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Shilpa Shetty Biography – an Indian Actress and a Fitness Trainer

Shilpa Shetty Biography
Quick Info→
Real Name: Shilpa Shetty Kundra
Profession: Indian actress
Birthplace: Mangalore, Karnataka, India
Spouse: Raj Kundra
Age: 47

Shilpa Shetty Kundra (born Ashwini Shetty; Née Shetty; 8 June 1975) is an Indian actress who works mainly in Hindi and Telugu-language films. Shetty made her screen debut in the thriller Baazigar (1993) which garnered her nominations for two Filmfare Awards, after which she played a dual role in the action comedy Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994).

Shetty’s career saw a resurgence as a lead actress by the turn of the millennium with the romantic drama Dhadkan (2000), marking a turning point in her career. This was followed by roles in Indian (2001) and Rishtey (2002), which earned her praise and another Filmfare nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the latter. Shetty received critical acclaim for playing a career woman suffering from AIDS in the social drama Phir Milenge (2004), which received a nomination for the Filmfare Award for Best Actress. She subsequently appeared in successful films such as the action thriller Dus (2005), and the ensemble drama Life in a… Metro (2007), for which she received critical praise, and the sports drama Apne (2007). She was also noted for her dance performance in the song “Shut Up & Bounce” from the romantic comedy Dostana (2008). Following this, she took a break from acting in films

In 2006, she ventured into reality television by judging the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. In early 2007, Shetty joined the fifth season of the UK reality show Celebrity Big Brother. During her stay in the house, Shetty received much international media coverage and attention for the racism she faced from her fellow contestants and for ultimately winning the show. This was followed by her hosting the second season of the reality show Bigg Boss. Shetty has since taken on the role of judge on several Indian dance reality shows such as Zara Nachke Dikha (2010), Nach Baliye (2012–20), and Super Dancer (2016–present).

Shilpa Shetty Biography
Shilpa Shetty Biography

In addition to acting in films, Shetty is a celebrity endorser for brands and products and is vocal about issues such as feminism and animal rights. Shetty has worked with PETA since 2006 as part of an advertising campaign against the use of wild animals in circuses. She is also a fitness enthusiast and she launched her own Yoga DVD in 2015. She is involved in several fitness campaigns such as the Fit India Movement, launched by the Government of India. Shetty was awarded the Champions of Change Award for her work on the Swachh Bharat Mission cleanliness campaign. From 2009 to 2015, she was a part-owner of the Indian Premier League team Rajasthan Royals.

Shilpa Shetty Biography
Ashwini Shetty

8 June 1975 (age 47)

Mangalore, Karnataka, India
  • Actress
  • model
  • fitness trainer
Years active 1993–present
Raj Kundra (m. 2009)
Children 2
Relatives Shamita Shetty (sister)

Early life (Shilpa Shetty Biography)

Shetty was born in Mangaluru, Karnataka in a Tulu-speaking Bunt family. Her mother Sunanda and her late father Surendra Shetty were both manufacturers of tamper-proof water caps in the pharmaceutical industry. She is Shamita Shetty‘s elder sister. Shetty revealed her Bengali ancestry in 2016, during a visit to a fashion show in Dhaka, where she also mentioned her future plans on visiting her ancestral homestead in Sylhet and acting in a Bangladeshi film.

Shetty was educated at St. Anthony’s Girls High School, Chembur, and at Podar College in Matunga. A trained Bharatanatyam dancer, she was the captain of the volleyball team at her school.

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.

Acting career (Shilpa Shetty Biography)

1993–1994: Debut and early roles

In September 1992, Shetty signed for and began working on her first film – the romantic drama Gaata Rahe Mera Dil – to be directed by Dilip Naik 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 by the Hollywood film A Kiss Before Dying (1956), 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. Both the film as well as Shetty’s performance received critical appreciation; Shetty received nominations for Best Supporting Actress and Lux New Face of the Year (now known as Best Female Debut) at the annual Filmfare Awards ceremony.

Shilpa Shetty Biography
Shilpa Shetty Biography

1995–1999: Public recognition and widespread success

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 in the 1996 release of 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 for her performance in the film. In 1999, she appeared in the commercial success Jaanwar alongside Akshay Kumar and Karishma Kapoor.

2000–2007: Critical acclaim and commercial success

In 2000, Shetty received 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 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 for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress, in addition to nominations for Best Comedian as well.

