Childhood & Early Life
Shakeela was born C. Shakeela Begum, on November 20, 1975, in Nellore, Andhra Pradesh, into a middle-class family. She had six siblings. Belonging to a low-income family, her parents found it very hard to make ends meet. Her father did odd jobs and her mother was a simple homemaker.
She quit her studies as she entered her teenage and started working to support her family. However, she found it very hard to earn enough for her family. During the late 80s, she started receiving compliments about her body and face, which led her to dream about a career in the entertainment industry.
Shakeela idolized Silk Smitha, who was then at the peak of her career. She learned about how Silk made it big in the industry. Her curvy body and seductive presence allowed her to audition for many B-grade films. Shakeela was rejected initially, but slowly, as Silk Smitha’s stardom started fading, Shakeela began getting noticed by the South Indian B-grade film industry.
She started as a child artist in the late 80s. In 1986, she appeared in a number of films. These films were in various languages, such as Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Oriya, and Kannada. However, these films had small-scale releases in a handful of theaters.
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Shakeela is said to have worked for free in the earlier phase of her career, as the producers did not seem to have money to pay her. This made her quite popular among filmmakers.
As she grew up, her demand in the industry increased, and she finally made her adult debut in the movie ‘Play Girls.’ In the film, she played the role of a the younger sister of the character played by Silk Smitha.
The film did well and marked the arrival of another star in the low-budget industry. This fame then translated into more roles for Shakeela, and by the late 90s, she became a well-known face.
Some of her most popular films of that time were ‘Jallikattu Kaalai,’ ‘Marumalarchi,’ ‘Beauty Palace,’ and ‘Captain.’ She was much in demand in the entire South Indian film industry, but she was especially popular with the Tamil filmmakers.
However, despite her growing number of films, she had not yet reached the level of success that Silk Smitha enjoyed. Somehow, the Malayalam film industry had grown to like her a lot, and as a result of this she appeared in more than 20 Malayalam films in 2001.
One of her Malayalam films, ‘Kinnarathumbikal,’ earned her nationwide limelight. Everyone, ranging from teenage boys to older men, was in awe of her, and she quickly turned into a pop culture icon.
In 2002, she earned immense fame in the Telugu film industry, with the film ‘Thotti Gang,’ which starred some of the biggest names of the mainstream industry, such as Prabhu Deva and Gajala. Contrary to her earlier movies, the comedy film received rave reviews and was declared a super hit at the box office.
‘Thotti Gang’ was one of those films which were not as cheap as her usual B-grade films. With her performance in this movie, she proved that she could take on a good role, if given a chance.
She continued working in B-grade Malayalam films and appeared in more than a dozen films in 2002. The year 2003 brought her four mainstream films, namely, ‘Jayam,’ ‘Nijam,’ ‘Dhool,’ and ‘Dongodu.’
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It was assumed that she had changed her track, as she continued working in mainstream films for the next few years. Some of her most successful titles from the mid-2000s were ‘Bangaram,’ ‘Chotta Mumbai,’ and ‘Vathiyar.’ Most of these movies enjoyed moderate success at the box office.
The late 2000s brought her a few Tamil movies, such as ‘Maanja Velu,’ ‘Guru Sishyan,’ and ‘Boss Engira Bhaskaran,’ which were both commercially and critically successful. She earned accolades for a few of her roles, which was a major achievement, as many filmmakers in the industry did not even consider her to be a serious actor.
Subsequently, Shakeela featured in a few small films, such as ‘Romantic Target’ and ‘Ade Baaja.’ In 2016, she appeared as a character artist in the film ‘Love U Alia,’ which had Bhoomika Chawla in the lead role. The film was made in Hindi, Telugu, and Kannada simultaneously and earned some decent reviews upon its release.
In 2016, she appeared in the Tamil comedy ‘Sakalakala Vallavan,’ which featured a few popular actors, such as Jayam Ravi and Trisha.
By now, Shakeela had appeared in more than 100 films in almost all major Indian languages, and some of her films had crossed over to other countries. She happens to have a massive fan base in Sri Lanka, Nepal, and Bangladesh, among other countries.
She acted in over 40 adult films in Malayalam in 2001 and 2002 alone, which earned her the tag of the quintessential B-grade film actress. Although later in her career she primarily resorted to playing character roles, she could never shrug off the notorious tag.
Recently, she also made an appearance in the second season of the reality show ‘Big Boss Kannada.’
Shakeela did not shy away from doing bold topless scenes in some of her earlier films. However, once she earned mainstream success, she frequently said no to such scenes. Following this, body doubles were used in many of her films.
Shakeela was hugely popular with the Malayalam film community and her male audiences loved her. She claimed that she was deluged with marriage proposals from more than 100 filmmakers and actors, at the peak of her career. A few filmmakers and film producers were said to have gone as far as naming their homes after her.
Shakeela, for the longest time, had been the center of curiosity for many, owing to very limited public knowledge about her background. Her autobiography gave a detailed insight into her early life.
In the past, Shakeela has been linked with many famous film personalities. However, there have been no confirmed reports of her marriage or kids.