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Business News/ Opinion / Blogs/  UNDERSTATEMENT: Cover girl running for cover
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UNDERSTATEMENT: Cover girl running for cover

Will glamour magazines continue to feature Shilpa Shetty as a cover girl who has it all?

Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra wave to the crowds during a match between Rajastan Royals and Delhi Daredevils at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, in Jaipur on 12 April 2011. Photo : Ajay Aggarwal/HT (Ajay Aggarwal/HT )Premium
Shilpa Shetty and Raj Kundra wave to the crowds during a match between Rajastan Royals and Delhi Daredevils at Sawai Mansingh Stadium, in Jaipur on 12 April 2011. Photo : Ajay Aggarwal/HT
(Ajay Aggarwal/HT )

So far, in the world of glamour, Shilpa Shetty has been a privileged, frequent flier. The one-time Bollywood actor, a favourite cover girl of fashion and society magazines, former winner of U.K’s reality show Big Brother and bit-owner of Indian Premier League (IPL) team Rajasthan Royals has mostly lived a charmed life. Or at least a life that looked “charmed" in the aspects beamed out to the world watching her. Film events at Yorkshire after her Big Brother win, magazine stories soaked in the hauteur of fashion and luxury that rolled out her country-side mansion in England, her spa-fitness enterprises in India or her glittering wedding some years back to supposed billionaire Raj Kundra gave her an enviable halo. It pushed back the ifs and buts around her thick-browed 1993 debut in Baazigar, her much publicized relationships, her proximity to liquor baron Vijay Mallya, even her average performances in most of the films she starred in.

Barring an odd one, no film came her way despite the publicity she received after her harassment on Big Brother. While some sections in Bollywood murmured that it was because of the Shetty family’s alleged links with the underworld, most just shrugged it away. They preferred to see what she preferred to show. Shilpa Shetty Kundra was out there after all, carrying her branded bags fabulously, wearing fashion that looked better on her than on mannequins and models, smiling and laughing, being a gorgeous wife and a vivacious mother. She even released a Yoga CD as many out-of-work Bollywood heroines do. Shetty’s being the ideal body that women “who have it all" should have, it gave many of her fans a fitness dream.

My jaw has often dropped at Ms Shetty-Kundra’s fantastic figure and her dance to the song “Mein Aayi Hoon U.P. Bihar Lootne" in the film Shool will undoubtedly remain a scorcher in the history of Bollywood item numbers, but I have never been a fan of her ‘cat who got the cream’ look every time she stepped out with Raj Kundra as “owners" of Rajasthan Royals.

Last month, when Hello! magazine put her on the cover yet again on their mind, body, soul special, parts of the story where her mother comments about admiring Shilpa for being an ideal mum to son Viaan (“she massages the child herself by putting him on his knees")—made me scoff. So, isn’t that what mothers are supposed to do? Just because she is famous for being famous, should massaging and bathing her child be seen as extraordinary feats of motherhood?

As it turns out, Shilpa Shetty Kundra is no longer the best-est cover girl with the most-est. She has allegedly been betting on cricket, including on her own team along with her husband who bets too. While no one knows details about Kundra’s real “business empire", his status as another poor, rich man is confirmed. Lots of people in India, both politicians and celebrities routinely fall from grace then try and clamber back again on high horses. But I am not so sure if the sense of entitlement with which Mrs and Mr Kundra walked around as owners of the Rajasthan Royals team (while only owning some 11 per cent shares in reality) will ever return.

It better not.

While Shetty was at least the official face of the team since her 2009 video shot in Rajasthan’s City Palace, the focus on her and Kundra lately has also been about the idly roving eye of TV cameras searching for symbols of glamour to match the steam of IPL and coming up again and again with these two, seen laughing as if, without a care in the world.

It’s come for a huge price. The big question now is will fashion and society magazines continue to feature Shilpa Shetty on their covers, carrying on as if nothing has happened? Or will her frequent flier status be waitlisted and she sidelined for being dishonest to one of India’s most important religions? Doesn’t glamour too need a conscience for being genuinely influential and in fashion?

And when she does feature in a new, candid “tell-all" magazine story (as a film is unlikely come her way), will we get re-charmed by her slender figure, her acquired poise and her rich wife- yummy mummy status? Or will we know better?

My bet is it will be the latter.

This fortnightly series is a comment on popular culture statements made through actions or words.

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Published: 12 Jun 2013, 08:40 PM IST
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