See, people like Amitabh, Shah Rukh, Akshay — fans like them as actors. I want to be liked as a person. It doesn't matter if I am not loved, but being liked is important to me. I know I don't have the charisma or dynamism of the others, so I pitch my goals lower."
(Rediff, Apr. 1997)

From a family of restauranteurs, with a string of businesses including restaurants hotels, and clothing boutiques to his name, Sunil Shetty is a rare hybrid of actor and businessman. But he has found to his regret that the two don't mix easily.

Sunil Shetty    Sunil met his future wife through, of all things, a shared passion for motorcycles. Despite lingering rumors of an affair with Sonali Bendre, he can comfortably claim that "My image is that of a family man, both on and off screen." (Rediff, Apr. 1997) One of the most media-savvy stars, he caters to the press in return for articles that have helped him maintain a high profile through many a box office flop. He also uses his celebrity to draw patrons to his restaurants. "I have this restaurant called Mischief Dining Bar where I go every Sunday and meet these kids who come to see me. Good for the business too!" (Rediff, Oct. 1997)

    His latest business venture, Popcorn Entertainment, caters to the immense demand abroad for stage shows -- concerts in which Bollywood actors will reenact for a live audience the most popular lip-synched dance sequences from recent films. The hype surrounding the company has been intense, particularly since some of the performers -- namely, Akshay Kumar -- supposedly share cold vibes with Sunil. But the undertaking has not been a financial success. Sunil cheerfully explains, "I have not lost money. My money is due. The promoter has promised to pay me back. But I am the last person to spoil relations for money. If he gives it back great, if not, I'll cancel the amount as losses incurred." (Filmfare Online 2002)

    Such extraordinary good will makes it doubly surprising that many of the stars who performed on the Popcorn Entertainment tour are rumored to be unhappy about it -- most notably, Urmila Matondkar. "Money is the major problem. If stars don't get their money on time, people assume that there are lots of problems... Urmila was upset because she didn't get her money on time. As an organiser, I have to cater to all the stars' needs. When all my boys are busy with work, I can't loll on a chair. For me, work is worship. It doesn't matter whether the luggage was Urmila's or someone else's." (Filmfare Online, 2002)

    A remarkable man in many aspects, Sunil has said that he will retire from films the day he feels he has peaked, "because I want to do a lot more and I feel I am capable of doing a lot, lot more." (Rediff, Oct. 1999) Among his plans is a project with his mother-in-law to found a boarding school for the children of soldiers. "That way, the children will be away from their parents, war and terrorism. They will not be affected, education will reach them." (Rediff, Oct. 1999)

    Before that, however, Sunil's acting career has to peak -- and that means working with better directors. "It's very easy to put a film together -- to get a script and actors -- but direction is another matter altogether. That's why our success ratio is as low as 3 to 5 per cent. Because only 5 per cent of the films are made by genuine directors." (Rediff, Oct. 2001) Unfortunately, "Out of the 20-22 odd films that I have done, 19 of them have been directed by rank newcomers. They were first-time directors, which only goes to show that I worked on an emotional level. Anyone would come to me with a sob story and I was willing to work with that person. Now I need to take care of my interests which I am doing by working with sensible directors." (Rediff, Oct. 1999) He speaks wryly of his less successful choices: "My son does enjoy my action films. But the women in my family would be happier if I did socially relevant films. My mother, like any mother, says, 'What a lovely film!' and 'You have improved!' Which I know isn't true." (Rediff, Oct. 1999)

    He's also been working on his dancing. When asked to rate himself in that area, he replies, "Zero! I'm more about style than steps. I'm very graceful as a fighter because my honed instincts come into play here. But when it comes to dancing, I'm no good." (Rediff, Oct. 2001) But any improvement since his debut, he credits to sheer determination. "Before each shot, I would rehearse it 30, 40 times. See, my producer has selected me for his film, so he also has to take the time and trouble to groom me where I am weak. For action scenes, I don't need rehearsals or retakes. But for dance, I do rehearse -- and the results are showing, which is something I am happy about." (Rediff, Apr. 1997)

    Sunil understands that one must go to such lengths now in order to compete with newcomers like Hrithik Roshan and Arjun Rampal. "They look like they've been shooting for ten years when all they've done is one film. They are dangerous." (Rediff, Oct. 2001) But if they do get the best of him, we have no doubt that Sunil will have a multitude of other opportunities to excel.

Sunil Shetty
born: August 9, 1967
height: 5' 11.5"


1992 Balwaan
1993 Hum Hain Bemisaal
1993 Pehchaan Dil Aa Gaya
1993 Waqt Hamara Hai
1994 Dilwale*
1994 Gopi Kishan
1994 Mohra*
1995 Anth
1995 Gaddaar
1995 Raghuveer
1995 Suraksha
1995 Takkar
1996 Ek Tha Raja
1996 Krishna
1996 Rakshak
1996 Sapoot
1996 Shastra
1996 Vishwashghaat
1997 Bhai
1997 Border
1997 Judge Mujrim
1997 Prithvi
1997 Qahar
1998 Aakrosh
1998 Dhaal
1998 Humse Badkar Koun
1998 Vinashak
1999 Bade Dilwala
1999 Hu Tu Tu*
1999 Kala Samraiya
2000 Aaghaz
2000 Dhadkan*
2000 Hera Pheri*
2000 Jungle*
2000 Krodh
2000 Refugee*
2001 Ehsaas
2001 Ittefaq
2001 Kuch Khatti Kuch Meethi
2001 Officer
2001 Pyar Ishq Aur Mohabbat
2001 Yeh Tera Ghar Yeh Mera Ghar
2002 Awaara Paagal Deewana
2002 Jaani Dushman
2002 Kaante
2003 Baaz - A Bird in Danger
2003 LOC: Kargil
2003 Qayamat
2004 Hulchul
2004 Kyun Ho Gaya Na
2004 Lakeer
2004 Main Hoon Na
2004 Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav
2004 Rakht
2004 Rudraksh

* acclaimed performance

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