Let us begin with a small incident. The film is nearing the interval. The hero and the heroine are locked in an emotionally charged conversation atop a high rise building. Suddenly the hero pushes the heroine down the building and seconds later her body lies in a pool of blood sending shivers down the audience's spines.
Then, from the well of the silent crowd, a shocked voice of a six year old boy shoots up, "Oh! She is dead. What a film it is, the heroine dies so soon?". The innocent remarks trigger peels of laughter from the people around.
For they know the asli heroine is not the one who has been killed just before the interval and the girl who looked a second fiddle so far was going to blaze the screen.
This was Baazigar in which the Celebrity Big Brother winner, Shilpa Shetty, was completely shadowed by Kajol, though the debutant entry in the film earned her a Filmfare nomination for best supporting actress award way back in 1993.
The shadow of Bazigar followed her. Shilpa went on to act in film after film. But she did not set the screen on fire and she continued to be eclipsed by Kajols and Ranis, Aishwarya's and Sushmita's.
No big award came her way. Neither was she roped in as ambassador of big brands though she entered the field as a Limca model. If she had done some endorsements for some jewellery and saree houses, she drew more media attention for things like alleged nexus between her father and a Mumbai underworld figure than anything else.
When another bunt girl from Karnataka Aishwarya Rai appeared on the entertainment screen with a Miss World crown and went on to become an icon garnering big awards, promos and adulation from all over the country and beyond along the way, Shilpa with her perfect curves, tall frame and beautiful face continued to remain almost in the periphery.
Sheilpa was nominated for Filmfare Best Debut Award for her role in Bazigar and lost it to? Then she continued to get nominated and mostly lost the award winning race in cases of prestigious Filmfare and Star Screen awards which make the statements on commercial success of Bollywood stars. After six years in film industry, she was nominated for Filmfare Best Actress award for her role in Dadkan which she lost once again but succeeded in winning the hearts of audiences.
But Shilpa has more grit than many of her contemporaries. The most remarkable thing about her is she did not lose heart with her moderate success. (A few days back, Asian Age editor M J Akbar called her a semi-successful Bollywood actress in his article, but of course it was before she won the Celebrity Big Brother award).
She kept acting in films and entertaining audiences with her graceful steps, jatkas and gestures in film award distribution ceremonies as well.
More than anything else, she uncovered other aspects of her personality and felt concerned over sufferings of human beings and animals. She strongly criticised the use of wild animals in circus. The way those once free and dignified animals get caged in the enclosures, barely bigger than the size of their bodies, appalled Shilpa.
"The best way to help these suffering animals is to boycott the circus," she said. She is a life time supporter of PETA and featured in its campaign advertisements last year.
Simlilarly she felt kindly towards HIV-AIDS victims and lent her support to a BBC World service Trust television show designed to tackle the problem of HIV/AIDS. She said the issue was close to her heart as she had portrayed an HIV positive in Phir Milenge, for which she was nominated for Filmfare Best Actress award once again. Though she lost this award a couple of other awards such as Giant International Awards, came her way for the film.
She survived the torments inflicted on her in Big Brother because of her innate strength which was beautifully expressed by the president of United Spirits when he chose her as brand ambassador of Romanov Vodka last May.
He said in a press meet, "Shilpa has been chosen for her status as an 'aspirational icon'. Her innate style, energy, and attitude highlight the core attributes of the brand."
Shilpa's cool-headed belief in her persona is eloquently brought out by her statement which she made while entering Celebrity Big Brother: "I have zero expectations. The only thing I really hope to keep is my self respect and my dignity.
" And she made it winning millions of hearts, not to speak of loads of money.
She has truly emerged as an icon of grit, perseverance, and elegant dignity.
Ernest Berstein is an associate staff writer. Upon graduation, he started a career in custom essay writing and has been providing quality college papers and essays. His specialty subject is essays on Shakespeare