Ten minutes into her introduction as Bindia Naik in Chak De India audiences knew she would be trouble. Her talent was so obvious and she managed to emerge a scene stealer even though she was sharing space with King Khan. BollySpice caught up with this powerhouse of talent, Shilpa Shukla. In this exclusive interview she speaks of movies, fame and delves even deeper into her philosophies on life!
Firstly, how did Chak De India come about for you? Did you audition or was it by recommendation?
Chak De India was a result of being at the right place at the right time. It was a very well crafted audition process.
You took a major risk by performing a role with grey shades in Chak De India. Although you were incredibly praised, are you finding it hard to break away from the Chak De image?
I would love to take such risks every second film. It was never a risk because I was going to be a part of a ground sweeping film! And though I enjoyed every bit of being Bindia, now I don’t seem to remember much about her. Yes, it was difficult at times but now I have lived a significant graph of my life, it’s exactly a year [since the release], and I am playing Rhea and Shelly in my forthcoming films…images change, images amaze!
Now this is possibly an obvious question, however, one we cannot resist asking…how was the experience of working with Shahrukh Khan?
It was an absolute pleasure! Mesmerizing at times. Quite a learning experience. Shahrukh is a subject of study. His energy, his aura, his nil star tantrums, his hard work…after being in the industry for 20 odd years. It’s inspiring! You can’t help but fall in love with this people’s prince.
In addition to Chak De, you also worked in a critically acclaimed film called Khamosh Paani. Do you think that opened a lot of doors for you?
To be honest, I was too amazed and smitten by this film [which was an] equally profound moment in [my] life. Yes, I feel it did open some hearts, I feel warmth when people talk about Khamosh Paani. When Shimit Amin (director of Chak De India) met me first for Chak De he said he loved this film. Being a part of path breaking films always opens doors. The right door will take time, that’s okay. It justifies the three years between Khamosh Paani and Chak De.
Was the transition difficult from such a film into a Yash Raj banner project?
Not really. Except for the romance you feel in being in a Yash Raj film…so even while I was playing hockey there, I stole my moments!
Can you ever see yourself doing the conventional Bollywood love story with the naach-gaana, elaborate costumes and all that?
Hmmmm…I don’t know…yes. I think I am dancing in my next film…but on a lower intensity! Haha.
We would love to see that! Now on a different tangent, tell us about the finances of being an actor waiting for their big breakthrough. What do you do to keep your head above water?
I think its intangible. It’s surely [because of] the passion and the purpose that the flame never dies and God has been kind enough to me. [I’ve] gone broke in this city couple of times, a day of vada pao, broke to the zilch and we smiled because we did it…romantic glorifications! So for finances, there is some magic wand I guess.
Post the success of Chak De has life changed in any way for you or has it remained the same?
Life never remains the same and I am glad. I cherish the smile of people who spot me at places. I feel kicked about the fact that I was nominated all over for this performance. It feels like an arrival.
It certainly was an arrival! What sort of roles are you open to now?
So many, just so many. I love to play complete life stories like Benazir Bhutto, a jazz dancer, a singer, etc. Life and times of “people” kind of movies, and at the same time, characters that take a part of me with them, it’s a feeling one always knows. And comedy, that’s quite a test, of course.
In the next few years what projects will your fans be seeing you in and what genres are you tackling?
I am trying some comedy guys. I said trying! So, a film called Mumbai Mast Kallander where I play Rhea, a make-over artist. It’s a situational comedy. Then there is a film called Season’s Greetings…it’s beautiful!
Now moving on from films, what is Shilpa Shukla like off the camera…what do you do predominantly when you’re not working?
Ummm…I paint sometimes, watch movies, day-dream, write at times, read when hooked, look in the mirror and catch up with friends and family.
You once said in a blog on PassionForCinema.com, “Some of us are like teabags whose true strength comes out when we’re put in hot water. So when problems beset you, just think of yourself as God’s favourite cup of tea.” Can you give us an example of when this quote has immortalized itself in your life?
I am an intensity freak! I love the fact that my life has made me live certain moments, deepest and the highest. God stays with me as a perpetual belief in myself. So, being God’s favourite cup of tea is quite a tiring deal but play on and you change the game.
That’s very deep! Lastly, Shilpa is there anything you’d like to say to all your fans here at Bollyspice?
So selfish, but guys, send me all your love and power. I so need it! And in return, I promise to give you one wonderful film each year. Amen! Watch out for me, with love.
Well Shilpa we here at Bollyspice will forever remain your loyal fans and will be always watching out for you.
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