‘Swasth raho... mast raho’ — is Shilpa Shetty Kundra’s mantra for life
When you think of Shilpa Shetty Kundra, you think of fitness, style and the famous “Sunday binge”! But what has gone behind her fit body, how does she do the sexy-classy and what prompted her to return to films? During her recent visit to Calcutta, the mother of two spoke to The Telegraph about juggling various roles successfully, her secret talent and being the only Bollywood actor to have received the Golden Button by YouTube for crossing over a million subscribers. Excerpts…
Welcome to Calcutta! You are here after a long time…
A very long time, I don’t remember when I came here last. I love coming here because whenever I go back I take back gur sandesh, rosogolla and I binge on them! (Smiles)
You are coming back to films with Nikamma after so many years. What prompted you to end your sabbatical and get back to films?
I am looking forward to it. It’s a reason for my being, I took a self-imposed sabbatical because Vihaan (son) took precedence in my life and I felt now was the right time to foray back again. The script was interesting. When I do things I do them differently. When I decided to make a comeback, I was offered two films and I couldn’t say no to Ratanji (Jain) who is the owner of Venus who introduced me to the industry. I said yes to Nikamma, which will be my first release, on June 5 and then the other film in August.
How was it when you faced the camera for a film after such a long gap? Did you get the jitters?
Of course! 100 per cent. I am only human and the only consolation was the fact that I have been working continuously… I am still doing TV, brand endorsements, so I am still in touch with what is happening. And I felt the method of making a movie has changed. From the time I gave up films, in 12 years the content has become stronger, women are being offered better roles, the fact that sync sound has come in to play (laughs), we used to dub before! It’s even harder for someone like me because you need to improve your performance in dubbing and have to be perfect in every shot. But I am loving and enjoying it!
You have always been fit, so what made you get into the whole fitness thing and take it to another level, especially with your app?
(Smiles) That’s a really interesting question. Yes, I was always known for my glamour, my body, and I think it came to me from the fact that… also genetically I was blessed. I used to be a volleyball player, my parents made sure that I was into a lot of extra-curricular and there was a lot of discipline in my regimen. That came handy to me as an actor, also at a time when no actor used to visit a gym, I used to. I decided to foray into this milieu in bringing about this awareness to have good health and wellness with my own yoga DVD that goes 12 years back and it was a huge hit! I realised people want to be steered in the right direction and what’s the point of keeping this information all to yourself if you can’t be of any help to other people. I give credit for my health to yoga, which is absolute science and it comes from India and people all across the world come to us for yoga.
Besides a proper workout routine, what do you think are the other must-dos to remain fit? Especially for people who don’t have access to a gym?
Nutrition is another aspect. If you want to be fit and healthy, then there has to be a balance of nutrition and any kind of workout regimen. To spread that understanding, I started talking about it on social media, be it on Instagram or TikTok, in my own subtle way.
Nutrition being such a huge aspect, I started to cook on my YouTube channel and we have millions of subscribers now. Now people talk about it. Today I met this air hostess who said, ‘Me and my mom love your recipes and we try them out.’ And it’s so heartening to know. The Shilpa Shetty App is designed to help people achieve their desired goals in ‘Simple and Soulful’ ways with bespoke target-based programmes, yoga routines and diet plans. One can download and subscribe the SS App on iOS and Android.
You juggle many roles, along with being a mother. How does one take care of kids and teenagers who are indulging in unhealthy eating?
I am glad you asked me this and through you I can convey it to the parents that kids are not going to learn of their own and the parents need to inculcate the habits. Emphasise on good eating habits. Make it like a rule with the kids that they shouldn’t be eating too much sugar. Sugar is really the root cause of all our illness. If you see today we are succumbing to heart ailments, diabetes, blood pressure and cancer. It’s all lifestyle issues and diseases we are living with and combating. If you want to bring about a change you have to rewind life to 50-70 years back and see how they ate.
Have you been able to keep Vihaan’s diet on check?
He is just seven-and-a-half years and he doesn’t eat sugar. I try my best to not let him eat that on other days, only weekends he is allowed. Sunday binge he is allowed anything he wants to, other days may be he is allowed just an ice cream or a piece of chocolate.
Coming to your style, you have always done sexy in a very classy way. Tell us how to get a classy-sexy look right?
(Laughs out loud) There is no key yaar! You have to go with your sensibilities and it is a very thin line between being sensuous and being vulgar. Now I am married and have a child… I like to be age appropriate and yet be aspirational. I want people to understand that just because I am in my 40s doesn’t mean I have to look like an old hag! Today 40s are the new 20s… at least the 30s! (laughs) And I think it’s left to you how you dress up. I feel when you wear something it has to enhance you, elevate you and it’s not about showing leg or cleavage, it’s about an outfit and attitude and how you carry yourself. I am most comfortable wearing a sari. I do it all the time and I love Indian clothes and the mix of edgy and Indian styles.
Is there a style that you would never think of wearing 10 years ago but have embraced it now?
If I didn’t do a trend 10 years ago, I don’t think I would do it now either (laughs). I always look at fashion as evolving but I also feel it’s intrinsic and you cannot have a fashion streak if you are not taking a risk. Say 10 years ago I wouldn’t risk tying my hair up, I would always blow-dry and leave it open as I thought that was my personality and I had my curls, but now I tie it up. Because you have to move ahead with times and also think about your outfit as well. I have become more of a risk-taker now as fashion is evolving but ya I don’t like balloon skirt or dhoti pants. I did them when I was in school and I hated them! (laughs)