After the tremendous success of Delhi Crime, Shefali Shah is back with another intense web series, Human, created by her husband, Vipul Shah. The actress plays Dr Gauri Nath in the medical drama, a role that put her way out of her comfort zone and challenged her every day. “I don’t know if it’s going to work,” confesses Shefali during a candid chat with News18.
Shefali reveals she has been more busy during the pandemic than in her entire career. “Roles are being written for me, I am headlining shows,” says she, admitting that Delhi Crime changed the game for her. Read on for more from the conversation with her.
Vipul Shah was developing Human for a long time. Were you involved from the get go?
No. He started working on this very long ago. And he was working towards making it into a film. Yes, I remember we had a chat about what he was planning at that point of time, but not so much in detail. Then I think down the line, he figured that it was too extensive a subject to be encapsulated in two hours of film. So initially, which was many years ago, when he had worked on the script, I didn’t know much about it.
So when you first realized what kind of a character you were being given, what was your reaction?
I was like, whoa, she’s unlike anyone I have met, played, seen or heard of in real life. It was very exciting because I’ve never done something like this. This is going to be fun, and crazy, because it’s she’s very consuming.
Will the audience get to see a never-seen-before side of Shefali Shah?
Absolutely. That’s what I try to do with all my parts. She’s completely pushed me out of my boundaries. Also, she’s written in a certain way. And I’ve played her in a certain way. So right from the word go, there is something that is - I don’t know whether it’s going to work. My voice, for example, has a very strong identity. People know that this voice belongs to this person. The pace at which I speak in this character, it’s uncomfortable. Someone from our marketing team saw the show and said, ‘It was extremely disturbing, your voice, everything about Gauri is very disturbing.’ But then, Gauri is an incomprehensible character.
Having your husband as the director, did that make the journey easier?
Not at all. No character is easy for me to play. It’s my journey. So no matter how comfortable a director makes me, it’s finally my journey. How do I fight my own anxieties, that’s my battle.
After the success of Delhi Crime, is there a pressure that the audience has a certain expectation from you?
I like to believe that people really like me, and they are very benevolent towards me. I don’t expect anything. Every project, I do, I am scared. I am scared when I go in front of the camera, I’m terrified. I’m unsure of myself, most of the times I’m thinking, what the hell am I doing? Because I don’t know what to do. That is exactly my mindset when I go in front of the camera. And believe me when I say this, there is no confidence, there is no like, ‘Oh I know I’ll get it right.’ I’m very clear about that, and it works for me.
As an actor, yes, I try to do stuff which is challenging, exciting and interesting. I am ready to take chances and risks. With Gauri Nath, I’ve taken a chance with the way I have played her. And I don’t know what the reaction is going to be.
How liberating is it to still get roles that challenge you, give you space and power as a woman to do what you’d like to do?
It’s liberating because finally I’m getting the kind of work I want. All these years, I have been a part of very good projects. I don’t have a very long resume but I do have a strong resume. But things have changed since two years ago. Delhi Crime changed it all for me. People are writing scripts for me, I’m headlining shows, I’m playing parallel leads, with incredible directors, fantastic scripts. So I’m like thank God, finally!
After Human, what else are you looking forward to?
I haven’t done so much work in my entire life that I did in the last one year. I’m being honest. I did six projects last year. So I guess they’ll all be coming out one by one by one. I started with Human and then went on to Darlings, the film with Alia Bhatt. Then there is Doctor G with Ayushmann Khurrana. It’s a sweet film with an ensemble cast. It’s a part that is important to the film, I wouldn’t say I’m headlining the film. Then there is a film called Jalsa, then Delhi Crime Season 2 and I ended the year with Three of Us. So I’m looking forward to all these projects coming out.