HELLO! India May 2024 cover with Shilpa Shetty© HelloIndia

#HELLOExclusive: Shilpa Shetty Kundra Is Living Her Best Life

HELLO India Logo
Sandipan Dalal

Celebrated for her versatility as an actor, fitness and fashion icon, TV personality, and entrepreneur, Shilpa Shetty Kundra has seamlessly embraced diverse roles over her illustrious three-decade-long career. However, it is her unwavering dedication to her family that shines through beyond all her professional accomplishments. As a devoted wife and nurturing mother, she has embraced the joys of motherhood with fervour and stood by her husband, Raj Kundra, during challenging times. “Raj is a good person, and he is in my life because we have a soul connection. We were meant to be in this life together and learn a lot from our lives journey,” she says.

As she embarks on her third decade in the industry (“I don’t know how I survived it!” she says), the stunning actress embraces what she believes to be the best phase of her life. “I tend to avoid dwelling on the past,” she asserts. In a previous interview, she discussed making career mistakes and the lessons learned, though she’s unable to pinpoint a specific anecdote. “There are too many to share,” she says with a laugh. “I have tried to learn as much as I can. Like in cooking, even if you have stellar ingredients, the final dish may not taste very good. So you keep adjusting the measurements until you get the perfect dish.”

Currently, she’s savouring her successes; on screen, she surprised audiences with her role as a housewife rediscovering her free-spirited past in 2023 film Sukhee. More recently, she portrays the resilient cop Tara Shetty in the streaming series Indian Police Force, directed by blockbuster filmmaker Rohit Shetty. “Finally, filmmakers are offering me roles that are so relevant I can’t resist,” she says. Beyond acting, she’s an active entrepreneur, investing strategically in ventures like Mamaearth, Kisankonnect, and 100Percent Nourishment, and even launching her own fitness and health app, Simple Soulful.

In a candid conversation with HELLO!, Shilpa reflects on redefining boundaries, balancing stardom, motherhood and personal triumphs, and eagerly anticipating her best years yet.

HELLO!: Shilpa, as you find yourself in a new phase of your life, nearing 50, how would you describe the current chapter?

Shilpa Shetty Kundra: “It is a golden period in my life. I’m really someone who enjoys and makes the most of my present and I’m doing just that. I take every day as it comes and I try to do the best I can—both as an artist and a mother. Sometimes the artist in me feels that I should have taken on more commitments on a professional level; sometimes, the mother in me feels I’m glad I’m spending time with my children as they are growing up and these days will not come back. It would be right to say that this is the best phase of my life.”

H!: You’ve experienced various ups and downs in life. How do you navigate through the twists and turns, both professionally and personally?

SSK: “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. I trust in the universe and I’m a big believer in Sai Baba, my guru. The mantra is to have faith and patience—and it has to be implicit. Whatever happens in life, happens for the best. There is a reason for it, and there is a learning too. So you have to take it in your stride and move on. No situation in life can bog me down. I have become a far stronger person and it comes from sheer faith. The process has to be endured and one cannot question it.”

H!: How would you describe the evolution and strengthening of your relationship with Raj today?

SSK: “I believe that marriage is a circle and we have to work within that circle. Every relationship comes with its ups and downs. We have many such experiences and it’s not that the ups and downs were between us. We We live in a glass fishbowl, and naturally, people pass judgments. What really worked for Raj and me is that we are friends first, and that’s what keeps us going. Whatever happens, we are brutally and absolutely honest with each other, and that’s the bedrock of our relationship. We have been able to combat whatever has come our way because of our friendship and honesty.”

H!: Workwise, you had Sukhee last year, and now there’s Indian Police Force, marking a significant shift in your career.

SSK: “I have been steering myself to projects that are relevant and of significance to me at this stage of my life. I made a conscious decision to take on roles that are meaty and well worth my time because filming means staying away from my children for long periods of time. ”

H!: Playing Tara Shetty, the first female cop in Rohit Shetty’s cop universe, seems like a transformative role. Can you share your experience portraying this character, and how do you think it contributes to the evolving landscape of women in Indian cinema?

SSK: “Even though female cops are in the minority group in police services, the treatment of Tara Shetty made me feel equal with the other male oficers in the series. Although not much is revealed about Tara’s background and her journey, she presents herself as a powerful police oficer who can really kick butt if the need arises. To bring such a character to life itself is very empowering, and I went all out. I was really burning the candle from both ends. Tara’s character is important in today’s times especially when roles are written for women actors who are making a huge impact on the audience.”

H!: You’ve mentioned that your son is a fan of Rohit Shetty. Do you take your children’s perspective into account while making career decisions?

SSK: “I was inundated with offers at the time Indian Police Force was offered to me, but I took on the role primarily to impress my son Viaan. We were discussing the role at the dinner table, and I was telling my husband that I didn’t think I would be able to take it up because there was too much happening at work and I wanted to be home for the kids too. Viaan was barely 10-and-a-half at that time, and he said, whatever happened, I couldn’t let go off this series. He had watched Sooryavanshi at the theatre a few months earlier, and was very excited about it. He said, “You can leave all the rest of the stuff that you’re doing, but you have to do this one.”

