'I can pull off a rain dance very well'
Last week during the Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa dance-off round, Shilpa Shukla froze while performing. As a result, she was voted out of the show.
Rajul Hegde caught up with the actress, whose role of Bindiya in Chak De! India won her a lot of fans. Excerpts from a conversation:
This was the fourth time you landed up in the dance-off round. You've always passed before. What went wrong this time?
We started off well but everything changed after my prop (a stick) slipped and I didn t pick it up. Normally, when we miss a step or something goes wrong, we cover it up. But I really don't know what happened. I don't remember anything after that. My choreographer continued and completed the performance.
I managed to survive in the earlier dance-off rounds. But I have no regrets because I wasn't eliminated because of my performance. If that was the case, I would not have reached this level in the competition. Even on the elimination day, my performance wasn't weak; it's just that it wasn't my day. Now I am free and happy and feel good that I am a fighter.
Were you expecting to get eliminated?
Not really. When Parul Chauhan and I had to perform at the dance-off, I thought Parul would be eliminated. In fact, after her performance, I told her that it was her best so far and that she didn't deserve to be in the dance-off.
Image: Shilpa Shukla
'Vaibhavi Merchant said that she expected me to be in the top three'
What was your most memorable moment on the show?
It would have to be when my partner and I were the first participants to get full marks on the show. There was another time when (judge) Vaibhavi Merchant said that she expected me to be in the top three. That was the biggest compliment I got. Judges' comments are precious to me.
How was your experience?
It has been a beautiful experience. Winning and losing was not my criteria; I just wanted to give my best. I was just looking at my performance and wondering how far I could reach. I have learnt different forms of dance but I feel I am good at jazz. I have more energy and am a powerful dancer. I will definitely join jazz classes.
What is the kind of response you have gotten from the viewers?
I learnt Odissi for two years when I was very young. Later, I would perform at our society functions.My voting appeal was very good. I was flooded with messages after I was eliminated. I think viewers liked my dance. I got genuine votes and am happy that I have made an audience for myself. It has been a beautiful journey. It has changed my life in many ways. It took me a long time to prove myself and now, I am glad that people know me well. I have proved myself as a dancer too.
Image: Shilpa Shukla
'Hard Kaur has the x-factor'
Who, according to you, is the best dancer?
Gauhar Khan. But in reality shows, you need to connect with the viewers. Hard Kaur is so energetic and enthusiastic. My heart goes out for her because she is genuine and a self-made person. There is a combination of humour and entertainment in the way she expresses herself. Every week her performance is unique. She has the x-factor.
Tell us about your chorographer.
Nishant Bhatt is a bundle of talent and energy and is one of the youngest choreographers on the show. Even the judges said that Savio (Hard Kaur's choreographer) and Nishant are the best choreographers on the show.
Nishant made me do everything and made my strong points the USP. When you are dancing with your partner, you know he will lead you. But when you dance alone, your confidence level is low. Nishant helped me get that confidence and groomed me with every performance.
Are you in touch with Chak De! India team?
Yes. But I couldn't attend Viday's (Malvade) wedding in Februray. Chitrashi is my like my sister. Since she doesn't have a family here, I have become family to her. She has bagged a big project and is now busy with her shooting. I am also in touch with Anaitha, Ary and Shuba.
Image: Shilpa Shukla
'Playing tough girl on Rajuben gives me my dose of reality'
What made you take up the TV show Rajuben -- a mini series directed by Anurag Kashyap?
Initially, when I was offered Rajuben, I said no to it because of date issues. But in my heart, I knew it was the role of a lifetime. Somehow I managed and started shooting for the show. I enjoyed playing the character and would have regretted if I hadn't done the show.
I am from a theatre background. I have used all my acting skills on this show. Playing tough girl on Rajuben gives me my dose of reality.
What is Rajuben about?
Rajuben is a superwoman. I play a wife, mom, daughter and gangster -- Rajuben is involved with the various relationships in her life and takes them right to the very end. That makes her a very layered character. I am glad that viewers are hooked to this show. I've heard that people cancel their dinners to watch the show.
Will we see you in more TV shows?
I felt that there was a need for me to reach out to the audience through the medium of television. Television happened to me at the right time. Even the audience must be amazed by the contrast of images in the two shows, Jhalak and Rajuben.
Whie Rajuben is acting-oriented, Jhalak is about dance. I have Bollywood films in hand too and they are my priority now. So I don't think I will do any more TV shows.
After Chak De! India, you are not offered anything from its producer, Yash Raj Films.
I meet Yash Chopra at award functions and we greet each other. I know they respect me as an actor but Yash Raj Films cater to a different kind of audience. Maybe they think I don't fit into the kind of roles they have. If given a chance, I can even do a rain dance and pull if off very well [smiles]. I am sure they will offer something interesting whenever they have a suitable role for me.
I am doing Seasons Greetings which also stars Tabu, Shreyas Talpade and Javed Jaffery. Then, there is Anil Singh's Mumbai Mast Kalander, where I play a makeover artist. Both are light-hearted films and will release in October.
Image: Shilpa in a scene from Rajuben