2007 proved to be Shetty’s most successful year at the box office. Her first release, Life in a… Metro, received highly positive critical reviews and became the first Bollywood movie to premiere at Leicester Square, London. The film performed well at the box office and was declared a semi-hit within three weeks of release. 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 Shetty’s best to date”. Her second release, alongside three Deols (DharmendraSunny, and Bobby), the family drama Apne, was also a box-office success.

Shetty starred in the unreleased 2010 Indo-Chinese drama The Desire, a film rescued during production by her mother, who stepped in when its producer abandoned the project unfinished.

Comeback and recent work (2021–present)

Shetty’s only appearance on-screen during her break was in the 2014 film Dishkiyaoon, where she appeared in the song ‘Tu Mere Type Ka Nahi Hai’. She made her comeback to films after 14 years, with the 2021 film Hungama 2 which received widely negative reviews.

Shetty will next appear in Nikamma alongside Abhimanyu Dassani and Shirley Setia. She will also be seen as the lead in her next women-centric film Sukhee with Amit Sadh. Shetty will make her web debut with Rohit Shetty‘s series ‘Indian Police Force’, joining as the first female cop in his Cop universe. She will appear alongside Sidharth Malhotra.

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. According to reports, she participated in order to show solidarity with HIV-AIDS sufferers. According to Shetty, the issue was 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”.

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 in their lives, why not go for it?” In September 2006, alongside Farah Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shetty began the first season of the dance reality show Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa.

Since early 2016, she has been judging the dance reality show Super Dancer on the Sony Entertainment channel along with co-judges Geeta Kapoor and Anurag Basu. In 2017, The Indian government selected Shetty as a brand ambassador of the Swachh Bharat Mission, a campaign to improve sanitation throughout India. On 20 January 2020, she received the Champions of Change award for her work in that campaign.

In 2021, edible oils and food products company B.L. Agro Industries announced her as the brand ambassador for their food offerings brand Nourish under the categories of Pulses, Dry Fruits, and flour.

Obscenity charge (Shilpa Shetty Biography)

In April 2006, a Madurai court issued non-bailable warrants against Shetty and actress 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, hence the issuance of the warrants. 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.

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 them? 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 the artists, but he had refused her plea on the grounds that she should have filed a formal petition instead of writing a letter.

Target of racism

During her stay on Celebrity Big Brother 5, Shetty was the target of racism and bullying by some other housemates, chiefly Jade Goody, Jo O’Meara, and Danielle Lloyd. 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 referred to as a “dog” by Lloyd. Referring to Shetty, O’Meara generalized 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, which had given O’Meara diarrhea. Lloyd also mentioned that she disliked Shetty touching her food because she did not “know where her hands have been”.

After Shetty had attempted to dispose of the left-over chicken soup down the toilet and had caused a blockage, housemate 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, Goody referred to her as “Shilpa Fuckawallah”, “Shilpa Daroopa”, 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 said she should “fuck off home”.

The screening of the racial comments on UK television resulted in national and international media coverage, responses from the UK and Indian governments, and the show’s suspension during the 2008 season. Many agencies and corporations canceled their contracts with housemates accused of racism, citing the allegations as the reason for the terminations. Also, many sponsors of the Big Brother series canceled or suspended 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.

Richard Gere kissing incident

On 15 April 2007, the American actor Richard Gere hugged and kissed Shetty repeatedly on the cheek during an AIDS-awareness event. In response, a number of protesters, including members of the Hindu nationalist political party Shiv Sena, beat burning the effigies of Gere with sticks. The protests occurred in a variety of cities, including Varanasi, Bhopal, Kanpur, Indore, Delhi, and Mumbai. Others set fire to glamour shots of Shetty. Some groups 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”.

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.” On 26 April 2007, an Indian court in Rajasthan issued a warrant for Shetty and Gere’s arrest. A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India subsequently dismissed the suit and suspended the arrest warrants. While the charge against Gere was dropped soon after the incident, the charge against Shetty was not formally dismissed until January 2022. Gere has since expressed regret for causing any offense and Shetty has said: “so much has been blown out of proportion”.

Personal life (Shilpa Shetty Biography)

Having worked with Akshay Kumar in Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994), Shetty began dating him on the set of Insaaf (1997), the latter having just broken up with actress Raveena Tandon. Shetty spoke openly about her relationship with Kumar. The Indian media speculated that she had gotten engaged, and reported that Kumar wanted Shetty to quit films and settle down. Shetty had stated, however, that she had no plans to marry. The couple broke up in 2000 whilst filming Dhadkan.