H!: Do you believe your children might have inherited the acting gene? How would you feel about them following in your footsteps?

SSK: “Oh my God, there’s definitely something called genes because I’ve seen it in my own home. I have never encouraged my son to become an actor, but he’s very clear that this is the industry that he’s going to get into. His favourite pastime is shooting videos, directing and starring in them himself, and even adding background music to them. He loves Rajkumar Hirani’s movies and Rohit Shetty and Siddharth Anand action films. He uses a green screen and suddenly I see him direct an action sequence. I don’t know if he’s going to become a director or an actor, but he definitely has the making of someone who has a future in the film industry. He’s just turned 12 and he knows all about CGI, KineMaster and Plotagon. It’s amazing how he has learnt all of it from YouTube. We are very strict parents. He is the only child in his class who doesn’t have a phone. We’re trying our best to keep it as normal as possible, but I’m really enjoying the fact that Viaan is keen to explore my line of work. My daughter, who is four years old, says, “Mama, you are famous.” I think she must have asked my son why people take photos of me. They made a song about it too. It’s really hilarious; it goes: “Shilpa Shetty, Shilpa Shetty, can I have a photo? Okay. Okay. Make it fast. Okay. Okay.” Can you believe it? So she asked me, “Are you famous, Mama?” And I was like,“Yes, Samisha.” So she one day said to me, “Mama, even I want to be famous.” I don’t know which direction this is going to go; she’s way too young and has not watched a single movie. She just knows that Mama makes movies.”

H!: How challenging do you find it to provide your children with a typical upbringing?

SSK: “I’m always trying to keep them grounded, and inculcate values such as respect for elders and those who work for us, dedication to their studies and hobbies, and loyalty to family and friends. I have also taught them the importance of maintaining healthy eating habits. Ten years ago, when I was rationing sweets and chocolates, I was seen as the wicked mom. But today, everyone realises that sugar is of no good to growing children.”

H!: What activities do you enjoy doing together as a family?

SSK: “When I’m not working, I enjoy sleeping till 8.30am and getting a massage. On holidays and on Sundays, I prefer not to work because that is the only quality time we get with our children. We go to brunch, play monopoly, make slime and I paint with Samisha. As a family, we enjoy travelling and London is our favourite destination for holidays.”

H!: Shilpa, you’ve always been fit, but training for a police officer role requires specific preparation. Can you share your process with us?

SSK: “What was challenging was that I was simultaneously filming for Indian Police Force and Sukhee. I played a tired, skinny homemaker in her late 30s or early 40s in Sukhee, and wore relaxed costumes so that the muscular physique I was building for Tara Shetty wasn’t obvious. I was very disciplined at that time; I carried weights and a wunda chair with me since there was no gym in the heartlands of Chandigarh where we filmed Sukhee. I was working out every day with my trainers Aman and Yashmeen [Chauhan]. The fact that I have always led a fit and disciplined lifestyle helped me in achieving my goals very quickly. But I ended up with a knee fracture while filming Indian Police Force. Once you hit your 40s, you will see a decline in bone density and loss of muscle mass. One has to be consistent and disciplined, and this is hard to do when you have kids and shooting erratic schedules.”

H!: How have you navigated and embraced the changes in your body over time?

SSK: “You have to listen to your body. Do not underestimate the power of hydration, benefits of good sleep, meditation and balanced nutrition.”

H!: How do you feel about older women celebrities facing pressure to look younger?

SSK: “We are in the beauty business, after all. At the same time, you have to accept your perfections along with your imperfections. I have always believed in ageing with grace. I have been doing yoga and it has definitely helped slow down the ageing process. Cosmetic procedures are okay but don’t overdo it.”

H!: What are your aspirations for the future, both in terms of acting and as entrepreneur?

SSK: “I really hope to find roles that resonate with audiences and showcase a different side of me as an artist. And I think that, slowly and steadily, it is coming true for me with a film like Sukhee, which did well on OTT, and Indian Police Force. I haven’t really planned anything on the business front, but yes, if you see Shilpa Shetty Kundra associating with a business venture, it will only come from a place of passion. I can’t do business only because I think it’s going to make money. I want to use my popularity to make a difference in the sphere of health and wellness and have invested in several companies in this field.”

H!: Given the chance for a do-over, would you still choose the same path?

SSK: “I have taken each and every experience while working in my stride. I have learnt a lot and grown in this industry. Like any other profession, there are pros and cons. One has to have the maturity to deal with it. One has to be extremely special to garner the love and appreciation of our audiences in this business. I feel extremely blessed.”

Photos: Tejas Nerurkar; Creative Direction: Avantikka Kilachand; Styling: Anushree Sardesa; Assisted By: Ila Parakh; Make-Up: Savleen Manchanda; Hair: Seema; Location Courtesy: Bastian At The Top; Wardrobe Courtesy: Deme By Gabriella; Footwear Courtesy: World Of Anaar; Jewellery Courtesy: Hm Diwan

This interview has been adapted from a story published in the HELLO! India’s May issue. Get your hands on a copy right here!