Shobha De

Last Updated: Jan 02, 2010, 18:30 PM IST

A former model, journo and editor of some of the most revered celebrity and gossip magazines, Shobha De is a prominent author and high-flying socialite (just like many of the leading female characters in her books). Erotic, provocative and sometimes even thought provoking, Shobha De’s writing style is signature, fierce and individualistic and is not restricted to the bounds of literary decorum and norms.


Known for her gung-ho spirit and speak-my-mind attitude, Shobha De had been a source of inspiration for many women back in the day. In an age when sex-talk was taboo and even a mere reference of the three-letter word embarrassed the ladies, India had its first female erotic author.

This Gen-X writer not only talked and wrote about sex, but became a sort of sex symbol, thanks to her plunging blouses and navel flaunting uber-low-waist saris. After all, she walked the talk.

At a time when the country was romancing the magical wonder of cable TV, Shobha added the much needed ‘it’ factor to books. And though many have often criticized her way of writing and banished it as pure thrash or soft porn, it rarely stopped them from reading it.

Call her books chick-lit or mere erotic literature, they presented the many facets of a woman that were anything but pretty. In fact, her heroines were sensuous, beautiful and smart yet conniving, conspiracy-hatching women who were so driven by power and luxury that they had do anything to get their wants.

Though she has been very candid or rather cynical about others, she fiercely protects her own privacy and not much is known of her otherwise private affairs.

Nevertheless, this super hot socialite did not become so hip and happening overnight. She had a very humble beginning, to say the least. Born on January 07, 1947, in a Saraswat Brahmin family, her maiden name was Shobha Rajadhyaksha.

A graduate in psychology from the St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, she went on to pursue a career in modeling and made quite a name for herself. However, she soon realized her true calling and took to pen and paper. After gaining significant experience in print media, she headed top magazines like Stardust, Society and Celebrity.

Even though her stint with these magazine brought her in the limelight, it was her much controversial novels that turned her into an overnight celebrity and a name to reckon with.

At the personal front though, not much is known about the high-flying socialite. After her first marriage ended in a bitter divorce she found happiness in her second marriage to industrialist and shipping tycoon Dilip De in 1984.

The two have been going strong ever since and are enjoying family life with their 6 children from their previous and current marriage.

In controversy

Controversy and Shobha De go hand in hand. She is by far one of the most controversial writers that India has ever had. She might be touted as the ‘princess of porn’, yet she is one of the most commercially successful female authors.

The author of a dozen sex-crazed novels, most of which have their title starting from S, Shobha de has found herself at the helm of many dirty controversies. From name-calling to accusation battles, the gutsy writer has taken much criticism in her stride to climb the ladder of success.

While her books are rarely appreciated and even rarely acknowledged, Starry Nights, one of her first initial works was just a tad too sloppy to be called a classic - not that any of her works can be measured up in the classic stature. In its own league the book set a benchmark of sorts. Starry Nights - her lustiest book ever, was a brutal exposé of the real life that goes behind the reel.

While most Indian heroines were made to look pure, untouched and wrapped in white silk saris, the book dwelled into the pain behind the fame. Starry Nights stripped Bollywood off its hypocrisies and brought to fore its ugly underbelly.

And if her books didn’t get her in enough trouble, her habit of taking potshots at celebrities have often left tongues wagging, mouths open and throats dry. Right from her magazine days, Shobha De was known for her forthrightness and sarcasm. Her blunt write-ups gave the celebs many sleepless nights. Not surprisingly, many went public with their displeasure and what followed were saucy catfights and juicy rumours.

Over sixty, she might have gained a few wrinkles but her tongue-in-cheek spirit is still fresh and buzzing. Most recently she hit the headlines once again for all the wrong reasons. This time she entered into a bitter war of words with b-town’s newbie Sonam Kapoor when in her blog De took a dig at Sonam Kapoor and Deepika Padukone:

For Sonam, Shobha said, “Sonam just doesn’t cut it in the sex appeal stakes”. And on Deepika being named Maxim Sexiest Woman on Earth, the writer said, “Deepika P is the sexiest woman on earth? Are you kidding me? She would not win a Miss Dombivali contest. I mean look at her closely. Go-on jawline? Too wide, eyes? Buldging. Hairline? Untidy, speech? Verni.”

Going by her style, Shobha De was being Shobha De. But apparently her humour did not amuse the pretty lass Sonam Kapoor, who was quick to hit back. The somber babe retorted by saying she did not think much of a sixty something porn writer”.

But while there has been no end to her Bollywood bashing, bitter spats and ugly tussles, she deserves much praise for her gutsy spirit and no-nonsense attitude. While Mumbai was burning, De was one of the few celeb Mumbaikars who came out and stood strong in support for the city.

A Mumbaikar by birth, it was her spirit that bought to fore the anger, humiliation and above all the frustration that every Mumbai resident felt during 26/11 as she gave a tongue-lashing to the country’s political system that had failed to protect its innocent citizens.

Notable works

Superstar India – from incredible to unstoppable
Strange obsession
Socialite Evenings
Starry Nights
Spouse: the truth about marriage
Surviving Men
Selective memoirs
Second Thoughts
Small Betrayals
Shooting from the hip
Sultry Days
Uncertain Liaisons