Shilpa Shetty on the 90s era: ‘Things were far-fetched actresses were glamorous’

The landscape of Indian cinema underwent a transformation through the decades, with the 90s being particularly noted for its escapist allure and the glamour draped around its leading ladies. One such star of this vibrant era, Shilpa Shetty Kundra, recently shared her insights into the filmmaking ethos of that time and the consequent evolution in content and portrayal of women.

The iconic actress, who took the industry by storm with her striking debut in the film ‘Baazigar’ in 1993, has since then navigated the changing tides of Bollywood across both the 90s and 2000s. Adding to her roster of achievements, she ventured into the world of digital entertainment with Rohit Shetty’s ‘Indian Police Force’ on a streaming platform in 2024.

In a detailed conversation with IANS, Shetty delved into the stark contrast between past and present cinematic landscapes. She recollects the 90s as a time when cinema was a portal to the fantastical, a means to “escape from reality,” which necessitated over-the-top narratives and the quintessential glamorized actresses. She asserts that during that period, “people didn’t want to see drab stuff,” which led to the evident chasm between art and commercial films.

However, Shetty observes that today’s film industry bears witness to the blurring of lines between these once rigidly defined categories. Contemporary cinema, according to her, is a reflection of an increasingly egalitarian society that seeks to portray women in a light more consistent with their roles in today’s world. According to Shetty, great content is the focal point of films, and clout is gathered around storytelling rather than the dazzle of the silver screen.

Eminent female actors like Shefali Shah, Vidya Balan, and Tara Shetty are cited by Shetty as examples of how women are charging ahead as strong protagonists in modern narratives. The shifting trends point to a broader acceptance and celebration of women’s multifaceted nature, both on and off the screen.

Shetty asserts the significance of moving with the times, which Bollywood has actively embraced, creating a space where different eras are incomparable owing to their unique contexts and audiences. She remarks on the unpredictability of future trends, leaving open-ended the possibilities of what the next decade might unfold in the realm of film.

The actress’s deep-dive into the nostalgia of the 90s, coupled with an analysis of the currents that shape today’s silver screen narratives, sheds light on the dynamic and responsive nature of the Indian film industry. It also underlines the progress in societal attitudes reflected in the more serious and diverse roles offered to women in cinema.

With a career spanning over three decades, Shilpa Shetty’s perspective offers an invaluable insider’s look into the evolution of Bollywood and its adaptability to the changing demands and sensibilities of audiences, ensuring that cinema remains at the heart of cultural discourse.

Her commitment to the craft of acting and the film community at large remains undiminished, even as she ventures into new territory with her recent series debut. As she wraps up her interview, Shetty’s concluding thoughts encapsulate the essence of an industry in continual flux, with the promise that adaptability and innovation will drive it forward for years to come.

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