Actress Shefali Shah entered her name into the history books when her web-series, ‘Delhi Crime’ became the first Indian show to win an International Emmy Award. In the series, Shah played Vartika Chaturvedi, a character based on former Delhi Police DCP Chaya Sharma, who spearheaded the team investigating the Nirbhaya case. From portraying the strong-headed Pyaari Mhatre in ‘Satya’ to playing the modern Neelam Mehra in ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, Shefali has pulled off all her roles flawlessly.
ETimes got in touch with Shefali to congratulate her on the historic win and talk to her about her experience of working on the series. Excerpts from our conversation.
Congratulations on the big win at Emmy Awards 2020! Has your feeling changed towards the series after the big win or is it the same before?
It was exactly the same since Richie Mehta spoke to me about it. I did not anticipate. I did not think of where it was going to go, where it was going to be released. All I knew was it is an extremely, extremely special show and I am very proud of being a part of it. So for that matter, Emmys, The Asian Academy Awards, or the Sundance Film Festival was a cherry on the sundae but it does not change my base feeling. I trusted the show. All of us believed in it, we were invested in it and we completely loved it.
What made you say ‘yes’ to this role and what was the first reaction when the director approached you for the role?
When Riche Mehta met me he did not narrate the script, he was just talking about what research he had done, what his vision was. He was just talking to me and within the first five minutes, I said ‘Yes’ to the series. I didn’t even blink an eyelid, I just said, ‘yes’ as it was so powerful. The story needed to be told, Vartika was fantastic, everything was just perfect and I just need to be a part of it.
Were there any moments while shooting the series that brought tears to your eyes?
Every single moment of the show is emotional and there is no other way besides feeling it. That’s why I was feeling every single moment. And I remember there wasn’t any single moment when I wasn’t emotionally involved, invested, or consumed by it.
You mentioned that your concerned husband and two sons asked you to stay safe and not step out of the room while shooting at the real locations where the incident took place… was there any kind of fear that you felt?
Well, it is known that Delhi wasn’t one of the safest cities, not just Delhi but a lot of cities which are not safe for women. But when I went there I was carrying the baggage of the show, I knew what happened and I was knowing what I was going out to do there. Also the drive from the airport to Delhi, you passed through all the areas where the incident took place and it left dread in my stomach, knowing it could be so unsafe for me, knowing that somebody suffered such a brutal attack. I have travelled before to Dehli, but I had always felt comfortable being in the city but this time when I went for the show, it was a dreadful feeling, there was something uncomfortable about it.
Being a mother of two sons, what piece of advice do you always give to them?
Well, I always believe that our daughters are safe only if our sons are raised right and this is exactly what I tell my children. I will kill them if they hurt anybody.
So far as a layman we only knew what was reported by the news channels about the incident, so how was it meeting Delhi Police DCP Chaya Sharma in person and knowing the other side of the story?
When Richie met me, I didn’t know as a layman, this side of the story. When the case happened all of us were crying for justice and saying, ‘why is someone not doing something about it?’ But when I did the show I realise, there was somebody on this who was doing something about this incident. She led a team and the entire police force really worked cracking it in the next 5 days and getting all the predators.
Meeting Chaya Sharma was an honour. Knowing her, for however briefly I did was an honour. I met her over a coffee. But despite meeting her it was difficult to consume, to imbibe a person in the first two of the meeting. Also, we did not want to replicate someone, we wanted Vartika to be her own person. And I had the honour of meeting the woman who cracked the case and she was kind enough to answer all my questions, whenever through the shoot, even if we didn’t meet. It helped me so much.
Has this character left a lasting impression on you? Will it change your approach to signing other roles after this
All my choices have been very, very, very selective. And if it is anything it is going to make me more choosy as the bar is really raised and it has nothing to do with the awards, the bar is anyway raised. Also, I did not expect Vartika to become what she became. The show and the character became unpresidential.
Any special takeaways from the series
There is so much I took away. ‘Delhi Crime’ was a turning curve in my life. I have never worked like this before. This is just enriching me, it has made me more meticulous, more particular, at the same time, it made me sharper, instinct and impulse because that is what I fall back on when I am in front of the camera. But there is a lot of work that went into the script. There was a lot of discussion between me and Richie on the smallest of the details. It has put in the finest positions of my career. It is giving me the kind of work I desire.
Despite the historic win… the series has come under attack on social media with people saying that the win is bitter-sweet as it came at the cost of someone’s life. what you have to say about this?
The win and the incident are two different things. So we should keep that separate. Nowhere do we undermine and never can we undermine the pain and the agony someone went through. Never! That’s extremely important and it will always stay with us. As it is a creative project as well. This win is for creation. So both are not linked, they are not comparable and they both are extremely important. It is unfair to compare this.
Be it the Delhi crime or the 26/11 Mumbai attack, both incidents bring back that sinking feeling. Yesterday was the 12 anniversary of 26/11 Mumbai terror attack. Anything you would like to share?
It is a scare that didn’t go. But we got out of it and we are standing strong, we are standing tall and it’s going to be a constant battle on various trance, on various days, nobody is going to have a smooth sail. We will come out stronger and we come out more united and that’s what matters.
Source From : Times Of India