Shefali Shah has just won the best actress award at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2022, for her film Jalsa. The actress has been collecting awards and accolades for many of her recent projects that released on OTT. From the web series Delhi Crime to the most recent release Darlings, Shefali has been winning the audience’s appreciation with every project.
Before leaving for the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne 2022 where Jalsa was nominated alongside many other films, Shefali spoke to Nedws18 about what the recognition means for her and how OTT has changed her career as an actress.
“Jalsa is a special film to me, I am so proud of it. And so proud of Joseph. I’m obviously excited to be nominated in the Best Actress category, along with such men commendable talent. But, you know, I’m even more excited that the film is nominated, and so very rightfully so. It feels like a personal triumph for me. It’s a flagship film at the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne,” she told News18.
However, the actress confesses that the creative process is the high point for her, and not winning awards. “When we are creating a project, that is the high point of the entire process. While we were making it, I was going there every day, I loved the whole process of it so much. Like with Delhi Crime, we didn’t know where it’ll go. Awards and nominations are like the cherry on the sundae,” she said.
Shefali also was to host a session on inclusivity and representation at the festival. Describing the topic of discussion, the actress said, “I love live audience interactions, because you don’t know what is going to come to you. And it’s more of a banter, a conversation. It’s more candid, it’s more real, it’s not choreographed. Secondly, Jalsa happens to be probably the first film that has an inclusive cast. It should have happened a long time ago. Even if I was not a part of Jalsa, as a person who believes in equality, who believes that talent is everywhere, I would have clapped very loudly for this film. I don’t think anyone could have played the role of Ayush better than Surya.”
Surya Kasibhatla plays a teen with cerebral palsy in Jalsa, and he suffers from the disability in real life.
From Delhi Crime to her latest release Darlings, Shefali has been taking on projects that have been pushing for gender representation. Asked if it has been a conscious choice to be part of such projects on OTT, she said, “There were women oriented films back in the ’60s and ’70s, when you look at Bandini, or Aradhana, Aandhi or Ghar. Then it stopped and the actress became an accessory to the film. But it started changing again. The perfect example of it is the Vidya Balan, when she started playing roles which weren’t the quintessential heroines, but were the lead, powerful and strong. We talk about a Dirty Picture, or Tumhari Sulu, how beautiful are those!”
“So there have been actresses who already started paving the path. Unfortunately, I came into a category where they put me as a filler very early in life. But Delhi Crime changed that for me. This was a show, which was led by a woman, and OTT allowed that. Then of course, there was Ajeeb Dastaans, Human, Darlings and then Delhi Crime again. So it’s all just getting solidified,” she adds.
Shefali admits she has found more success, recognition and satisfaction as an actor ever since the OTT boom happened. “Firstly, you get eight hours of film over two hours of film. Secondly, you don’t need to be a star to be an actor on OTT, because the characters are so strong, you need actors for it. So someone put me up there, saying she will lead the show. And things have changed since then. People are putting me in leads and parallel leads. This has been a turning point of my career. It has been my learning curve. It has been my professional growth since Delhi Crime,” she said.
The teaser of season 2 released recently and it seems like the makers are ready with yet another hard hitting narrative. We asked Shefali if it was emotionally taxing to shoot for the show. “I would use the word emotionally consuming. Delhi Crime has been a show that takes everything out of you, emotionally, physically, mentally. Honestly, I don’t know any other way of doing a show, besides giving myself completely to it and being spent at the end of it. I thoroughly love it,” she said.
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