Shilpa Shetty discusses Hungama 2, returning to acting after a 14-year 'self-imposed sabbatical'

Shilpa Shetty discusses Hungama 2, returning to acting after a 14-year 'self-imposed sabbatical'

Shilpa Shetty discusses Hungama 2, returning to acting after a 14-year 'self-imposed sabbatical'

Shilpa Shetty returns to a full-fledged acting role in Hungama 2 14 years after Life in a...Metro. The follow-up to the 2003 hit sees the return of director Priyadarshan and actor Paresh Rawal, and has Shetty also recreating her iconic Main Khiladi Tu Anari number 'Chura ke Dil Mera'. “Actually I had said ‘yes’ to Nikamma (co-starring Abhimanyu Dassani and Shirley Setia) first. Sabbir Khan offered me a very good part. Then Ratanji (Jain of Venus, the film’s producer) came to me with Hungama 2. Now because he introduced me to films I couldn’t have said ‘no’ to him. I signed two films together,” says Shetty.

She furthers, “Also, Ratanji convinced me very smartly (laughs) saying that we are shooting 'Chura ke' again…Suddenly that artist inside me came alive and I told him, ‘You can’t shoot 'Chura Ke Dil Mera' with anyone else. Only I should be doing this song (Laughs). Priyan sir is directing after almost six years so for both of us it was a comeback of sorts. I always wanted to work with him in the ’90s but it never happened. Let’s just say the universe has conspired it to happen. I am elated that I am part of this hit franchise. Just to be in a film directed by Priyan sir and to have Pareshji (Rawal) in the same frame was another attraction. That’s a great combination. The plot and premise are totally different from the first one.”

Shetty’s probably the only actor to have done her own song after over 25 years. “I don’t know if I have matched up to the original but it isn’t looking bad. This song was a huge milestone in my career and it has a huge following. There was a lot of pressure recreating the 2.0 version and that too with a younger hero but thinking about the pressure Meezaan was going through my pressure was far less (laughs heartily), because he had to take the place of Akshay (Kumar) and that must have been very daunting for someone who is one-film old. The beauty of this song is that Priyan sir has made it situational; it just flows into the story. I am happy because we have touched nearly 11 million views,” says Shetty.

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The actress made her screen debut in the thriller Baazigar (1993) which garnered her two Filmfare Awards nominations, including one for Best Supporting Actress. She followed it up with a leading role in the successful action-comedy Main Khiladi Tu Anari (1994). Further, her career saw resurgence as a leading lady by the turn of the millennium with the romantic drama Dhadkan (2000), marking a turning point in her career but after a few more releases, including Life in…and Apne, the actress transitioned into television and got into other vocations. Now that she is back, does she regret the time away? “I have no regrets, it was a self-imposed sabbatical. The first seven years after my marriage I had decided I won’t do films. Then I got busy with television which is also a very powerful medium,” she says.

“Then I took up yoga with a vengeance and made my own app. I was always busy. It is not that I didn’t have work and I was thinking that I have to do a film. I did get interesting parts but not interesting enough to get out of my house. I transitioned and forayed into health and fitness because that is my passion. I feel that you stay relevant if you believe in what you are doing whether movies or any other vocation. You have to do something consistently and walk the talk and that worked because I am still in the public eye. Television and then social media opened up another playground for me. I enjoy it. Many actresses of my generation are not that consistent. For social media, you have to up the ante because you are catering to another generation. It is hard. But I have managed to carve a niche for myself,” Shetty adds.

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A few years back, in her interview, Shetty had said that she had refused films despite those being heroine-oriented, hard-hitting subjects as they were devoid of commercial value. “Some of those films were powerful but they were sad, depressing and preachy. Some didn’t have interesting parts even in a commercial film, whereas I am known for massy, glamourous, commercial films. I do believe that content is king but you don’t have to do depressing cinema, or go down the art route for that. Content has to be engaging in a hard-hitting story where the actor is playing a poignant part. There are too many factors that I take into consideration when I agree to do a film. I don’t like that kind of cinema because as an audience I don’t like to watch it. As an actor, I will be hugely gratified but I am a very practical person. I want to entertain people. Films are a getaway and when people see me on screen they should feel happy and they should be able to resonate with that character. Character is of paramount importance to me. Not that she has to be there in every frame crying and bawling and wanting an award,” says Shetty.

“Secondly,” Shetty candidly states, “It is not that I have been some great actor. My USP has always been looking glamorous and pleasing to the eye. I got some good songs and dance...but yes if I was given a good part I would sink my teeth into it. But I was not offered that great stuff because I was typecast, so I am really happy that I have given myself this self-imposed break to erase some of those old bad films from public memory (laughs). Now with this 2.0 version people will see a new Shilpa. “Now I have Hungama 2, Nikamma and then I have another film, in which I play the title role, and then a web series as well. I want to do selective work because my family will always come first,” she says.

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The actress may not have missed facing the camera as she has been shooting for television and brands but she did find a change in the filmmaking process. “When I went on the first day on Nikamma set because that one I started shooting first, it was scary, and Priyan’s film was shot in sync sound. Back in the day when I left we were still dubbing movies. I used to worry that now I cannot improve my performance. I can’t go back to dubbing theatre and dub. That was one of the major changes for me. Also, now everything is on paper. Those days we used to work without scripts, and dialogues were given at the last minute. Now actors are all well prepared, so there is less waste of time,” says Shetty. "Hungama 2 is a light frothy film; it is not a performance-oriented role. I wanted less pressure and I wanted to be part of a film that would be a hit and that is most important. I was very clear that people should enjoy seeing me back again. No actor is big, it is always the film and Priyan sir is an institution. He doesn’t like too much preparation, he just likes to go with a flow and be natural,” she adds.

Like many others, Shetty would have preferred theatrical release considering she is coming back after a long gap, “But given the situation digital is the best route. You can’t keep the film hanging for so long because it can become jaded. I look at things in a positive way. Now there will be more watchers and they can watch it at their own time. It is a comedy which I feel is the need of the hour. And there is no nervousness because now box office doesn’t matter,” she signs off.

Hungama 2 will be released on Disney + Hotstar on 23 July.