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Shefali Shah claims that Delhi Crime changed the game for her, and that filmmakers realised she didn't have to be in the background.

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Monday, 26th July 2021

Shefali Shah has been on a roll since her role as cop Vartika Chaturvedi on Netflix's Delhi Crime. The critically acclaimed show won the International Emmy Award in 2020, and the actor hasn't looked back since, to use a cliche. She won hearts this year with Ajeeb Daastaans, an anthology in which she co-starred with Manav Kaul in Kayoze Irani's Ankahi. She also appears in Alia Bhatt's debut production Darlings and Ayushmann Khurrana's Doctor G. She has now made her directorial debut with two short films, Happy Birthday Mummyji and Someday. While Someday is making the rounds at film festivals, Happy Birthday Mummyji was released on Friday on the YouTube channel of Large Short Films.

In an interview with, Shefali stated that she has always wanted to direct. “I'd always wanted to direct, but I wasn't sure I could handle the responsibility of a full-fledged future,” Shefali explained, adding that the ideas for both of her short films came to her during the lockdown. “One of the things that struck me the hardest during the lockdown was the isolation, separation, and distance from people we love. So, both of these films are set (or are based on) the time when the world was hit by a pandemic and was subjected to lockdowns. I was just thinking – what if there was a completely different perspective on isolation? Because isolation is always associated with something sad, dark, and depressing. And it is from there that the film is derived. It was as if a light bulb went off in my head. And I just said, 'I'm going to do it, I want to do it, and I will do it,'" Shefali explained. Shefali said that Happy Birthday Mummyji was inspired by "many episodes of my own life, the lives of my friends, and the women I know."

'Directing is addictive and liberating,' she says. “Because you have a vision, everything falls into place bit by bit. And it takes a large number of people to make it happen. It's thrilling. It's a learning experience because you're constantly thinking on your feet,” she responded. When asked if she feels the same way about acting, Shefali quipped, "I love to act because I can play so many different characters." Every character I play drains everything from me. It drains, exhausts, and completes me. It takes a piece of me and leaves a piece of the character behind. It's incredible. If I hadn't been an actor, I would have had some kind of multiple disorder or something.”

Vipul Shah, Shefali Shah's husband, is also a well-known Bollywood filmmaker. Did she learn anything from him? “We talk about everything we do. I consult with him whenever I am offered a project. If he's working on something, I'm usually one of the first to read the script or see the rough cut. I recall speaking with Vipul. I said I wanted to direct, and this is a risk I'm willing to take. I told him I was willing to put in whatever it took from my end. I told him that all I needed was someone to handle it for me.

“I was very fortunate to get Aashin A Shah, who is the film's co-producer,” Shefali responded, revealing that Vipul Shah thought she was "spending too much time on the prep." “I told him that you are a seasoned director, whereas I am not. And I have my own way of doing things. So that's what I'm going to do. That's how it was,” Shefali went on.

Shefali made her acting debut with iconic film Rangeela (1995) but she agrees that it is only in the last one and a half year that she is finally doing the kind of work she always aspired. “I've finally been doing the kind of work I want to do for the last year and a half. I'm doing the type of work I've always wanted to be a part of and desired. I'm getting leads and central characters now. “There are parts being written for me,” she explained.

Shefali attributes this shift in her career to Delhi Crime, saying, "Delhi Crime changed everything for me." It altered how people perceived me and how they valued me. I've always been very fortunate in receiving love, admiration, and respect for the work I do. However, after the series, it began to translate into work. They (filmmakers) realised that with Delhi Crime, they could put an entire show or film on my shoulders, or I could play a parallel lead. They were convinced that I was not just someone who needed to be in the background. “It really changed things,” the actor stated.

The film Delhi Crime was released in 2019. The show, in which Shefali Shah played DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, has been renewed for a second season. When asked if the series' filming was finished, Shah stated, "Work on season two has begun." We're just left with a shambles. It was postponed due to coronavirus pandemic-induced lockdowns.”

She also spoke enthusiastically about her upcoming lineup for the year. “I have a fantastic lineup this year. I'm watching Human, a medical thriller. It's about the dark side of medicine and human drug trials. It's part of a series. It's a role I've never played before. In fact, it is a character I have never met before. In Darlings, which also stars Alia Bhatt and Vijay Varma, I play a role I've never played before. It's the first in a series. I've never played a role like this before. In fact, I've never met anyone like him before. Darlings, in which I co-star with Alia Bhatt and Vijay Varma, features me in a role I've never played before.

The actor, who believes in taking on roles that give her "sleepless nights," concluded by saying she is excited to see how people react to her directorial debut. “I'm shaking like a leaf! I'm able to sleep and eat. My stomach is filled with gas balloons. I suffer from severe anxiety. And I'm like, 'Oh my god, what was I thinking when I made this?' I'm not sure how people will react to it.


The News Talkie Bureau


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