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Delhi Crime 3 Update: 'Right now, it's...'

October 03, 2023 14:18 IST
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'I don't revisit any of my work once it's complete because I'm very self-critical.'
'I will probably exclaim, "Oh God, such bad acting!"'

Photograph: Kind courtesy Shefali Shah/Instagram

From its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, the Netflix series, Delhi Crime, has been grabbing eyeballs, with Shefali Shah, as DCP Vartika Chaturvedi IPS, getting raves for a consistently brilliant performance across two seasons.

The performance has now earned her a well-deserved International Emmy nomination in the Best Performance by an Actress category.

This is a great follow-up to the show, which was the first Indian show to win an Emmy in 2020.

Speaking to Senior Contributor, Roshmila Bhattacharya about DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, her character in Delhi Crime, Shefali shares, "There's one quality which makes us exactly alike -- when in a crisis, Vartika shuts down emotionally so she can focus on doing the right thing. I also don't allow myself to feel angry or bad."

This is a character who has struck a chord with many women. After playing her through two seasons of Delhi Crime, do you ever find yourself behaving like DCP Vartika Chaturvedi in real life?

I like to believe I'm conscientious, extremely dedicated in whatever I do, even brutally honest.

I'm strong, but I'm also vulnerable. That's why, like her, I feel so strongly about certain things and can't deal with any kind of injustice.

I'm a mom too, so yes, I believe I have some of Vartika's traits.

There's one quality in particular which makes us exactly alike -- when in a crisis, Vartika shuts down emotionally so she can focus on doing the right thing.

I also don't allow myself to feel angry or bad. Instead, I tell myself I need to work on making it well and can deal with the emotions later.

What has Vartika taught you about crime?

Well, now, when I read about a crime, I see it in the larger context.

I look to see where it is coming from, its roots in society.

In Season 2, when Vartika catches the antagonist, it's not a victory. She's broken because she knows it's not going to change society.

But she will do everything in her capacity to bring about change.

There's a lot in common between us, but it's difficult to quantify what I've learnt from her.

Maybe it will strike me one day, 10 years from now...


IMAGE: Shefali in Delhi Crime.

Are you familiar with the works of the other nominees: Connie Nielsen for the Danish biopic Becoming Karen Blixen, Billie Piper for the HBO Max series I Hate Suzie Too and Karla Souza for the Mexican sports drama Dive.

I'm in such an esteemed company, and I definitely want to catch up on their work because I love watching international shows.

Just to be nominated with such amazing talent is huge!

Thanks to Netflix's reach, the world has been watching and applauding Delhi Crime which in September 2020, became the first Indian series to receive an International Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series.

Yeah, to think our work has reached across the globe and is considered one of the best, is huge.

The beauty of OTT is that the series reaches every corner of the world.

Even I, as an audience, can watch creations from across the globe in any language.

IMAGE: Shefali in Monsoon Wedding.

Monsoon Wedding won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Director Mira Nair being only the second Indian after Satyajit Ray to receive the festival's highest honour. What memories does the film bring back?

Oh, the entire shoot was memorable!

We landed in Delhi a month before we started filming. There were yoga sessions and acting workshops with Naseerbhai (Naseeruddin Shah, who played the father of the bride, Lalit Verma) picking out a scene or two.

Mira let us be in the house where we shot and move around in a way that was comfortable and appropriate for the character we were playing.

Even the DoP (Declan Quinn, Director Of Photography) did not tell us where to stand for a shot, following us around with the camera.

The food came from Mira's home and we actually became a family.

Sadly, when it won the Golden Lion, I could not be there.

I was six months pregnant, so I missed the celebrations.

Mira called me after the award saying, 'Everyone was asking about Ria, we really missed you.'

IMAGE: Darshan Jariwala and Shefali in Gandhi, My Father.

Another flawless act is Kasturba in Feroz Abbas Khan's 2007 drama Gandhi, My Father, which bagged you the Best Actress Award at the Tokyo International Film Festival.

