapes; Shetty's defence claimed that it was Agarwal who recorded the telephone calls rather than the police, and that the possibility of dubbing or manipulation could not be ruled out. Shilpa was quizzed by police upon her return to India from overseas filming assignments and denied all knowledge of any involvement between her parents and underworld figures, claiming that she had no knowledge of the case until it became public through the media. She further stated that her mother had power of attorney over her financial affairs and disclaimed any knowledge of payment for the Praful Sarees affair. Sunanda's bail hearing was adjourned three times on health grounds.
Another twist occurred when the Shettys' driver, Dilip Pashekhar, was arrested. On Nov 5 it was reported that Surendra and Sunanda Shetty, among three others, were chargesheeted, paving the way for a trial commencement in a local court. The trial is still pending. In August 2006 Sunanda said that Shilpa had no involvement with the case and that the arrest of Fazl-ur-Rehman earlier that month would not have a negative effect on her career. Shilpa has threatened to claim damages after an unnamed local tabloid allegedly printed incorrect information about the case. In an interview for Filmfare, she said that she was very "cut up" and "devastated" with the way the case had turned into a trial by media and that they had behaved "unethically". She also said that this was the worst controversy she had ever been through, and expressed her thanks to several film figures for standing by her, including Rajkumar Santoshi and Anil Kapoor.
In April 2006, a Madurai court issued non-bailable warrants against Shetty and Reema Sen for "posing in an obscene manner" in photographs published by a Tamil newspaper.] The report stated that the two actresses had failed to comply with earlier summonses for the same reason, hence the issuance of the warrants, The petitioner submitted that the paper had published "very sexy blow-ups 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.
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."
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 artists, but that he had refused her plea on the grounds that she should have filed a formal petition instead of writing a letter.
Celebrity Big Brother racism controversy
During her time on Celebrity Big Brother, Shetty was allegedly a target of racism and bullying by other housemates, chiefly by Jade Goody, Jo O'Meara and Danielle Lloyd,] After mocking the east London dialect of Jade Goody's mother, who mispronounced her name as 'Shiwpa', Shetty was mocked for her Indian accent and was branded "The Indian" and a "dog". Disparaging conversations took place among the other housemates about Indian eating habits, and Shetty's cooking was criticised for giving O'Meara diarrhea. After Shetty attempted to dispose of left-over chicken soup down the toilet and caused a blockage, Jack Tweed suggested that she should pick the bones out with her teeth and allegedly referred to her as a "fucking Paki", although show producers denied this and stated that the word used was "cunt". 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" Claiming that she did not know Shilpa's surname, Jade referred to her as "Shilpa Fuckawallah", "Shilpa Durupa", and "Shilpa Poppadom", later claiming that they were non-racist references to Indian food. Lloyd had opined that Shetty's English-speaking skills were lacking and verbally indicated her desire that Shetty would "fuck off home" Shetty had been reduced to tears on several occasions, confiding to fellow housemate Ian Watkins: "I feel like I'm losing my dignity."
Shetty speculated that she might be a victim of racism, but later retracted it by claiming: "People say things in anger." A record 40,000 complaints were received jointly by OFCOM and Channel 4 about the treatment of Shetty, 30 of which were formally investigated by Hertfordshire police
Carphone Warehouse suspended its sponsorship of the show and Louise Burfitt-Dons, the founder of the Act Against Bullying charity, branded Jade Goody's behaviour as "unforgivable". The controversy reached the British Parliament as an early day motion in the House of Commons was tabled. The row then escalated into an international diplomatic incident after a formal complaint from Indian Minister of State for External Affairs Anand Sharma lodged with then British PM Tony Blair that threatened to sour relations and damage trade between the two countries. In the city of Patna in Bihar, India, angry protestors marched in the streets and burned effigies in protest of the show, terming it 'Bigot Brother'.
During a parliamentary Prime Minister's Question Time session Blair responded that "We should oppose racism in all its forms." Gordon Brown, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was in India on a goodwill visit, condemned the controversy as "offensive" and the opposite of what Britain stood for: "I want Britain to be seen as a country of fairness and tolerance. Anything that detracts from that I condemn."In an official statement, Channel 4 denied that overt racial abuse or behaviour had been directed at Shetty, but acknowledged that a "cultural and class clash" was responsible for the disputes. After a thorough investigation, OFCOM made an unprecedented move and issued a ruling that Channel 4 were guilty of broadcasting potentially racist material, and required them to make multiple apologies on air during the next Big Brother season.
Richard Gere kissing incident
On 15 April 2007, Richard Gere kissed Shetty on the cheek several times in jest during an AIDS-awareness event. 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. The kiss, considered an attack on India's cultural and moral values, prompted protesters - alleged members of the extremist Hindu group Shiv Sena - to beat burning effigies of Gere with sticks. Others set fire to glamour shots of Shetty. People demanded an apology from her and threatened to ban her movies in the state.] 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"
Similar protests broke out in other cities, including Varanasi, Hinduism's holiest city, and the northern town of Meerut, where crowds of hundreds of thousands chanted "Down with Shilpa Shetty!" The STAR News office was also attacked. The protests did not take any violent turn and the situation was quickly brought under control, with some activists being detained
Shetty responded to these protests by saying, "I understand this (kissing) is his (Gere's) culture, not ours. But this was not such a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such a manner. I understand people's sentiments, but I do not want a foreigner to take bad memories from here."
On 26 April 2007, an Indian court in Rajasthan issued a warrant for Shetty and Gere's arrest.
The legal action against both Shetty and Gere has been suspended by the Indian Supreme Court until the court decides on the case's proper jurisdiction. Gere has since expressed regret for causing any offense and Shetty has said, "so much has been blown out of proportion"