Mumbai: Shilpa Shetty's big win and Aishwarya Rai's box-office success and off-screen liaisons have been the toast of the showbiz season.
But in the small south Indian community where both these women belong, the celebration is muted.
Both Aishwarya and Shilpa belong to Karnataka's Bunt community, known for their entrepreneurship in whatever business they choose to opt for.
If there's one thing the Shettys in Mumbai are closely identified with, it's the business of food.
When the small Bunt community - of which the Shettys are a part - moved over to Mumbai from Karnataka, they revolutionised Mumbai's palate.
So what’s the secret of their success? “Work hard night and day, nothing else matters,” says a restaurant manager, Balkrishna Shetty.
But the Shetty community has brought with it more than appetising plates of steaming idli-sambar.
Always a tightly-knit and sometimes private clan, the Shettys quietly branched out into various in Mumbai to stupendous success.
Actor Suniel Shetty, also a successful hotelier, attributes his survival in the film industry almost purely to his Bunt background and the disciplined work ethic that comes with it.
“I used to work in my father's hotel for about 18 hours a day, in the kitchen, doing the accounts etc. So when I came to the film industry it was much easier. It has made me strong here in this industry,” he says.
The Shettys have also forayed and made it big in the world of politics.
“It's a small community of 13 lakh, of which three lakh are in Mumbai. We are proud of Shilpa Shetty and Aishwarya Rai and so many others. Because of hard work and the focus of Bunts towards acquiring knowledge, they have made their mark,” says Minister of State for Tourism, Suresh Shetty.
Call it values or a sheer survival instinct, from the dreaded underworld gangster Sharad Shetty to Aishwarya Rai to this correspondent, the small population isn't stopping the Bunt community from forging ahead.
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