There has been a general surge in resentment over the millions of pounds Ms Shilpa Shetty stands to gain post her tabloid-conquering performance in London. There is also a general feeling that this is largely undeserved.
In order to convince the world in general, and Jade Goody in specific, about the histrionic skills of the goddess they call Sipla Poppadum, I thought there is an immediate need for a critical appreciation of her body of work. (More body than work, some might snigger uncharitably but remember, she is the one sitting on a pile of money, not them.)
So, here is a quick take on the Hindi films of Shilpa Shetty. I am told that she has an equally impressive list in Telugu as well, but alas, that remains inaccessible to me.
Baazigar – She started her film career with a fling. Over the parapet, that is. Her six-foot body and Kajol’s bushy eyebrows got lost in the manic villainy of SRK. The film picked up from where she died and it was a quiet debut – as Kajol took the meat of the film and SRK the publicity.
Aag – After the brief dalliance in a swimsuit in Baazigar, Shilpa flaunted her figure like a mad woman in this film. She was supposed to playing a village belle, but if village belles dressed and talked like her, then you would have had a million real-life Swades-es happening in India!
Main Khiladi Tu Anari – Long before SRK played the Don, Shilpa did it in this film. Dancer Mona (who is Shakti Kapoor’s moll) is killed atop a lighthouse, while Akshay Kumar looks on. Enter street dancer, Bijli (with a song that goes, “Khulla hain darwaza, saajan tu aaja aaajaa aaajaaa…”) – who is a look-alike of Mona. The dehati Bijli is trained into sophisticated Mona by film star Saif and she is sent back to Shakti to do a spying act. Complete with the memory loss, even! Mona ka intezaar…
Aao Pyaar Karen – Saif, in his pre Langda Tyagi (or for that matter, pre-metrosexual days) was this longhaired wimp who sang songs about his mehbooba ki roomal. It had the standard rich-boy-poor-girl-rich-girl formula, with Shilpa being the servant of the household and Somy Ali being the spoilt brat.
Hathkadi – This is the film of the classic song, which goes something like this: Annu Malik singing LML Baba LML, hone they baba LML, Let’s Make Love Bay-bay. (Yes, LML stands for Let’s Make Love!). And then, the Shilpa Shetty character retorting GTH Baba GTH, Go To Hell etc etc. Ah such poetry… Sahir Ludhaianvi would have died of envy!
Himmat – Sunny Deol, playing a secret agent with a whole lot of missile technology doing the rounds. Shilpa is a femme fatale trying to do Sunny in, till such time her zameer awakens and she turns out to be a desh ka sachcha sipahi as well. There may or may not have been another heroine.
Chhote Sarkar – Govinda, pretending to be Shilpa’s boyfriend, because her real one has died. Usual mistaken identity shit.
Mr. Romeo – No recollection. Could be the dubbed version of one of the Telugu hits.
Auzaar – Salman Khan and Sanjay Kapoor are college friends, who end up being a police officer and a mafia don respectively. Shilpa played Sanjay Kapoor’s wife.
Zameer: The Awakening of a Soul – For some inexplicable reason, Shilpa did two movies with Flop Guru Sanjay Kapoor – and that too, back to back! Both of them sank without a trace! The plot, you ask? Does the director himself know of it?
Prithvi – Sorry, no clue!
Gambler – Govinda is in the title role. He plays a corrupt cop who is diagnosed with a terminal disease. To make best use of the short time, he turns into this supercop and kills all the baddies in record time. And then of course, the doctor says that the reports had gotten mixed up so he is not dying after all! It also had the greatest song lyrics in the history of Indian cinema, sung by then-sensation Devang Patel, one line of which goes – “Mera daddu pehne diaper, chashme par unke wiper…” I sing this line even now as I am changing my son’s diapers! What did Shilpa do in this mess? Beats me!
Aakrosh – Copy of Kindergarten Cop, with Sunil Shetty doing the Arnie role and Shilpa the teacher. Had a hit song which went, “Hello hello bolke, tere aage peeche dolke…”
Pardesi Babu – Nobody saw this film. But everybody heard the hit song – "It Happens Only In India, Dhikichikidhikichiki…” – where Govinda rhymes bindiya with India.
Lal Baadshah – Shilpa’s first and last film with the Big B – which also had Manisha Koirala playing an insurance agent (of all things)! I remember Prem Chopra, Nirupa Roy, Mukesh Rishi, some of the other usual culprits – and Shilpa in an item number kind of song ("Koi hain dil lene wala, koi hain dil dene wala... I like your dance baby, dance baby..." sung by Sudesh Bhonsle), but I cannot – for the life of me – remember what her role was.
Shool – She came. She danced. She looted. Then the others came! In this angry film starring Manoj Bajpai (fighting Sayaji Shinde’s Bihari politician), Shilpa did the “Main aayi hoon UP Bihar lootne” item number and the Cow Belt was never the same again! Incidentally, Punjab Kesari (one of the leading Hindi newspapers of the day headlined Shilpa’s Big Brother victory with “UP Bihar ke baad London loota Shilpa ne”.
Tarkieb – Murder mystery? Political thriller? Business saga? Even Shilpa is not sure!
Jung – In Bengali, Jung means rust. My rusted memory cannot place this movie!
