Shefali Shah has been going strength to strength after her turn as a cop Vartika Chaturvedi on Netflix’s Delhi Crime.
The critically acclaimed show won the International Emmy Award in 2020, and the actor, to use a cliche, hasn’t looked back since. This year, she won hearts with Ajeeb Daastaans, an anthology in which she shared the screen space with Manav Kaul in Kayoze Irani’s Ankahi. She is also a part of Alia Bhatt’s maiden production venture Darlings and Ayushmann Khurrana-starrer Doctor G. And now, she has made her debut as a filmmaker with two short films – Happy Birthday Mummyji and Someday. While Someday is doing rounds at film festivals, Happy Birthday Mummyji released on Friday on Large Short Films’ YouTube channel.
In a conversation with indianexpress.com, Shefali said she always had the aspiration to direct. “I always wanted to direct but I wasn’t sure I could take the responsibility of a full fledged future,” Shefali said, adding that the ideas for both her short films came during the lockdown. “During the lockdown, one of the things that hit me very hard was the isolation, the separation and distance from people we love. So, both these films are during this time when were hit with the pandemic and have gone through lockdowns. I just thought – what if there was a completely different take on isolation? Because isolation is always looked upon as something sad thing, dark, something depressing. And that’s where the film come from. It was like a switch that went on in my head. And I just said, I’m going to do, I want to do it and I will do,” Shefali said. Talking about Happy Birthday Mummyji, Shefali said it is inspired from “many episodes of my own life, from my friends’ lives and from the women I know.”
In her words, directing is ‘addictive and liberating’. “It is because you have a vision and bit by bit falls into place. And there are so many people who come together to make it happen. It’s exciting. It’s a learning experience because every minute you’re thinking on your feet,” she replied. And when asked if she feels the same way about acting, Shefali quipped, “I love to act because I can become so many different people. Every character I play takes away everything out of me. It drains me, exhausts me yet completes me. It takes away a part of me and leaves a certain part of the character behind. It is amazing. If I would have not been an actor, I would have been suffering from multiple disorder or something.”
Shefali Shah’s husband Vipul Shah is also one of the most reputed filmmakers of Bollywood. Did she take any tips from him? “We talk about all our work. Whenever I get offered a project, I discuss it with him. If he is working on something, I am one of the first ones to read his script or see the rough cut. I remember me talking to Vipul. I said I want to direct and this is a gamble I want to play. I told him I was ready to put in everything and whatever it takes from my end. I told him all I need is give me somebody who can handle it for me. I was very lucky that I got Aashin A Shah, who’s the co-producer on the film,” Shefali answered, revealing that Vipul Shah thought that she “was spending too much time on the prep.” “I told him that you are an experienced director, I’m not. And I have my own way of working. So, I will do it this way. That is how it was,” Shefali continued.