Exclusive! Shefali Shah: ‘Doctor G’ is a very sensitive, sweet, funny social drama – Times of India

Shefali Shah has inspired us with her work in Bollywood and the actress has now been working in OTT films which have caught attention on an international level. ‘Delhi Crime’ won the Best Drama series at the 48th Emmy International Emmy Awards which was a big win for the actress. Recently, Shefali Shah also directed a short film ‘Happy Birthday Mummy Ji’ which talks about the plight of hands-on homemakers. In an exclusive interview with ETimes, the actress spilled beans on her short film, ‘Delhi Crime’, working with Alia Bhatt in ‘Darlings’ and much more. Excerpts:

How was it working on your directorial debut ‘Happy Birthday Mummyji’?


‘Happy Birthday Mummyji” isn’t my first directorial. I made my directorial debut was ‘Someday’, which is doing the festival circuit. It is being showcased at the Stuttgart Film Festival. This one is my second directorial and it is a story that came to me while the lockdown was going on. In fact, it is based in the lockdown, pandemic, and isolation, but it’s something that I feel that not just me but a lot of women have felt at various points of time in their lives. That’s where it comes from. Suchi is almost my alter ego.

The depiction of your character in ‘Happy Birthday Mummyji’ is quite good. Can you elaborate further on your role?


I think it is like a fantasy everybody has at some point in time. Every time I go on a holiday, I wish something happens and the flight gets cancelled, and the trip gets extended. So it is a fantasy every woman has and it is about getting away and giving up and letting go and just abandoning, even if it is at the cost of seeming selfish.

You recently said that you’ve been offered roles where you have to play a mother to actors close to your age. Does that bother you?


I don’t have a problem playing a mother but I want to play age-appropriate roles. I’m a mother to 18 and 19-year-olds. Well, I took this decision when I played a mother to Akshay Kumar, who’s much older than me. I played a mother to Priyanka and Ranveer, who are not my children’s age. And I also played an age that was beyond my years. But these were important and strong characters. I don’t have a problem playing a mother. Just don’t make me play a 50-year-old’s mom. Secondly, unfortunately until now, a mother was just like a supporting role in a film with a hero and a heroine. They didn’t have their own standing. And all the parts that I have played, they’re not just mothers, they are individual people. They are something else beyond just being moms. In fact, ‘Happy Birthday Mummyji” has also talked about the same thing, that, as women, we get recognised by relationships–a mother, daughter, daughter-in-law, a wife, a homemaker. But in the whole process, there’s a person whom we tend to ignore. Not just the people around you tend to ignore, but you yourself tend to ignore that one person who stands for you and who loves you probably more than anyone else ever can.

What kind of projects attracts your attention?


Anything and everything that challenges and excites me, and turns me inside out–I want to do that kind of stuff. I can’t pinpoint one; I love love stories since I am a hardcore romantic. I’m not a greedy actor; I don’t want to label that I want to do certain things. I want to do a lot of stuff, I even want to play an alien.

Films have been releasing on OTT owing to the lockdown. Do you miss watching movies in the theatres?


I think it is great that OTT platforms have opened so many horizons for all creators. Of course, the tradition of going to the theatres, having samosas and watching films with family is never going to go away because it is a tradition in our country. But, OTT has really opened up horizons for everyone. Your film is just not dictated by the box office collection over the weekend. It’s not dictated by stars. Even if doesn’t do well at the box office, it still has an opportunity to prosper on OTT.

During my recent interaction with Vipul Shah, he revealed that the industry has faced losses after the pandemic. What do you have to say?


Yes, it is. It is not easy to shoot right now. A lot of your time goes in just doing those tests. The sanitisation measures and safety measures taken are expensive, but that is paramount and indispensable right now. I think all producers are doing it and they’re doing it very well. This is going to be the new way of life.

While films are releasing on OTT platforms, there are restrictions from the Censor Board when it comes to bold roles or sex scenes and even for rape scenes. What are your thoughts on that?


Well, creative freedom is necessary. But because you brought up the situation of rape, ‘Delhi Crime’ is about Nirbhaya and they did not show it. It requires a lot of sensitivity. With freedom comes responsibility and it is a combined responsibility of not just the creators or the platform, but even the audience to make the right choice. And yes, they do have that choice too. Nobody has put a gun to anyone’s head and said, ‘Watch This!’. But, it is also the responsibility of the creator to not do something to offend anybody’s emotions and feelings.

When will we get to watch the second season of ‘Delhi Crime’?


Well, we’re left with a couple of days of patchwork. We would’ve finished by now, but everything is delayed because of the pandemic and lockdown. All my projects have gotten pushed and piled up. So we’ll be doing that soon, and then, of course, the post-production will happen and then the release. I don’t have the release date. I’m equally eager and excited and waiting to hear when it’s going to release.

What upcoming projects are you working on?

I’m doing ‘Human’, which is a web series directed by Vipul Shah and Mozez Singh. I’m doing ‘Darlings’, produced by Red Chillies, directed by Jasmeet Reen, with a fantastic team comprising Alia Bhatt, Roshan Mathew, and Vijay Verma. Then I’m going on to ‘Doctor G‘, directed by Anubhuti. It is an interesting cast – Ayushmann Khurrana, Rakul Preet Singh, and Richa Chadha. It is an interesting and sweet film. And then I’ll do the patchwork of ‘Delhi Crime’ and one or two projects that I’m in discussion for. Once it’s finalised, we’ll talk about it.

‘Darlings’ is Alia Bhatt’s first production. How is she on the sets?


Well, she’s very enterprising. I think today’s generation goes out with a dream and achieves it. On the sets, she’s not a producer; she’s just a fantastic co-actor and we have great fun working together.

Since you’re working with Ayushmann Khurrana on ‘Doctor G’ and he’s done a lot of good films, how’s the experience been so far for you?


I haven’t started work on it. However, the film is a very sensitive, sweet, social drama; it is a funny film. I really liked the script and I wanted to be a part of it.

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