Debuting in films in 1989 with Bhrashtachar, model and actress Shilpa Shirodkar went on to feature in lead and supporting roles in films such as Kishen Kanhaiya (1990), Benaam Badshah (1991), Hum (1991), Khuda Gawah (1992), Dil Hi Toh Hai (1992), Aankhen (1993), Gopi Kishan (1994), Bewafa Sanam (1995), Bandish (1996), Mrityudand (1997), Badmaash (1998), Gaja Gamini (2000), Barood: (The Fire) - A Love Story (2012), and Guns Of Banaras (2020). She has also featured in TV shows such as Ek Mutthi Aasmaan, based on the life of domestic helpers, Silsila Pyar Ka, and Savitri Devi College & Hospital. An engaging and attractive actress, she was initially typecast in roles that were more cosmetic in nature. She featured opposite many A-list stars of the time including Mithun Chakraborty, Govinda, Anil Kapoor, Suniel Shetty and Ajay Devgan, among others.
Born on 20 November, 1973 to Vanita and Nitin Shirodkar, her grandmother Meenakshi Shirodkar was a well-known actress of early cinema who starred in films such as Brahmachari (1938), and Brandichi Batli (1939). Shilpa made her entry in films before her older sister Namrata Shirodkar did. She was to be launched by filmmaker Sawan Kumar with the film Souten Ki Beti, after signing the contract in 1986 that would contractually oblige her to be committed to the film for four years. She was required to not sign any other film in this period. However, Sawan Kumar got busy with another film and Souten Ki Beti got delayed. Its progress was further impacted by the lead pair Rajesh Khanna and Tina Munim walking out of the film due to personal issues. Meanwhile Shilpa Shirodkar got an offer for Henna (1991). Mithun Chakraborty was also interested in launching her in the film Prahaar (1991), directed by Raj Tilak. She decided to start accepting the offers coming her way and began signing films. At this point, Sawan Kumar decided to sue her for breach of contract. After Shilpa's mother reasoned that Sawan Kumar’s film was delayed for three years with no shooting done at all, and also the monthly salary promised by the filmmaker discontinued after the first month, the contract was broken.
Shilpa eventually made her debut with Ramesh Sippy’s film Bhrashtachar (1989), starring Mithun Chakraborty and Rekha. She would be paired in 9 films opposite Mithun Chakraborty, with their onscreen pairing appreciated by fans. She went on to star opposite Anil Kapoor in the 1990 entertainer Kishen Kanhaiya. Directed by Rakesh Roshan, the film featured Anil Kapoor in a double role, with Shilpa Shirodkar and Madhuri Dixit in lead roles.
A succession of successful films followed such as Trinetra (1991) directed by Harry Baweja and Hum (1991) directed by Mukul S Anand. The latter was the second highest-grossing Indian film of 1991. It starred Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth, Govinda, Kimi Katkar, Deepa Sahi, Danny Denzongpa, and others.
She appeared in several other hit films such as Khuda Gawah (1992), Aankhen (1993), Pehchaan (1993), Gopi Kishan (1994), Bewafa Sanam (1995) and Mrityudand (1997). She played Heena in the epic drama Khuda Gawah written and directed by Mukul S Anand, alongside the cast comprising Amitabh Bachchan, Sridevi, and Nagarjuna. The film was a critical and commercial success, praised for its direction, screenplay, performances, soundtrack, and production values. Shilpa was also nominated for the Filmfare Award for Best Supporting Actress for the film. In the action comedy Aankhen directed by David Dhawan, she played Chandramukhi aka Chanda. The film starred Govinda in a double role, along with Chunky Pandey, and was the highest-grossing Indian film of the year. Shilpa won praise for her performance as Kanti in Prakash Jha’s Mrityudand, which also starred Madhuri Dixit, Shabana Azmi, Ayub Khan, Mohan Agashe and Om Puri.
Gaja Gamini (2000), which revolved around the central figure of Gaja Gamini essayed by Madhuri Dixit, saw Shilpa play Sindhu, one of the women who is inspired to revolt against a male-dominated system and carve a niche for women. Post her appearance in this M F Husain directorial, Shilpa decided to quit acting post marriage. After a hiatus of more than a decade from films, she made her comeback on television with the Zee TV show Ek Mutthi Aasmaan. She also featured in the serial Silsila Pyar Ka on Star Plus, and Colors’ Savitri Devi College & Hospital. She won the Zee Rishtey award for Favourite Naya Sadasya in Ek Mutthi Aasmaan.
The year 2020 saw Shilpa appear on the big screen in a supporting role in the Shekhar Suri directorial Guns of Banaras. The film had been completed in 2014 but was released six years later. She played the wife of Brijesh Singh played by Abhimanyu Singh in this action film which was a remake of the 2007 Tamil film Polladhavan. The film starred Karan Nath and Nathalia Kaur in leading roles, with Zarina Wahab, Vinod Khanna, Tej Sapru and others in supporting roles.