Saturday, September 08, 2007

Shilpa - a book review

By Julie Aspinall
274 pages

Shilpa Shetty had been having a moderately successful career as a Bollywood actress for nearly 14 years – never getting the A list films that went to actresses such as Kajol, Rani, Karishma and other big stars – but still appearing in films the next level down and over her career she co-starred with nearly every top male lead at some point. Still, now in her early 30’s, the handwriting seemed to be on the wall that her years as a leading lady were numbered – even if she still received the informal accolade as having the best body in Bollywood. There was no reason for tears though as she had apparently piled up the money during her career (currently est. at 15 million Pounds) and having never married was still living with her well-to-do parents in their large Mumbai apartment. Then in a matter of a few weeks she became perhaps the most famous Bollywood actress outside of India.

Her agent convinced her to appear in a UK reality show called Big Brother for the not too shabby fee of 357,000 pounds (around $700,000). In this show a number of not quite celebrities anymore have to live in a house for a number of weeks totally cut off from the outside world and perform various tasks that either endear them to the watching audience or alienate them – in which case they are either voted out of the house or simply don’t get enough votes in the final showdown. You can also leave on your own volition which a number of this group did. The group had a wide diversity from film legend director Ken Russell to singers Leo Sayer and Jermaine Jackson to the A-Team’s Dirk Benedict to honestly a bunch of people who I have never heard of and have no desire to.

The show turned into an international pariah when a few of the lesser known women in the house turned on Shilpa and referred to her in ways that could be called racially and ethnically insensitive. Much of this went on out of Shilpa’s hearing but not of the viewers and as the weeks went by the outrage at what was being said grew enormously in the UK and in India – to the point where a number of British politicians had to apologize to India. None of this uproar was known to the inhabitants of the house, but eventually a vote off was declared between Shilpa and the main instigator, Jade, a low class wanker and it was seen as a referendum on what kind of country England had become – one with its traditions of tolerance intact or had it become a racially divisive nation where ignorance ruled. In the end Shilpa kicked her butt and the country sighed in relief. In fact, Shilpa ended up winning the whole thing and came out of the house to find herself famous and in great demand both in the UK and back home where she was being seen as a heroine and a staunch representative of Indian values. In truth, she does seem a bit of a stuck up snob who well might have rubbed many of us the wrong way if forced to live with her for weeks.

Faster than you can say Shipa Shetty shops for sea shells at the seashore 100 times this book was written and showed up on book shelves. It is the kind of book that you can find in drugstores – right between the latest from Stephen King and the latest diet fad. Written quickly and seemingly researched primarily with the aid of Google and from watching the tapes of the show (the first 135 pages are devoted to a headache inducing regurgitation of the details from the show) and the rest is basically a litany of quotes about or from Shilpa that the author got from either the internet or the infamous Indian gossip magazines. It is a truly horribly written mess that is so fawning and obsequious to Shilpa who can do no wrong that you might think it was written by Shilpa herself, but then you would think that it might actually have some insight to something. The book was a tedious chore to get through, but for your pleasure here are some of the pertinent facts of Shilpa’s life.

“born on 8 June 1975 in Karnataka, southern India, she was an attractive child right from the start”

“Four years later her younger sister, Shamita, was born, and the family’s happiness was complete”

Her mother is quoted as saying after a difficult birth that Shilpa “was here for a reason and that the Lord had a role for her to play on this earth”

A servant brings her breakfast in bed everyday but since she hates to be seen without make-up on she turns her face away until the servant is gone.

Shilpa has a black belt in karate.

She is 5’10 – one of the tallest actresses in Bollywood.

She first came to some attention for a soft drink “Limca” ad at 16.

“Shilpa in some ways harks back to a time when Britain was a more civilized place than it is today”

Her first film was Baazigar in 1993 with two other unknown actors who were never heard of again – Shahrukh and Kajol.

Shamita is also an actress.

She had a love affair with Akshay Kumar that ended badly for poor Shilpa.

Had a nose job.

Shilpa says that “love is an overrated emotion”. Also that she doesn’t believe in premarital sex – but that making love is o.k.

She is no longer necessarily looking for a mate of the same nationality – so put your running shoes on boys – remember that 15 million number and that’s real money – Pounds.

Her father was arrested for extortion but all charges were later dropped.

Her parents are named Sunanda and Surendra, her sister Shamita and if she had a pet I would guess its name would begin with a S.

Some fashion tips from Shilpa to help you gals get through your busy days:
“Wear big earrings but nothing on your neck. Pick one item of clothing that’s striking and keep everything else understated. Never follow trends. Always match your belt with your shoes and bag. Never do your face in public”.

Some of her better known films: Metro, Dus, Fareb (only film she has co-starred with her sister in), Phir Milenge (played an HIV patient), Dhadkan, Shool, Baazigar.

And now you don’t have to read the book – not that you were planning to anyway!

1 comment:

eliza bennet said...

Hahahahaaaaa, thank you for suffering in the name of informing the public. Very enjoyable read.