“Our daughters will be safe if our sons are raised right.”—Shefali Shah
SOCIETY|February - March 2019

As the female rage across the world builds up, outing an ever growing list of predators and predatory behaviours, a netflix series, Delhi Crime, couldn’t have asked for a better cultural climate or timing. based on the horrific nirbhaya case that shook india, we turn to its protagonist shefali shah on why a series like Delhi Crime should be a required stream in the post ‘me too’ era…

Vinay agrawal

Last year, we witnessed women across the world united by the shared power of rage; unbridled, concentrated rage. They wore this once despised emotion on their sleeve and let it all out. New narratives were scripted, discourses around consent debated and discussed. For a change, predatory men were named and shamed. In this cultural milieu, shows were made and are still being made to intensify the conversation the world is witnessing at the moment. One such show is Netflix’s Delhi Crime helmed by Shefali Shah.

Born in 1972 to Sudhakar Shetty, a former RBI employee, and Shobha Shetty, a homeopathy doctor, Shefali Shah grew up in Santa Cruz, Mumbai, and fluently speaks five languages i.e., Tulu, Hindi, English, Marathi and Gujarati. This National Awardee made her debut with Rangeela, followed by critically acclaimed film, Satya.

In one of her short films, Juice, Shah, through her portrayal of a housewife, personified a subdued rage after navigating through casual sexism and common place misogyny. The scene where she is seen sipping a tall, chilled glass of juice at the end spelled revolt, a possible change in the order and it remains one of the powerful shots she’s given so far in her acting career. And in her Netflix latest, she takes her acting prowess to a new level as DCP Vartika Chaturvedi.

To give one a background, her character is modelled on real life Delhi cop who investigated the Nirbhaya case and hunted the rapists in 72 hours. Delhi Crime is also the first Indian series to have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. In a rare interview, Shefali Shah talks about the series, the case that shook the world and the topics that need your attention…

We don’t see you much on screen now. Any reasons?

I love what I do, way too much, tocompromise. Over time, I’ve realised and accepted that the kind of work I do and want to do doesn’t come often. And, if what I get offered isn’t on the same level of work I’ve done earlier or doesn’t excite me, I won’t do it. Waiting is tough, but it’s worthwhile. So, I may have only a handful of films on my resume but what I have is very rich.

How do you prep up for a character in general and how did you prep up for Delhi Crime?

The first thing I do is to create the character in my mind. A character is a result of what she has been born with, her upbringing, how life has affected her and how she has finally become her own person. A character is an amalgamation of all that she was and she is: upbringing, choices, likes, dislikes, values, beliefs, strengths, weaknesses and her relationship with various characters. Only if I know her that well, I’d be able to know how she reacts in that moment.

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