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'Every day I am scared'

By SUBHASH K JHA
August 30, 2022 09:40 IST
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'We can't live in a delusional world of just I, me, myself.'

After the huge success of Delhi Crime, Shefali Shah returns as Vartika Chaturvedi in its second season.

While Season 1 dealt with the Nirbhaya case, Season 2 is inspired from the true events of the notorious Kachcha Baniyan gang.

"In Season 1, she became a hero. In Season 2, she is human. She falters, she has flaws," Shefali tells Subhash K Jha.

While preparing for Delhi Crime 2, what were the challenges in front of you?

Well, when we did Season 1, Delhi Crime and Vartika Chaturvedi had no act to follow up.

But before starting Season 2, I thought, 'Oh my God, woh toh ho gaya. DC just happened.'

I did what I did, I don't have a plan of action for DC 2. How do I step into those shoes which have just gotten bigger?'

I don't know if there is something about the show and Vartika, but I am possessed with her, totally possessed.

Also, getting into that world and recreating the magic once is difficult.

But I am so glad we stuck to our gut instinct and obsession with the show and the characters, and here we are.

What were the highlights of the shoot during the second season?

I remember the first time we had a reading with the entire cast, we were sitting in a room and everyone read.

I had goosebumps and in my head, I was feeling, 'Oh my God. We are home.'

It wasn't an easy circumstance to shoot in.

Also, the crime was bigger in DC 1. In DC 2, (Director) Tanuj Chopra was choosing to delve into the characters.

It was so organic the moment the entire cast, crew, Tanuj, David (Bolen, cinematographer) were together, it was like an unsaid synchronised chaos or dance or whatever you call it.

It was just amazing.

The volume of expectations for Season 2 is far higher than it was for Season 1. Does that worry you?

In Season 1, we dealt with a crime and these characters came into the picture.

In Season 2, you have the characters and the crime happens.

Of course, we know that we cannot match up to a case and crime like Nirbhaya, but Season 2 makes some very pointed and poignant questions that everyone has to go through at some point of time.

I mean, we can't live in a delusional world of just I, me, myself.

You have to be aware of what's happening around us. Season 2 explores that.

Also, in Season 1, there was no moral ambiguity. There was no wavering of the moral compass for my character Vartika.

In Season 2, she is left to question herself.

It's not as simple as black and white.

In Season 1, she became a hero.

In Season 2, she is human. She falters, she has flaws.

But she also has the dignity, grace and consciousness of accepting her flaws and correcting them.

How do you see Vartika Chaturvedi?

Vartika is blessed. She is lucky to have the kind of support system she has at home.

Her husband is from the police force so he understands the demands of her job.

In fact, she knows that she can go out and do what she does because there is a lot of support. As a person, she is someone who, when she gets into something, she goes out and does it.

Even if there were problems like Neeti (Rasika Dugal) has in her family life, she would probably fight it more vehemently than Neeti would.

But like every working woman, Vartika has her home and she has her work. She chooses to be involved in both.

It is not forced upon her. It's a choice she makes.

The fact that she has the freedom of that choice means a lot and I wish that could be the case for all women.

How close are you to the rest of the Delhi Crime cast?

I say this all the time, I am as good as my team is and so is Vartika. She is as good as her team is and she respects them tremendously.

They have an unsaid understanding of what is required of them.

They respect her tremendously.

They know that she will take it forward and she knows them not just for their professional strengths but also as people.

Sometimes she has to manoeuvre over certain peopl,e but her relationship with Bhupendra -- it is one of the most beautiful relationships I have seen on screen. Also with Neeti, Subhash, Jairaj, all of them.

I cannot begin to tell you how rich they make me.

When you do a project, you become close and have every intention of staying in touch, but everyone moves on.

But when we were back on set, it was like a day hadn't gone by.

It seemed like they've been seeing each other every day and it was just getting straight back to the original gang.

I am blessed to have such amazing actors around me.

The audiences' perception -- that if it is Shefali Shah, it's got to special -- must be unnerving for you.

I don't know. I am overwhelmed with the love and respect I have received and continue to receive.

When I go out to do something, I am not working with this in mind because I am so obsessed with the show and character that all I am thinking of is how do I be true to her?

How do I create this person, not how Shefali enacts to be this person.

That is the difference.

If I am recognised as a character rather than just Shefali getting compliments as an actor, I have done my job well. That works for me.

All the projects I have done, I have never thought of what will happen (after its release) -- the accolades or awards we will get.

I am just so obsessed with what I am doing.

I enjoy and love the process.

Also, every day is a new day. Every day is a learning. Every day I am scared.

I think that works for me. The day I feel complacent or feel that okay, I know, that will hinder my growth.

It overwhelms me that people trust me so much.

What do we get to see you in next?

I have done a small guest appearance in Doctor G. It's a very sensitive, funny and important film.

I wanted to be a part of the ensemble. It was a commitment I had made, but a very sweet script.

Them there's a film directed by Avinash Arun called the Three of Us, with a beautiful cast of Jaideep Ahlawat, Swanand Kirkire and me.

It's a very delicate and fragile story, loaded with vulnerability.

It's like a haiku, it's so beautiful.

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SUBHASH K JHA