Dhadkan – Her biggest hit, which was a love triangle co-starring Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty. In a tangential reference to the myths, director Dharmesh Darshan likened the story to Ramayan, by saying Ravan loved Seeta as much as Ram, only his methods were dubious! Confused completely? Join the club! Some typical Nadeem-Sharavan hits, some Dharmesh Darshan melodrama and a decidedly over-the-top Sunil Shetty (hell-bent on getting the Best Villain awards) were the questionable ingredients of this hit. Shilpa was styled by Manish Malhotra for the first time and looked like a million dollars.
Indian – Sunny Deol, in yet another film, tries to (and probably succeeds!) pulverize the entire nation of Pakistan into mincemeat and make kakori kababs out of them. I am sure posters of this film still adorn dhaba walls in Punjab with Sunny-paaji garlanded! Shilpa is hidden behind the garlands.
Junoon – Not Shyam Benegal. Not Rahul Roy. Some other exercise in forgettability!
Badhaai Ho Badhaai – A film about some vague kind of family feud (oh no – not again!) in which a super-fat Anil Kapoor lands up to do the patch-up. Anil Kapoor’s fat act held curiosity only till the trailers and the film sank abominably. Shilpa had some Punjabi dialogues in this film… now, is that informative or is that informative? Some more trivia – the guy who did Eddie Murphy’s makeup in Nutty Professor worked in this film as well. What a waste of foreign exchange!
Hathyar – This is supposed to the sequel to Vaastav, and Shilpa is Sanjay Dutt’s wife. This Sanjay is the son of the Vaastav Sanjay Dutt. Unlike Vaastav, this film collapsed at the box office and the only memorable feature is Sanjay Dutt’s name – Boxer bhai. There was a tapori-style song also on the name.
Rishtey – Anil Kapoor and Karisma split after having a baby son, who gets to stay with the street-fighter (WWE style) father. Shilpa is the bombshell Marathan in the koli-style saree, who secretly loves Anil. Usual Indra Kumar potboiler with lots of cheap humour and clashing cymbals in every scene!
Karz – The only Karz I know is the one in which Monty Oberoi remembers his past life when a particular guitar riff is played!
Darna Mana Hai – Shilpa played a housewife in one of the episodes, which would also be the most tangential of the six! It was about a housewife around whom everyone starts turning into apples (after eating one)! Yes, you read that correctly. The climax of the story had Shilpa running down an empty street littered with apples! Kabhi kabhi Ramopal Verma bhi...
Chor Machaaye Shor – A Xerox copy of the Hollywood movie in which a thief hides his loot in a construction lot and goes to jail. When he returns to collect, there is a police station built there. Bobby Deol was the thief. First heroine Bipasha Basu in a tight police officer’s costume took away all the attention from Shilpa, who played the Police Commissioner’s Daughter. Made famous by Sridevi in Aakhri Raasta, this character makes repeated appearances in Hindi cinema as a comic-relief-providing bimbo, usually in love with the hero and generally screwing up investigative procedures.
Garv: Pride and Honour – Salman played a bombastic encounter cop – Arjun Ranawat – in this movie directed by Puneet Issar. Shilpa was a perfect eye-candy in between all the blood, gore and Salman kicking the CM! She flaunted her figure, sang songs in exotic locales and looked suitably stoic in the emotional scenes.
Phir Milenge – A remake of Philadelphia, with Shilpa playing the Tom Hanks character and Abhishek Bachchan the Denzel Washington one. Apparently, a sensitive film by Revathi, this belongs to that brand of cinema, which everybody praises, but nobody watches. Shilpa was nominated for Best Actress at the Filmfare awards. There is also Salman lurking somewhere in the vicinity but I am not sure where he stayed in Philadelphia!
Khamosh: Khauff Ki Raat – This was a murder movie with an ensemble cast, which had Shilpa playing a sort of a street-walker in fishnet stockings. But I am sure, she was doing it for her mother’s treatment and brother’s education. There was a lot of shrieking and screaming by her, as seen in the trailers. This was directed by Deepak Tijori, of all people!
Fareb – Her first (and hopefully, last!) film with sister Shamita Shetty, in which they both vie for the attentions of Manoj Bajpai. BUT FOR GOD’S SAKE – WHY? Abhishek, I understand. Hrithik, I understand. But why Manoj Bajpai? It is an infidelity drama, with Shilpa playing the wronged wife and Shamita the femme fatale. Or was it the other way round? Who cares – except Manoj Bajpai!
Dus – Shilpa ended the era of Hindi film heroines’ days of flying kisses with flying kicks as she played a Lara Croft kind of law enforcement officer – in tight black costumes and no-nonsense lines. Unfortunately, she got smothered by the plethora of stars around her – especially Abhishek Bachchan, who died spectacularly to hog all the limelight. Otherwise, her athletic fight scenes would have had a few clones!
Shaadi Karke Phas Gaya Yaar – Her most recent release, starring Salman, is a deep, sensitive portrayal of the resultant angst of a mismatched urban marriage. Holy crap – actually, this dinosaur of a movie was some 48 million years in the making and Salman’s hairstyle changes in almost every scene, each of which were shot about a year apart!
Apne – This is one of her forthcoming films, in which she is slated to share screen space with three Deols – Sunny, Bobby and Daddy. Abhay is presumably scared of the profusion of muscles in the film and has buzzed off. Wonder what Shilpa is going to do. But she is most likely to kiss the Deols goodbye and say hello to the Douglases from now on, so…
Metro – One more of her forthcoming releases, the producers of which are already salivating over the prospect of breaking KANK’s Great Britain box office records.
There. And remember, chicken curry rules!