In February 2009, Shetty got engaged to Raj Kundra, with whom she was co-owner of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket team Rajasthan Royals. The two married on 22 November 2009. Shetty gave birth to a son on 21 May 2012. The couple had a second child, a girl, on 15 February 2020 via surrogacy.

Shilpa_Shetty with Her Family
Shilpa Shetty with Her Family

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 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 the British television production company Twofour. The large number of commercial offers that Shilpa received after winning Celebrity Big Brother 5 themselves became a 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 modeled at the Wills Lifestyle India Fashion Week. Next on her agenda was a cookery book titled Soul Curry and the role of Sita in Uru Patel’s international venture Hanuman.

In early May 2019 the actress, who has long been the poster girl for fitness, launched a holistic wellness app, The Shilpa Shetty app, which features yoga routines, functional training, special regimes (for women who are pregnant, struggling with menstrual cramps and so on), and daily nutrition charts for each program. “I think lifestyle modifications are the need of the hour. There’s something for everyone on the app. You can do the workouts within the comfort of your home, without any equipment,” Shilpa says.

Awards and nominations (Shilpa Shetty Biography)

Major awards

Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards

The Apsara Film & Television Producers Guild Awards are presented by the Apsara Producers Guild to honor and recognize the excellence of their peers to recognize excellence in film and television.

Year Category For The Show Result
2008 Best Actress in a Leading Role Life in a… Metro Nominated

Bollywood Movie Awards

The Bollywood Movie Awards was an annual film award ceremony held in Long Island, New York, United States between 1999 and 2007 celebrating films and actors from the Bollywood film industry. Shetty won 1 award out of 4 nominations. She was the first-ever winner of the Bollywood Movie Award – Best Supporting Actress and received a nomination for the Bollywood Movie Award – Best Actress.

Year Category Film Result
1999 Best Supporting Actress Pardesi Babu Won
2003 Rishtey Nominated
Most Sensational Actress Nominated
2005 Best Actress Phir Milenge Nominated

Filmfare Awards (Shilpa Shetty Biography)

The Filmfare Awards are presented annually by The Times Group to honor both the artistic and technical excellence of professionals in the Hindi language film industry of India. Shetty received four nominations, one in the Lux New Face of the Year category, two in the Best Supporting Actress category, and one in the Best Actress category.

Year Category Film Result
1994 Best Female Debut Baazigar Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2003 Rishtey Nominated
2005 Best Actress Phir Milenge Nominated
Shilpa Shetty Biography
Shilpa Shetty Biography

Filmfare Awards South

Filmfare Awards South is the South Indian segment of the annual Filmfare Awards, presented by the Filmfare magazine of The Times Group to honor both artistic and technical excellence of professionals in Telugu cinema, Tamil cinema, Kannada cinema, and Malayalam cinema.

Year Category Film Result
1996 Best Actress – Telugu Sahasa Veerudu Sagara Kanya Nominated

IIFA Awards (Shilpa Shetty Biography)

The International Indian Film Academy Awards are presented annually by the International Indian Film Academy to honor both the artistic and technical excellence of professionals in Bollywood, the Hindi language film industry. Shetty has been nominated twice for the Best Actress Award.

Year Category Film Result
2001 Best Actress Dhadkan Nominated
2005 Phir Milenge Nominated
2007 IIFA Special Award for Global Impact Won

Indian Television Academy Awards

Year Category Television Result
2008 The GR8!Achiever Laurel Celebrity Big Brother 5Bigg Boss 2 Won

Star Screen Awards

The Star Screen Awards is the only award ceremony in India to be involved the Executive Director and the Governor of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. They are presented annually to honor professional excellence in the Hindi language film industry of India. Shetty has received two nominations, one in the Best Actress category and one in the Best Comedian category.

Year Category Film Result
2003 Best Comedian Rishtey Nominated
2005 Best Actress Phir Milenge Nominated

Zee Cine Awards

The Zee Cine Awards is an award ceremony for the Hindi film industry, now held abroad each year. Shetty has received a nomination in the Best Actor – Female category and won the Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Female award once.

Year Category Film Result
2005 Best Actor – Female Phir Milenge Nominated
2008 Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Female Life in a…Metro Won

Honors and recognitions

  • 2005: Indian “Diva of the Year” by SaharaOne Television viewers.
  • 2007: Silver Star Award for her outstanding contribution to humanitarian causes.
  • 2007: Rajiv Gandhi Award
  • 2007: Honorary Doctorate by University of Leeds
  • 2009: Shetty was among the 10 recipients of the IIFA-FICCI Frames Awards for the “Most Powerful Entertainers of the Decade”.

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