Article Hindi

When Shilpa Shetty turned bald and beautiful — birthday special


On the diva's birthday, let's revisit a role in which Shetty's sacrifice didn't bear fruit.

Keyur Seta

The name Shilpa Shetty brings to mind the picture of a beautiful, glamourous actress. And why not? She has had an image of a pretty diva who just refuses to age. So much so, that she turns 42 today, but doesn’t look her age at all.

But amid playing glamorous characters all these years, there was one film in which she went an extra mile for her film. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of the film. So, on her big day, let’s take a look at the lesser-known aspect of her career.

Director Kabir Khan's Tubelight with Salman Khan is touted to be the first Indo-China venture. However, Shilpa Shetty did an Indo-China film at the start of the decade. Titled The Desire, it was directed by R Sarath. This one also saw the involvement of the actress’s mother, Sunanda Shetty as producer. This was her first (and last so far) movie as a producer.

It starred Chinese actor Xia Yu along with a host of Indian actors like Anupam Kher, Vikram Gokhale, Jaya Prada, Sachin Khedekar, Sheetal Menon and Nakul Vaid. The film is a love story between an Indian classical dancer, Gautami (Shilpa Shetty) and a Chinese artist (Yu). The two meet when she is on a travel assignment. Later, circumstances force her to join a monastery and become a nun.

The most surprising detail about the film was that Shilpa Shetty had turned bald for her character. This was during the phase when her character becomes a monk.

Poster of The Desire

Shilpa Shetty isn’t the first actress to appear bald on screen. Actresses like Lisa Ray (Water), Antara Mali (And Once Again) and Tanvi Azmi (Bajirao Mastani) are a few other examples. Shabana Azmi had done it for Deepa Mehta’s Water. But she opted out of the film later. Nandita Das had also done the same for the same film, but she too didn’t end up doing the movie.

While the aforementioned actresses actually shaved off their hair, Shilpa decided to use prosthetics. Speaking about her experience, she had said to a publication, "I opted for prosthetic make-up for the film. Getting the bald look was a three-hour job. My film is complete now and has been shown at various international film festivals. It has just won the Best Narrative at the Boston Film Festival." Priyanka Chopra and Anushka Sharma are recent actresses to have sported the bald look for their films Mary Kom (2014) and Ae Dil Hai Mushkil (2016), respectively.

Unfortunately, Shilpa Shetty’s decision to go through the long prosthetics process turned out to be a waste because The Desire never got released in India. The only compensation for her and the rest of the team was that the film was shown and appreciated at a few international film festivals, including the New York Film Festival.

It also won Best Narrative Feature Film Award at the Geneva Film Festival.

Watch the trailer of The Desire: