Actor Shefali Shah marked her foray into the web space with short film Juice (2017). Ever since she has headlined clutter-breaking content on the web including the International Emmy Award winning Delhi Crime, anthology film Ajeeb Daastaans, short film Happy Birthday Mummy Ji (both 2021) and the recently released web series Human based on human drug trials. Over time, she has carved a niche for herself, thus crushing stereotypes related to the sexist and ageist nature of the entertainment industry.
Shah credits web series Delhi Crime, which saw her playing DCP Vartika Chaturvedi, for giving her a new lease of life as an actor, which many refer to as Shefali Shah 2.0. “I credit my career today to the OTT boom. In films, they didn’t know what to do with me, because in cinema, you either can play the heroine or her mother. But on OTT, I got to play full-fledged characters. I’ve to admit that Delhi Crime became the turning point in my career as somebody took a chance with me and put me in the lead,” she elaborates.
With no box office pressure in the digital medium, the actor, who will be seen in Delhi Crime 2, feels that filmmakers have become more experimental not only in terms of content but also casting for their shows and films. She says, “I’ve been experiencing it since last year. Every other project I’ve shot in the past year, I’m either the lead or the parallel lead.”
The past few months saw actors Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Kirti Kulhari talking about taking a break from web series. Ask Shah if the fatigue has set in for her as well, and she says, “Web series are exhausting but that’s the fun of it. I thrive on work that completely consumes and drains me. Last year, I shot for Human and Delhi Crime 2, which were both very intense. But I loved it.”
With the OTT space witnessing a multitude of new releases every week across languages and genres, does she feel that its novelty has waned away? “The more, the merrier! What’s wonderful is there’s amazing stuff coming out of India and other countries. There’s something for everyone. I don’t think OTT is ever going to dwindle off,” the 49-year-old replies.
Talking about the appreciation coming her way, Shah, on a parting note, says, “The kind of response we’re getting is unprecedented, and the love continues. There are some people who’ve watched it twice. Even in its second week, it’s at the number one position across all OTT platforms. It’s overwhelming and gratifying as well.”
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