Again, I was not there. Feroz or Anilji (producer Anil Kapoor) called me with the news and I was like, 'Oh My God, this is huge!'

At that point, I was the only Indian to have won at Tokyo. I wasn't expecting it.

Then there was the National Award-winning performance in Rituparno Ghosh's 2007 film, The Last Lear...

Rituda created a beautiful world with the sets, cinematography and costumes, an intimate world where everyone was in sync.

He let us do what we wanted with our characters and when the three women were together (Preity Zinta as Shabnam who had co-starred with Amitabh Bachchan's comatose Harish Mishra, Divya Dutta as his nurse Ivy and Shefali as his partner and caregiver Vandana), the female energy was high.

The Last Lear was lovely, like being a part of a fluid ballet.

IMAGE: Shefali and Manoj Bajpayee in Satya.

In 1998, you played Pyaari, gangster Bhiku Mhatre's wife in the Ram Gopal Varma-directed Satya. What memories does this crime drama which got you the Filmfare and Screen Awards bring back a quarter of a century later?

It was a very small role, but today, I'm proud to be a part of Satya which is a cult film.

I did not realise its importance back then because I was very young. Today, when I look back, I say, 'Wow, this is amazing work put together by all the actors!'

Most of the actors were from theatre and we were creating stuff on the spot while we were shooting.

It was all very organic and spontaneous.

Do you ever revisit any of your early shows like Banegi Apni Baat, Hasratein, Kabhie Kabhie or Dariya Chhoru?

I don't revisit any of my work once it's complete because I'm very self-critical.

I have grown as an actress since and I know I won't like it.

I will probably exclaim, 'Oh God, such bad acting!'

IMAGE: Shefali and Kirti Kulhari in Human.

Is there one film or show that is satisfying?

Delhi Crime has been most satisfying.

When can we expect Season 3?

It will start only next year. Right now, it's brewing in the Writer's Room.

Recently, you impressed as Dr Gauri Nath in the 2022 medical thriller Human. Can we expect a sequel soon?

That's a question only the producer can answer so you will have to ask Vipul (producer-director and Shefali's husband Vipul Amrutlal Shah). He hasn't told me anything.

IMAGE: Shefali in Happy Birthday Mummy Ji.

During the lockdown, you directed two short films: Someday and Happy Birthday Mummy Ji. Will you direct a feature film next?

I want to at some point of time, but right now, I'm enjoying this phase as an actor which has come after years of struggle.

I'm finally getting to do the kind of work I want to do. If I direct, I know I'll disappear off the grid for months, maybe a year, because I will only breathe that script.

Also, it will require a lot of prep and I don't know if I'm ready for that.

Once I dive in, only then will I know if I am ready, but I don't see it happening now.

But it is definitely something I want to do.

Do you have a script ready?

I've written two scripts actually, but don't know if I will convert them into a film or if it will be something else.

IMAGE: Shefali, husband Vipul Amrutlal Shah and sons Aryaman and Maurya. Photograph: Kind courtesy Shefali Shah/Instagram

In 2021, you opened a buffet restaurant in Ahmedabad with recipes from your kitchen. How did Jalsa happen?

I'm a complete foodie and thought it would be an interesting collaboration with my sister and brother-in-law, who are restaurateurs and know the business.

It's pocket friendly, catering not just to people from a certain financial background.

For a nominal ticket fee, you get to savour endless amounts of food in different cuisines.

But Jalsa is not just about food, it's an experience.

People go there for three hours, have lots of fun, whether it's dancing, getting mehndi or tattoos, playing games or having their future read by an astrologer.

It's like a mela!

Are your sons, Aryaman and Maurya, showing signs of following in Vipul and your footsteps?

Absolutely not!

Neither are inclined towards acting or direction.

Once when we had a conversation on the subject, they said they didn't want to bask in their parents' glory, but create something of their own.

EARLIER INTERVIEWS WITH SHEFALI here, here, here and here.

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