‘Mohabbatein’ (2000), which was directed by Aditya Chopra, completes 20 years today. Touted to be one of Bollywood’s most romantic films, it also introduced Shilpa Shetty’s younger sister, Shamita Shetty, to the world of cinema. Shamita has been a part of several movies ever since, but the first film always holds a special place in an artiste’s filmography. The actress agrees and says that she has fond memories of filming her debut film.
She reminisces, “I was so raw at that time. I still remember how excited and happy I was to have got a platform like that for my debut film. It was a dream debut for anyone. I have grown up watching Yash Chopra ji’s films and am a fan of his work. I had an absolutely wonderful time during the shoot and made some amazing friends.”
Talking about her maverick director, she says, “Adi (Aditya) was so good with all of us. I learnt so much from him. He was extremely patient and like a school teacher with all of us. He was very clear about how he wanted his characters to look. For instance, I had to put on weight for my character, Ishika Dhanrajgir. I had to work hard on my body and gain weight. She was meant to be fit and an amazing dancer. I was very skinny and didn’t look anything like Ishika. I had to literally become her. I put on five kilos in six months. We were given extensive training, did acting workshops with Barry John, and enrolled for dance classes.”
The actress admits that the experience of shooting for ‘Mohabbatein’ had a lasting impact on her. Not only did she learn a great deal during the course of the shoot, but she also evolved as a person. She adds, “I had a really good trainer in Leena Mogre. She used to accompany me to a restaurant in Juhu and tell me what I needed to eat and what to avoid. It was that meticulous. In fact, I was introduced to weight training and healthy eating through this film. And that has stayed with me all these years. Today, it has become more of a habit. For me, not working out is a big thing.”
Shamita says she also cherishes the experience of working with Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan in the film. “When you are sharing screen space with Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan, there is so much to take away from that experience. I had met and interacted with them before because of Shilpa. I have always been in awe of Amitji. When he is in front of me, I become tongue tied (laughs!). He is so amazing and so disciplined. He always comes on time and is so down to earth. It was wonderful to be around these personalities. I feel blessed to have had a platform like that – it felt like one big family.”
Talking about her fellow co-stars, Shamita says, “Being newcomers, we made mistakes together and learnt together. I loved hanging out with them. They (Uday Chopra, Jugal Hansraj and Jimmy Sheirgill) used to call me the fourth boy because I was such a tomboy. I don’t know how I managed to pull off such a diva-like character (laughs!). The film has left me with such wonderful memories.”