Shilpa Shetty Kundra will soon be seen on the big screen after a hiatus of 14 years in Nikamma. The Free Press Journal caught up with the actress for an exclusive chat. Excerpts:
How was it watching yourself on a big screen in Nikamma after a sabbatical of 14 years?
It felt so relieving. I had mixed feelings. There was no fear but a lot of excitement. Honestly, I got a little nervous too. I saw the rough cut while dubbing it, but I watched the final cut recently, and I didn’t let myself down. I believe that if I let myself down, I let my audience down. It’s going to be three decades for me in the industry. When I first saw myself in Baazigar on a big screen, I was excited but wasn’t nervous since I didn’t think of making acting my career.
What characteristics of Avni from Nikamma do you resonate with in real life?
It’s amazing to see simple and non-corrupt people in real life. Avni is a woman in power. All women in real life are superwomen, it’s just that we don’t wear capes. This character had so many facets that I loved playing all of them. There’s a part of me too in Avni, her family values and honesty.
Even after three decades, what is one thing you look for in the script?
Now I feel it is important to be relevant in the current times. When I joined the industry, now is a different time. I want to make a difference to the films I put out my name to. Nikamma is the first film I decided to make my comeback with. I have never played a role like this before. I don’t think any actress has played it.
Bollywood is about the survival of the fittest. What keeps you active while many of your contemporaries are off the show now?
Sai Baba had been my guiding force throughout. The other thing on which I have always relied is my gut instinct. I feel people don’t give importance to that. They should understand and rely on their gut feelings. When I pick up any project, I feel it is correct for me at that time. I am someone who thrives on love, and the audience has been giving me so much love, which has doubled because of my television visibility.
What was the motive behind launching your food channel on YouTube?
I was the first actor to start my own YouTube channel. Back then, a lot of people made fun of me and told me why I needed to be there? It is a place for non-famous people who become popular, but my motive was different. I wanted to show that if I can cook healthy and nutritious food, then people can too. Also, healthy food is always perceived as not being tasty, so I wanted to change this perspective.
How do you take the invasion of social media?
I came onto social media since my niece told me that if I don’t come on social media, then I am not cool. Till date, it was her password only on my accounts. I was on a holiday in London, and she introduced me to Instagram. In a day, I gained 20K followers, and my niece said that I am not that popular. For Instagram, we have to stay relevant, else people have no interest. It was a task for me, but then I decided to put out content for helping people like yoga, Monday motivation and Sunday binge that became so popular.